KlassikNet: 101 Best Classical CDs
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101 Best Classical Music CDs:
Austro-German Early Romanticism


SPOHR (1784-1859): Nonet op. 31 - Octet op. 32
Berliner Oktett
Berlin Classics

Composer, conductor and violinist, the German Louis Spohr was with Weber and Mendelssohn one of the major figures of early Romanticism. Clearly, music to be played "out of doors", these two brilliant works for strings and woodwinds have an irresistable pastoral charm. The Berlin Octet is simply glorious. Superb sound engineering.


SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Impromptus op. 90+142
Edwin Fischer, piano
Dante

When choosing a recording of the Schubert Impromptus, you might turn to the Swiss pianist Edwin Fischer (1886-1960). He remains the model for all; but if the date (1938) throws you, choose one of the two versions recorded by his distinguished pupil Alfred Brendel, who once said of Schubert's music: "Without it I should probably be less 'human.' "


SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Symphonies no 8 Unfinished + no 9
The Great Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell, conductor
Sony Classical

Composed four years after the famous Unfinished, the "Great" Symphony in C (1826) is the strongest orchestral work written between the Beethoven's Ninth (1827) and Bruckner's Fifth (1877). The tough-skinned George Szell (1897-1970) belonged to that extinct race of conductor-dictators. The Cleveland Orchestra, which became under his reign (1946-1970) one of the best in America (with Chicago and Philadelphia) possessed, in his hands, the power, lines and class of the most legendary Lamborghini.


SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Quintet in C - Quartettsatz
Weller Quartet, Dietfried Gürtler (second cello)
Decca

Chamber music is as central to Schubert's oeuvre as it is in Brahms. The Quintette in C for two violoncellos, which Schubert finished just before dying of syphilis, is one of his most emotionally disturbing works (not to be confused with the inoffensive Trout piano quintet). The Viennese Weller Quartet which had its moment of glory in the '60s, has left us a version which could be easily termed definitive.


SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Winterreise
Hans Hotter, bass-baritone
Michael Raucheisen, piano
Deutsche Grammophon

The undisputed master of the song for voice and piano, Schubert composed more than 600 melodies, many of which are masterpieces. At the head of this enormous production figures the immortal Winterreise. Originally written for tenor, this cycle expresses with a unique poetic and dramatic force man's disarray when confronted with his own solitude and death. Here, Schubert is the equal of the greatest Greek dramatists.


MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847): Ein Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Edith Wiens, Christiane Oertel
Rundfunkchor Leipzig
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Kurt Masur, conductor
Teldec

"Music of the elves", said Richard Strauss of Mendelssohn's Ein Sommernachtstraum and with Mendelssohn (and Bach) being the key composer of Leipzig, where would you find more magical music? The Leipziger musicians who recorded this version drank it in with their mother's milk. If your cousin's getting married next month, offer her this album - the Wedding March still works!



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