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Best Recordings of 2016

Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2016 (published in whole on

My lists for the previous years: 20152014, 2013, 2012, 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost")
2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 1 - New Release

F.Schubert, R. Schumann, J. Brahms, R. Wagner, “Rheinmädchen”, Pygmalion (vocal ensemble), Raphaël Pichon (director), Harmonia Mundi

available at Amazon
Various, “Rheinmädchen”,
Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon
Harmonia Mundi

Transcriptions and original compositions for female chorus and a section of historical French horns are poured into an evocative, eclectic narrative of six chapters about “Rhinemaidens” on this release.

Where there are girls and horns (no wabbits), Wagner can’t be far behind and so a version of Wagner’s Rheingold overture for 24 female voices, harp, horn-quartet, and bass opens proceedings. We meander through the heartland of German romantic music — Schumann, Brahms, Schubert — sometimes acapella, sometimes via horn quartet, or solo. There’s a delicious cameo by Bernarda Fink in Schubert’s Ständchen (his version for mezzo, female chorus and harp).

It’s altogether sunny and transfixing and novel and really everything a CD recital should be....

# 1 – Reissue

Johann Sebastian Bach, The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080, André Isoir (organ), La Dolce Volta

available at Amazon
Johann Sebastian Bach,
The Art of the Fugue BWV 1080,
André Isoir (organ)
La Dolce Volta

...All of Isoir’s Bach has been re-issued this or last year by the dreamy-wonderful, luxurious packaged, splendidly annotating La Dolce Volta label… and his Art of the Fugue separately (ditto the Organ concertos), just as it had always been available separately before. (It makes sense; it really is a stand-alone work and not part of the organ canon per se.) In any case, it’s so good to see an old favorite back (it has had every French classical music magazine award thrown at it in its lifetime, for whatever that’s worth) – and better-looking than ever.

But of course it’s not just the looks of this re-mastered re-issue (it comes mid-price packaged with the 2015 La Dolce Volta catalogue, much like the Calliope-re-issue did, which is a cutely old fashioned marketing ploy I used to make great advantage of in my student days, hoping for particularly coveted records to become more affordable thusly). It is Isoir’s way with this still fairly elusive and austere music of Bach’s that makes it such a happy re-release. (Full review here: here)...

The complete list of the "Best Classical Recordings of 2017 on can be found here, for new releases. For re-issues, here.

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