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Allmusic 2019

Year In Review

We close out our year-end lists with a look into the world of instrumental classical music, which featured Carolina Eyck's reinvention of the theremin, Septura's brass-only take on 'The Nutcracker,' and Dutch teenager Lucie Horsch's elevation of the recorder from the classroom to the concert hall.

Andrew Litton / Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra

Gustav Holst: The Planets; Edward Elgar: Enigma Variations

Holst's The Planets and Elgar's Enigma Variations are paired on this vivid hybrid SACD from BIS.

Andrey Gugnin

Shostakovich: 24 Preludes Op. 34; Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2

Gugnin presents a portrait of Shostakovich that explores his early avant-garde phase, and his piano music after the Soviet's ban.

András Schiff

Franz Schubert: Sonatas & Impromptus

Superbly detailed Schubert on an 1820 fortepiano.

Anne Laver

Reflections of Light

Anne Laver plays a recital of organ music that approaches the concept of celestial light from different perspectives.

Beatrice Rana

Ravel: Miroirs; La Valse; Stravinsky: Petrushka; The Firebird

Breathtakingly virtuosic yet sensitive performances of these early 20th century standards.

Callum Armstrong / Barnaby Brown / Stef Conner

Apollo & Dionysus: Sounds from Classical Antiquity

The final volume in Delphian's European Music Archaeology Project offers fragments and reconstructions of ancient Greek music.

Carolina Eyck

Elegies for Theremin & Voice

A groundbreaking treatment of the theremin by Carolina Eyck, who mixes it with her own voice.

Christopher Jacobson / Kazuki Yamada

Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, Widor

Christopher Jacobsen plays organ favorites by Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, and Widor in this organ extravaganza from the audiophile label Pentatone.

Claudio Abbado / Lucerne Festival Orchestra

Bruckner I/IX

Claudio Abbado's critically acclaimed live recordings of Bruckner's First and Ninth Symphonies are paired in this 2019 package from Accentus.

Cédric Tiberghien

Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage, Troisième Année & Other Late Piano Works

Cédric Tiberghien reveals a strong aptitude for the late piano works of Franz Liszt in the Années de pélerinage, troisîème année and other pieces.

Daniel Lozakovich / Stanislav Soloviev / National Philharmonic of Russia

None but the Lonely Heart

Sensational Tchaikovsky performed by the young violinist Daniel Lozakovich.

Danish String Quartet

Prism II: Beethoven, Schnittke, Bach

Awe-inspiring performances reflect on the fugue and its continuing significance, with a blistering performance of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge.

Derek Jacobi / Septura

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker arranged for Brass Septet

Not only a vivid reduction of Tchaikovsky's score but a novel presentation with text by one of the septet's members.

Dina Ugorskaja / Peter Gülke / Brandenburger Symphoniker

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 15; Intermezzi Op. 117

Deliberate, beautifully detailed reading of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1.

Elizabeth Kenny

Ars longa: Old and new music for theorbo

Elizabeth Kenny's recital of old and new works for theorbo reveals its potential beyond its historical use as a basso continuo instrument.

Emmanuelle Bertrand

Johann Sebastian Bach: Complete Cello Suites

Emmanuelle Bertrand gives spontaneous performances of Bach's Cello Suites, playing an early 18th century cello with a Baroque bow.

Franz Halász

J.S. Bach: The Lute Suites

Superb, highly dramatic readings of Bach's lute suites on guitar.

François-Xavier Roth / Les Siècles

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique [2019]

The distinctive sonorities of Les Siècles' early Romantic instruments make Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique and Les Francs-Juges burst with color.

Freek Borstlap / Spirit of Gambo

John Jenkins: Consort Music for Viols in Five Parts

The Fantasies in Five Parts by English composer John Jenkins receive polished performances by the Netherlandish viol consort, The Spirit of Gambo.

Gabriel Feltz / Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2

Gabriel Feltz and the Stuttgart Philharmonic present a unified and powerful reading of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection").

Garrick Ohlsson

Brahms: Clavierstücke; Fantasias; Intermezzos

Magisterial Brahms from a giant of American pianism.

Hermitage Piano Trio

Rachmaninoff

The Hermitage Piano Trio presents Rachmaninoff's piano trios in exceptional multichannel sound provided by Reference Recordings.

Jennifer Pike / Petr Limonov

The Polish Violin

Densely expressive chamber works by Szymanowski and others, played with passionate commitment.

John Eliot Gardiner / London Symphony Orchestra

Schumann: Symphonies Nos 2 & 4

An all-Schumann program that may surprise some listeners is presented live by John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Kirill Gerstein / Semyon Bychkov / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

The Tchaikovsky Project: Complete Symphonies, Orchestral Works, Complete Piano Concertos

Semyon Bychkov's The Tchaikovsky Project includes the six numbered symphonies, the three piano concertos, and other orchestral works.

Klenke-Quartett

Mozart: String Quartets

The Klenke-Quartett's recordings of Mozart's "Haydn" Quartets and "Prussian" Quartets have been reissued in five-CD set.

Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset

François Couperin: Les Nations

Superb, sensuous performances of Couperin's set that claimed to evoke national styles.

Lucie Horsch / Bojan Čičić / Academy of Ancient Music

Baroque Journey

A thoroughly impressive Baroque program from the Netherlands' teenage recorder prodigy.

Manfred Honeck / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra deliver a powerful performance of Bruckner's most deeply religious symphony.

Masaaki Suzuki / Bach Collegium Japan

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Following their 2018 Missa Solemnis recording, Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan present Beethoven's Ninth in a lean and focused performance.

Masaaki Suzuki

Masaaki Suzuki plays Bach Organ Works, Vol. 3: Passacaglia in C minor

For his third volume of Bach's organ music on BIS, Masaaki Suzuki plays the Gottfried Silbermann organ at Freiberg Cathedral.

Maurizio Pollini

Chopin: Nocturnes Op. 55; Mazurkas Op. 56; Berceuse Op. 57; Sonata Op. 58

Pollini's chronological approach yields fresh insights from the great Chopin interpreter.

Myung-Whun Chung / Staatskapelle Dresden

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonie Nr. 3 Es-Dur Op. 55 "Eroica"

Myung-Whun Chung leads the Staatskapelle Dresden in a bracing performance of Beethoven's monumental and influential "Eroica" Symphony.

Olivier Latry

Bach to the Future

Brilliant organ recording that was the last one made at Notre-Dame cathedral before the fire of 2019.

Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler 1

Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra deliver an exceptional performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major.

Pauline Kim / Spencer Topel

Heroine

Pauline Kim Harris and Spencer Topel have created two ambient works that suggest the infinite through acoustic and electronic means.

Pavel Kolesnikov

Chopin: Impromptus, Waltzes & Mazurkas

Pavel Kolesnikov performs a collection of Chopin's short piano pieces, paying close attention to details and musical proportions.

Peter Eötvös

Peter Eötvös: Gliding - Four Works for Symphonic Orchestra

Péter Eötvös leads the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in performances of his orchestral works composed between 2002 and 2017.

Pierre Hantaï

Scarlatti: Sonates, 6

Continuing his series of Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas for Mirare, Pierre Hantaï's sixth volume reveals many surprises.

Riccardo Chailly / Lucerne Festival Orchestra

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Tod Und Verklärung; Till Eulenspiegel; Salome's Dance

Riccardo Chailly leads the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in vivid performances of Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra and other tone poems.

Rinaldo Alessandrini / Concerto Italiano

Johann Bach: Ouvertures for Orchestra

Orchestral suites by Johann Sebastian Bach and two of his second cousins receive period performances from Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano

Sandrine Piau / Julien Chauvin

Si j'ai Aimé

Sublime recording from Piau of French mélodies, familiar and new, with period instruments.

Stenhammar Quartet

Debussy, Tailleferre, Ravel

The string quartets of Debussy and Ravel bookend the single quartet of Germaine Tailleferre on this hybrid SACD from the Stenhammar Quartet.

Takács String Quartet / Marc-André Hamelin

Dohnányi: Piano Quintets; String Quartet No. 2

Unjustly neglected works by Bartók's Brahmsian predecessor are given superb performances here.

Thomas Zehetmair

Johann Sebastian Bach: Sei Solo - The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

Thomas Zehetmair revisits Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, using two Baroque instruments to capitalize on their different sonorities.

Thomas Zehetmair / Musikkollegium Winterthur

Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 D minor (Version 1877)

Thomas Zehetmair takes Bruckner's Third at a brisk clip and delivers a clear-headed and clean performance with Musikkollegium Winterthur.

Trio Zimmermann

Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations

Violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, violist Antoine Tamestit, and cellist Christian Poltéra explore Bach's Goldberg Variations in a fresh transcription.

Vladimir Feltsman

Frédéric Chopin: Mazurki

Vladimir Feltsman explores the private world of Chopin's mazurkas while communicating a sense of directness and sophistication.

Wei Luo

Wei Luo

The latest American-trained Chinese sensation has a really distinctive way with Russian music.

Carolina Eyck