Early + Baroque Music
Hadyn - Mozart - Beethoven
Austro - German Early Romanticism
Austro - German Romanticism
Romanticism in France + Spain
Romanticism in Russia + Eastern Europe
Post - Romanticism
20th Century in France + Spain
20th Century in Eastern Europe + Russia
20th Century in Vienna
20th Century in the Americas
20th Century in Britain
101 Best Classical Music CDs:
(Elgar, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff)
ELGAR (1857-1934): Enigma Variations - Cello Concerto
Heinrich Schiff, cello
London Symphony Orchestra
Colin Davis, Sir Neville Marriner, conductors
As in the literary works of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), Edward Elgar's
music glorifies the power and values of Victorian and Edwardian England.
Influenced by the post-romantic aesthetic, the compositions on this disc
express with poignant sincerity the ineluctable decline of the British
Empire. If the languid and nostalgic atmosphere of James Ivory's
Howards End or Remains of the Day moved you, this
is a disc for you.
MAHLER (1860-1911): Symphony no 2 "Resurrection"
Sylvia McNair, Jard van Nes
Bernard Haitink, conductor
The Resurrection with its "Rise ye the dead" is the
the most Catholic composition of the Jewish composer Gustav Mahler. It
boasts several great interpretations: Walter/Sony Classical,
Klemperer/EMI, Bernstein/DG - but the one that Bernard Haitink just made
with the Berlin Philharmonic is reviting. Audiophiles will definitely get
their money's worth. Play it loud - and to hell with the neighbors.
MAHLER (1860-1911): Symphony no 6 (+ Strauss: Metamorphosen)
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Sir John Barbirolli, conductor
Completed in 1904, Mahler's Sixth, with its boot noises and war
sounds prefigures the butchery of World War I. Sir John Barbirolli's
(1899-1970) recording gives you not just the Battle of Verdun, but above
all the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warn your neighbors.
R. STRAUSS (1864-1949): Don Juan - Till Eulenspiegel - Ein
Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) - Also Sprach Zarathoustra - Tod und Verklärung
(Death and Transfiguration) - Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier.
Rudolf Kempe, conductor
The orchestral music of Richard Strauss is a surprising yet brilliant
mix of Mozart and Wagner. A master of swooning elegance, his success was
(and remains) enormous. Without Strauss, hollywood music wouldn't exist.
The perfect Strauss orchestra the Dresden Staatskapelle reinvents, under
the baton of Rudof Kempe, "wide-screen" music.
R. STRAUSS (1864-1949): Four Last Songs - Songs for Soprano and
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Berlin Radio Symphony
George Szell, conductor
Strauss was the last of the Romantics. Composed in 1948, given its
premiere in 1950 by Kirsten Flagstad and Wilhelm Furtwängler, the
Four Last Songs are Strauss' testament and mark the end of an era.
The german soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was in complete symbiosis with
this soaring music, in total disregard of musical trends of the time.
SIBELIUS (1865-1957): Symphonies no 1 + 7
Carl von Garaguly, conductor
Jean Sibelius' music is one of the most visual there is. It traces
blinding horizon lines and is striking by its leonine power. Recently
rereleased on a budget-priced CD, it includes the first and last symphony
of the Finnish composer who, for obscure reasons, destroyed the manuscript
of his Eighth Symphony. This is the most astonishing Sibelius disc ever
SCRIABIN (1872-1915): Sonata-Fantasia no 2 - 24 Préludes
- Poème Satanique - 3 Etudes op. 65 - Sonata no 10
The work of a visionary mind, obsessed with the occult arts, Alexander
Scriabin's music smells of sulfur. His own son-in-law Vladimir
Sofronitzky, a notorious heroine addict, and Vladimir Horowitz, as mad as
he was brilliant, had a privileged relationship with Scriabin's piano
music. Every bit as stunning as his two illustrious predecessors, the
Korean Kun Woo Paik distinguishes himself from them through his Zen
perspective on this music.
RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943): Piano Concertos no 2 + 3
Byron Janis, piano
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony
Antal Dorati, conductor
Sergei Rachmaninoff is a real case: a rather austere and depressed
personality, he wrote music of shameless sensuality. Dark works full of
irony, lush musicality and robust virtuosity, Rachmaninoff's Second
and Third Piano Concertos always find an audience. While the
second is particularly seductive and figures on the c.v. of any working
pianist, the third piano concerto has always been reserved for only the
most legendary pianistic talents. It requires the forces of a crack
orchestra and a powerful chef. The joke amongst pianists attending a
performance is: how many notes did he or she drop on the way through?
American pianist Byron Janis not only plays them all, but takes you "surfing"
from climax to climax with compelling insight and power.