The best of the best

There is always going to be a demand for great music in great performances, and recorded music will always be an essential adjunct to what happens in the concert hall and opera house. It’s what we’ve been celebrating since 1923 when Compton Mackenzie saw an opportunity to comment on what then was a fairly new medium. I think he’d have been amazed at the breadth of the recorded offering that arrives at our offices week after week. And I think he’d have been equally amazed at the staggeringly high level of performance the vast majority of new recordings attain. Of course, as the old adage goes, ‘the good is the enemy of the best’. This digital magazine isn’t about the good; it’s about the best!

Drawing together the 10 recordings selected as Editor’s Choices each month, led off by a Recording of the Month, we offer 130 releases (we publish a magazine each month and an extra Awards issue) that we are proud to stand by as the finest of 2015. Add to that the 13 recordings that received Gramophone Awards – and there are inevitably overlaps between the monthly selection and this annual event – and you have a pretty impressive line-up that ref lects the breadth and depth of the classical industry’s annual output.

Our Recording of the Year (introduced on page 32) is a posthumous release from Claudio Abbado, a powerful live performance of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, recorded at the last concert Abbado conducted. There are many different, and powerful, currents at work here, but at the end of the day, it’s a mightily impressive reading of one of music’s great unfinished creations.

It’s always heartening when a work from the ‘core’ repertoire receives a new, and truly great, recording, and two of this year’s Recordings of the Month also took Awards (bearing in mind only half of the year’s releases were eligible for the 2015 Awards – July to December will have their chance next year!): Piotr Anderzewski’s stunning recording of three Bach English Suites and the Pavel Haas Quartet’s Smetana string quartets. Both recordings must take their place alongside the classics that already have a special place in the catalogue. Whether you buy your music on CD, download it or stream it, there’s bound to be something in the pages that follow that will pique your interest and, I hope, provide you with the pleasure that a great recording can. Once again, we present this digital magazine in association with Qobuz – simply click on the sleeve image and (provided you live in a country where Qobuz operate) you can sample the recordings as you read. James Jolly December 2015

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Special digital edition edited and designed by James McCarthy and James Jolly Advertising Sales manager Esther Zuke / 020 7501 6368

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Violinist Rachel Podger: her

Vivaldi album was our Recording of the Month in April