It will be no surprise to find J.S. Bach topping the list of the ten greatest composers. With a wealth of works to choose from - Brandenburg Concertos, Cello Suites, Partitas, Goldberg Variations, Preludes & Fugues, Magnificat, John Passion and Oratorios - it was hard to choose which to include. Prize-winning Bach specialist John Butt O.B.E. and distinguished violinist Lucy Russell's historically informed performance of Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord won the day.
'...for sheer freshness, insight and life-enhancing joy, this newcomer goes to the top of the class.' BBC Music Magazine
Mozart's instrumental and vocal works are both represented on the latest recording of arias and overtures by Elizabeth Watts and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. BBC Music Magazine and MusicWeb International both named it 'Recording of the Month' and Classic FM named it 'CD of the Week' describing it as 'a marriage made in musical heaven'.
'Wherever you dip into this disc you will find singing of great character, freshness and refinement that marks out all of Elizabeth Watts' performances, making this a disc to return to often with much pleasure. Highly recommended.' SA-CD.net
Artur Pizarro makes the case brilliantly for Beethoven with his recording of the famous 'Pathetique', 'Moonlight', 'Tempest' and 'Appassionata' sonatas. This recording was Pizarro's debut recording after winning the 1990 Leeds International Piano Competition and won instant acclaim from the critics.
'Let no one say that there is no room for another set of established masterpieces when the pianist is possessed with this sort of recreative energy and exuberance.' Gramophone
Schubert makes the top 10 list with his popular song-cycle Winterreise, performed here by Peter Harvey with pianist Gary Cooper. The listener is taken on an intense, dramatic journey; Harveys' expressive baritone perfectly captures the bleak emotions of the wanderer in this beautiful work.
'Especially impressive is his utterly velvety legato and the exceptional fluidity and suppleness of his phrasing. For both its vocal and instrumental color and its interpretive sophistication, this is a Winterreise not to be missed.' AllMusic
The Hallelujah Chorus remains one of the most recognisable choruses in history taken from one of Handel's choral masterpieces, Messiah. The Dunedin Consort's Dublin version signifies an exciting and historically considered representation of Messiah, which recaptures something of the freshness of the first public performances and won the ensemble its first Gramophone Award.
'Highly recommended - indeed, this version is probably the first choice for this ever popular work.' SA-CD.net
One of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music Stravinsky's neoclassical style is in evidence in this recording by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Encompassing Apollon Musagète and The Pulcinella Suite the COE's performance was described as 'one of the best of 2009' by AllMusic.
'The quality of the playing is also superlative...adding plenty of zip and sparkle - the finishing touch to a luxuriant and fairly romantic sounding feast of easy-going and youthfully buoyant Stravinsky.' MusicWeb International
Vivaldi's best-known work is, without doubt, 'The Four Seasons' which form part of his Op. 8 collection of twelve concerti. The Avison Ensemble presents an insightful performance of the masterpiece that is brimming with energy.
Artistic quality 10 / Sound quality:10: '...ideally realized by the superb period-instrument Avison Ensemble and recorded in vibrant, extraordinarily detailed sound. Beznosiuk is as formidable--and engaging--as any virtuoso who's ever tackled these challenging pieces, and his orchestra provides consistently first-class support.' ClassicsToday
Boston Baroque's 40th Anniversary recording gives us two examples of why Haydn deserves his place in the top 10. The distinctive and memorable Lord Nelson Mass, arguably Haydn's greatest single composition, sits alongside the rambunctious Symphony No. 102.
'The desirability of this recording is only compounded by the terrific reading of the 102nd... Symphony... a wonderful release... can't be recommended highly enough.' Audiophile Audition
Tchaikovsky lands in the no. 9 spot and making the case perfectly is the Scottish Ensemble as they perform the Serenade, regarded by the composer as one of his finest works. Imbued with the classical spirit of Mozart, but with Tchaikovsky's style to the fore, the Serenade contains some strikingly effective scoring and an exhilarating Finale the ensemble relishes.
'The performance of the Serenade is exceptionally lively and fresh [with] a freshness and sense of enjoyment matching the general spirit of a performance.' Gramophone
Completing this collection is Chopin who created and defined many genres of Romantic piano music. Ingrid Fliter's wonderful recording of his Op. 28 showcases the great emotional power and unrivalled artistic quality of his music. Gramophone named this a 'Recording of the Month' and one of their 'Top 10 Chopin Recordings'.
'Fliter understands these pieces from the inside. You can hear from her playing not only that she adores the music but also that she appreciates the characteristics, the sentiments, the ideas that Chopin was distilling in these jewel-like creations... lyrical gifts that are manifest throughout a gorgeous disc.' The Telegraph