Gramophone Critics' Choices 2021

Every music lover would struggle to choose just one favourite album, but that is what Gramophone reviewers are tasked with each December as they choose their Top Albums of 2021. Each reviewer can select only one album so it makes each choice even more special. This year the following recordings have been chosen...

Handel: Rodelinda by The English Concert, Harry Bicket, Lucy Crowe & Iestyn Davies

Chosen by David Vickers who states: "This is that rarest of things - a Handel opera performance that gets pretty much everything just right ... the casting, from top to bottom, couldn't be more perfect."

Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I by Aaron Pilsan

Chosen by David Patrick Stearns who comments: "Playing on modern piano, Pilsan fully embodies the piece, with the exuberant fearlessness of a 26-year-old who doesn't put Bach on a pedestal."

Haydn 2032, Vol. 10: Les heures du jour by Giovanni Antonini & Il Giardino Armonico

Chosen by Richard Wigmore who writes: "Antonini and his crack period band outgun all the competition in colour, operatic brio and a twinkling sense of fun. My feel-good recording of the year."

And Love Said… by Jodie Devos & Nicolas Krüger

Chosen by Mark Pullinger who says "... this charmer of an album by Jodie Devos has slipped under the radar somewhat. It's a gorgeous collection of songs in English ..."

Piazzolla Reflections by Ksenija Sidorova

Chosen by Andrew Farach-Colton who comments: "For me, there was no choice but Astor Piazzolla for this, the tanguero's centenary year. And no tribute proved as thought-provoking and just plain enjoyable as Ksenija Sidorova's ... her sizzling recording of the Bandoneon Concerto can proudly stand alongside the composer's own."

Kodály: Duo for Violin and Violoncello, Op. 7 - Dvořák: Piano Trio, Op. 90 "Dumky" by Barnabás Kelemen, Nicolas Altstaedt & Alexander Lonquich

Chosen by Rob Cowan who states: "'À la mémoire des grands artistes' provides a moving subtext for wild-eyed performances where violinist Barnabás Kelemen, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and pianist Alexander Lonquich till the soil of Dvorák and Kodály. The album cover's dusty street musicians are vividly evoked in sound, the playing tastily idiomatic."

Debussy - Chopin - Mussorgsky by Behzod Abduraimov

Chosen by David Fanning who writes: "His latest recital makes the case, with Mussorgsky to rival the finest ever, supremely subtle Debussy, and Chopin as masterful in overall architecture as it is in detail."

Handel Rodelinda