KlassikNet: 101 Best Classical CDs
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101 Best Classical Music CDs:
Hadyn - Mozart - Beethoven

HAYDN (1732-1809): The Creation
Gundula Janowitz, Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Walter Berry
Wiener Singverein
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

Haydn's oratorio The Creation, where he puts to music the birth of the universe, has two spectacular bits: "Chaos" and the final chorus. This version ranks as the most polished and the most accomplished in terms of the orchestra and chorus. It is one of Herbert von Karajan's greatest records.

HAYDN (1732-1809): Symphonies no 93, 94, 95 + 98
Staatskapelle Dresden
Eugen Jochum, conductor
Berlin Classics

Symbolizing the height of Viennese classicism, Haydn's four London symphonies are the equal of the great symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven...with a sense of humor thrown in! Eugen Jochum (1902-1987), who mastered these scores like nobody else, leads the Dresden Staatskapelle, the oldest and most aristocratic of German orchestras.

HAYDN (1732-1809): Six Last Piano Sonatas
Glenn Gould, piano
Sony Classical

Haydn's piano sonatas, masterpieces adored by Beethoven, are pieces bubbling with intelligence. Known for his iconoclastic and sometimes "off the deep end" readings of Bach and Mozart, the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) signs a recording whose refinement and tonal nobility inspire admiration.

MOZART (1756-1791): Requiem
Edith Mathis, Julia Hamari, Wieslaw Ochman, Karl Ridderbusch
Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wiener Philharmoniker
Karl Böhm, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

Despite having been finished after his death by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayer, Mozart's Requiem remains one of Western music's all time "hits". Karl Böhm's second version for Deutsche Grammophon (the first, recorded on Philips, was splendid) is one of those rare recordings which makes history. A classic.

MOZART (1756-1791): Don Giovanni
Cesare Siepi, Lisa Della Casa, Suzanne Danco, Fernando Corena, Anton Dermota, Hilde Gueden, Walter Berry, Kurt Böhme
Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wiener Philharmoniker
Josef Krips, conductor

According to Wagner, Don Giovanni was "the opera of operas"; In other words, it is unthinkable not to include it in your record library. Warning! Don't buy the wrong version. Thanks to an exuberant orchestra and soloists, this recording under the leadership of Josef Krips is fabulous and the famous dinner scene where Don Giovanni defies the statue of the Commandeur (better than Hammer Studios!) is simply terrifying.

MOZART (1756-1791): The Magic Flute
Gundula Janowitz, Lucia Popp, Nicolai Gedda, Walter Berry, Gottlob Frick, Christa Ludwig, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra
Otto Klemperer, conductor

An opera which dramatizes the struggle between good and evil, innocence and sin and all the rest, The Magic Flute has an improbable cast of hallucinogenic characters: Papageno, the batty bird-catcher; Pamino and Tamino as the perfect TV sitcom suburban couple; Sarastro a crusty old bore; and the unforgettable Queen of the Night - an unlikely cross between a Studio 54 drag queen and a New York feminist. Up to you to find the moral to this story. The "tongue in cheek" German conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) keeps a straight face throughout.

MOZART (1756-1791): Symphonies no 21-41
Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
Josef Krips, conductor

In just six chock-full CDs, Philips gives you Mozart's most famous symphonies. Why Krips? Because his frank and luminous musical direction gets straight to the point.

MOZART (1756-1791): Piano Concertos no 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 20 + 27
Rudolf Serkin, piano
Philadelphia Orchestra, Marlboro Festival Orchestra, Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy, George Szell, Alexander Schneider
Sony Classical

Like the Beethoven "Emperor" concerto, the Mozart piano concertos exist on a plane of their own. Their supernatural beauty makes them immediately accessible. Mozart has rarely ever sounded so right as he does in the hands of the Czech-born pianist Rudolph Serkin (1903-1991). Available at mid-price on Sony Classical, this collection is terrific value for money.

MOZART (1756-1791): Piano Sonatas K.333+545 - Rondo K.494 - Allegro K.533
Sviatoslav Richter, piano

Imagine packing your favorite piano into a rented van, driving out into the French countryside, stopping at a particular wheat field that strikes you just so, rounding up some of the locals and giving a historic performance of Mozart sonatas in a barn. That should give you an idea of the appeal of Ukranian-born Sviatoslav Richter, who at 80 is today's leading draw in concert pianists. Critics often say that Mozart piano sonatas are too difficult for children and too easy for adults. Richter proves the opposite.

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): Symphonies no 5+7
Wiener Philharmoniker
Carlos Kleiber, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

Number one on the hit parade since 1808, Beethoven's Fifth was the first symphony to be recorded in its entirety. That was in Berlin in 1913 and the conductor Artur Nikisch was the Karajan of the time. Since then, there is no counting the number of recordings from excellent to impossible. Pay your money and take your choice. Many go for Carlos Kleiber (b. 1930), a conductor who, despite an intense cult following, is seen as rarely on the rostrum as Marlon Brando is on the screen. Warning! The recordings are rare, but once heard are not forgotten.

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): Piano Sonatas no 27-32
Solomon, piano

Beethoven's late piano sonatas present challenging enigmas for even the greatest of players. As a result, interpretations vary widely from one artist to the next, because of the intimate engagement between performer and composition through which meaning is either intuited from the piece or projected onto it. Some say Solomon (1902-1988), an English pianist, alas dead, was the one to get to the heart of these strange compositions.

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): Piano Concerto no 5 L'Empereur - Piano Sonata no 7
Edwin Fischer, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra
Wilhelm Furtwängler, conductor

There is no need to be a musicologist to understand that the marriage between pianist and conductor is so total that they have produced a performance truly worthy of the name Emperor. Whoever has not heard the "sincerity" of their second movement (adagio un poco mosso) has missed one of the miracles of recorded music. If you must have a stereo recording, choose the Michelangeli/Giulini version on Deutsche Grammophon.

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): Violin Concerto (+ Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Lalo)
Leonid Kogan, violin
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
Constantin Silvestri, conductor

A work which achieves great warmth, without pyrotechnical indulgence. Beethoven's violin concerto has been the subject of other splendid interpretations: Menuhin/Furtwängler (EMI), Ostrakh/Cluytens (EMI), Schneiderhan/Jochum (DG), Heifetz/Toscanini (RCA-BMG), Perlman/Giulini (EMI) to give some examples. The somewhat feverish interpretaion of Leonid Kogan has the great advantage of being accompanied by blood and guts interpretations of the Brahms and Tchaikovsky concertos. Two CDs for the price of one: who could resist?

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827): Missa Solemnis (+ Mozart: Coronation Mass)
Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Fritz Wunderlich, Walter Berry
Wiener Singverein
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

In the Missa Solemnis, Beethoven succeeds where Mahler, ultimately failed - to produce "absolute" music which knows no frontiers. Karajan, haunted by this enormous challenge, produced no less than four versions. Recorded in 1966, this interpretaion (not to be confused with the bloated one recorded in the '80s for DG) is blindingly beautiful, but venomous.

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