AllMusic 2017 Year In Review

Favorite Classical Vocal Albums -

 We traditionally divide our year-end classical coverage into two categories: instrumental music and vocal music, the latter of which is represented here. Interpretations of Mozart, Handel, Haydn and Wagner headline this year's list, along with works by Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Bach.
Tigran Mansurian: Requiem

Alexander Liebreich / Berlin RIAS Chamber Choir / Münchener Kammerorchester

Tigran Mansurian: Requiem

This performance of Mansurian's Requiem makes a fine place to start with ECM's series of the composer's music.

Carnevale 1729

Ann Hallenberg / Il Pomo d'Oro

Carnevale 1729

This is one of those rare recordings that break entirely new ground yet remain a pure pleasure.

Bach Secular Cantatas, Vol. 8: Celebratory Cantatas

Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki

Bach Secular Cantatas, Vol. 8: Celebratory Cantatas

The large, festive secular cantatas here qualify as obscure works well worth a revival.

Johannes Tinctoris: Secret Consolations

Baptiste Romain / Le Miroir De Musique

Johannes Tinctoris: Secret Consolations

The Basel-based ensemble Le Miroir de Musique performs the few extant works of 15th century theoretician Johannes Tinctoris.

Crazy Girl Crazy

Barbara Hannigan / Ensemble Ludwig

Crazy Girl Crazy

Virtuoso vocalist, gifted conductor, and theatrical phenomenon, Barbara Hannigan displays her many talents in works by Berio, Berg, and Gershwin.

Vaughn Williams: A London Symphony (1920 Version)

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins

Vaughn Williams: A London Symphony (1920 Version)

Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra present the seldom-performed 1920 version of A London Symphony with three Vaughan Williams rarities.

Music for the 100 Years' War

Binchois Consort / Andrew Kirkman

Music for the 100 Years' War

The 100 Years' War provides the framework for this album of Medieval and Renaissance music, sung by the Binchois Consort.

Loves Me... Loves Me Not... : Gluck & Mozart Arias

Camilla Tilling

Loves Me... Loves Me Not... : Gluck & Mozart Arias

An unusually satisfying operatic recital, comparing the operatic languages of two composers not often placed side by side.

Claudio Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine

Cantica Symphonia / La Compagnia del Madrigale / Giuseppe Maletto / Ensemble La Pifarescha

Claudio Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine

Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine receives an ecstatic performance from Giuseppe Maletto and three early music ensembles.

Alma Mahler: Lieder und Gesänge; Patrizia Montanaro: Canto di Penelope

Catharina Kroeger / Monica Lonero

Alma Mahler: Lieder und Gesänge; Patrizia Montanaro: Canto di Penelope

The 14 published songs of Alma Mahler are presented by soprano Catharina Kroeger with Patrizia Montanero's Canto di Penelope.

Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter: Princess, nun and musician

Celestial Sirens / Musica Secreta / Deborah Roberts / Laurie Stras

Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter: Princess, nun and musician

Princess, nun, musician, and the daughter of Lucrezia Borgia, Leonora d'Este may have composed the motets presented on this 2017 Obsidian release.

The Gate of Glory: Music from the Eton Choirbook, Vol. 5

Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford / Stephen Darlington

The Gate of Glory: Music from the Eton Choirbook, Vol. 5

English polyphony of the 15th century is not for everybody, but here it takes a big step forward in intelligibility.

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Daniel Reuss / Cappella Amsterdam / Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis receives a period interpretation by Daniel Reuss and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.

Meyerbeer: Grand Opera

Diana Damrau / Emmanuel Villaume / Lyon National Opera Orchestra

Meyerbeer: Grand Opera

This fine anthology by Damrau will help Meyerbeer's cause. Plainly a labor of love, brava!

Monteverdi: Vespers 1610

Dunedin Consort / John Butt

Monteverdi: Vespers 1610

John Butt and the Dunedin Consort are joined by His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts in this luminous recording of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers.

Verdi: Requiem

Gianandrea Noseda / London Symphony Orchestra

Verdi: Requiem

This is a blood-and-guts requiem mass, with big contrasts in dynamics, a substantial choir, and soloists pushed to the edge.

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil, Op. 37

Gloriae Dei Cantores / Peter Jermihov

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil, Op. 37

This is a sensitive, even impassioned performance by any standard, aided by the tempo choices of conductor Peter Jermihov.

Lully: Persée 1770

Hervé Niquet / Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus

Lully: Persée 1770

Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel present a re-creation of Lully's Persée, as it was performed in 1770 for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Lost Is My Quiet

Iestyn Davies / Carolyn Sampson / Joseph Middleton

Lost Is My Quiet

This is a delightful and offbeat vocal recital with Davies' vocal timbre set off from Sampson's.

Franz Schubert: Der Einsame

Ilker Arcayürek / Simon Lepper

Franz Schubert: Der Einsame

Arcayürek's performance falls into a long Austrian-German tradition. Top-notch Schubert.

Dvorák: Stabat Mater

Jiří Bělohlávek / Elisabeth Kulman / Eri Nakamura / Michael Spyres / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Dvorák: Stabat Mater

For the combination of deep feeling and technical mastery from musicians and singers, this is an accomplishment for the ages.

Berlioz: Les Troyens

Joyce DiDonato / Michael Spyres / John Nelson

Berlioz: Les Troyens

This 2017 concert recording by John Nelson and the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg presents Berlioz's Les Troyens in its entirety.

Mozart: Coronation Mass; Vesperae solennes de confessore

Laurence Equilbey / Accentus / Insula Orchestra

Mozart: Coronation Mass; Vesperae solennes de confessore

Equilbey forges clean contrasts between the rich choir and the vibrato-free strings for a superb reading of the Mozart warhorse.

Handel: Messiah 1754

Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus / Hervé Niquet

Handel: Messiah 1754

Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel celebrate 30 years together with this performance of the 1754 version of Handel's Messiah.

Bach: Johannes-Passion

Marc Minkowski / Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble

Bach: Johannes-Passion

Minkowski and musicians deliver an interpretation that is sharp and biting.

Meraviglia d'amore: Love Songs from 17th-century Italy

Marco Beasley / Pierre Pitzl / Private Musicke

Meraviglia d'amore: Love Songs from 17th-century Italy

This is of a rather specialized nature, but is still entirely listenable and even enchanting for the general listener.

Secrets: French Songs

Marianne Crebassa / Fazil Say

Secrets: French Songs

A French song recording in which everything comes together.

Wagner: Parsifal

Mark Elder / Hallé Orchestra

Wagner: Parsifal

Mark Elder leads the Hallé Orchestra in this recording of Parsifal, presented at the BBC Proms for the Wagner bicentennial.

John Sheppard: Media Vita

Martin Baker / Westminster Cathedral Choir

John Sheppard: Media Vita

Both sumptuous and informative, this is a superior Sheppard recording.

Wagner: Siegfried

Matthias Goerne / Simon O'Neill / Jaap van Zweden / Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Wagner: Siegfried

Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic present the third music drama in Wagner's Ring, Siegfried.

Tutta Bella! A Venetian Christmas Revels

Megan Henderson / The Revels

Tutta Bella! A Venetian Christmas Revels

Megan Henderson leads arts ensemble The Revels in lively performances of Renaissance music, evoking Christmas celebrations in Venice.

Philip Glass: The Trial

Michael Rafferty / Music Theatre Wales

Philip Glass: The Trial

The Trial is the first Philip Glass opera to receive its premiere in the U.K., and this recording is taken from the 2014 premiere.

Metamorfosi Trecento

Michele Pasotti / La Fonte Musica

Metamorfosi Trecento

This collection of late medieval music of the Ars Nova is performed by Michele Pasotti and La Fonte Musica.

Many are the wonders

ORA / Suzi Digby

Many are the wonders

If you think you've heard every possibility in recording English Renaissance choral music, get to know ORA through this release.

Machaut: Sovereign Beauty

Orlando Consort

Machaut: Sovereign Beauty

The fourth volume in the Orlando Consort's series of Machaut's vocal music presents love songs on the subject of idealized beauty.

Haydn: The Seasons, 1801

Paul McCreesh

Haydn: The Seasons, 1801

Revelatory Haydn in the way the historical instruments combine with the large forces to produce a truly mighty sound.

The Händel Album

Philippe Jaroussky

The Händel Album

The virtuosic castrati arias in Handel's operas are explored by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and his period ensemble Artaserse.

Cleopatra: Baroque Arias

Regula Mühlemann

Cleopatra: Baroque Arias

Regula Mühlemann is Cleopatra in this 2017 Sony release of Baroque arias, showcasing her virtuoso technique and expressive powers.

Mozart: Requiem

René Jacobs / Freiburger Barockorchester

Mozart: Requiem

René Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockorchester present Pierre-Henri Dutron's 2016 revision of Süssmayr's completion of Mozart's Requiem.

Distant Light

Renée Fleming / Sakari Oramo / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Distant Light

Fleming has always had a flair for material originating from the popular sphere, but her work here is exceptional.

Mirages

Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages

This 2017 Erato release by soprano Sabine Devieilhe has multiple strengths that propelled it onto the charts.

Debussy: Pelléas & Mélisande

Simon Rattle / London Symphony Orchestra

Debussy: Pelléas & Mélisande

A fine Pelléas, and a suggestion of how effective the semi-staged medium can be for recorded opera.

Parle Qui Veut: Moralizing Songs of the Middle Ages

Sollazzo Ensemble

Parle Qui Veut: Moralizing Songs of the Middle Ages

For its debut on Linn, the Sollazzo Ensemble presents 14th century moralizing songs that reflect the traditions of the trouvères and troubadours.

Divine Theatre: Sacred Motets by Giaches de Wert

Stile Antico

Divine Theatre: Sacred Motets by Giaches de Wert

A superior album of Renaissance sacred music, featuring pieces new to most listeners.

Claudio Monteverdi: The Selva Morale e Spirituale Collection

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

Claudio Monteverdi: The Selva Morale e Spirituale Collection

This reissued set of Selva Morale e Spirituale, performed by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, marks the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi's birth.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Vol. 7

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Vol. 7

Either alone or as part of the Sixteen's ongoing project, this is a highly recommended outing.

Francis Poulenc: Mass in G; Un Soir de neige; Litanies a la Vierge Noire; Etc.

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

Francis Poulenc: Mass in G; Un Soir de neige; Litanies a la Vierge Noire; Etc.

Uniquely satisfying results even for those who already have plenty of Poulenc or plenty of The Sixteen.

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius

Thomas Hampson / Catherine Wyn-Rogers / Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Andrew Staples

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius

In this reading by Barenboim, the work emerges as positively operatic, with impressive results.

Liszt: 15 Songs

Timothy Fallon / Ammiel Bushakevitz

Liszt: 15 Songs

Timothy Fallon sings some of the less familiar Lieder of Franz Liszt, who composed songs throughout his career.

Visions

Véronique Gens / Hervé Niquet

Visions

Visions finds Gens absolutely at the top of her powers. A really thrilling release.