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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

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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

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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

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Superbly detailed Schubert on an 1820 fortepiano.

Anne Laver

Reflections of Light

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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

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

Callum Armstrong / Barnaby Brown / Stef Conner

Apollo & Dionysus: Sounds from Classical Antiquity

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

Carolina Eyck

Elegies for Theremin & Voice

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

Christopher Jacobson / Kazuki Yamada

Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, Widor

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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

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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

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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

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Sensational Tchaikovsky performed by the young violinist Daniel Lozakovich.

Danish String Quartet

Prism II: Beethoven, Schnittke, Bach

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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

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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

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

Elizabeth Kenny

Ars longa: Old and new music for theorbo

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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

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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

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

François-Xavier Roth / Les Siècles

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique [2019]

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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

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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

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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

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Magisterial Brahms from a giant of American pianism.

Hermitage Piano Trio

Rachmaninoff

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

Jennifer Pike / Petr Limonov

The Polish Violin

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

John Eliot Gardiner / London Symphony Orchestra

Schumann: Symphonies Nos 2 & 4

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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

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

Klenke-Quartett

Mozart: String Quartets

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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

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

Lucie Horsch / Bojan Čičić / Academy of Ancient Music

Baroque Journey

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

Manfred Honeck / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

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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

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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

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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

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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"

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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

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

Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler 1

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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

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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

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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

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

Pierre Hantaï

Scarlatti: Sonates, 6

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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

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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

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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

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

Stenhammar Quartet

Debussy, Tailleferre, Ravel

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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

Wei Luo

Wei Luo

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

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Carolina Eyck