The Best Classical Music Albums Right Now

Check out our top picks for the best classical music albums you can buy right now.

Best Solo Album:

If you’re looking for the best solo classical music album, you can’t go wrong with Bach’s Goldberg Variations, played by pianist Glenn Gould. Gould’s performance is dazzling, and the album has been praised by critics as one of the best classical albums of all time.

Joshua Bell, “The Classical Album 2020”

Bell’s playing is virtuosic but not blinding, his touch light but not airy; it’s hard to take your ears off him. On The Classical Album 2020, he assembles a generous sampler of music from the baroque to the modern era that shows off both his technique and his sensitivity to a wide range of styles.

The most striking thing about this collection is Bell’s unfailing ability to make each piece sound alive and fresh. Whether it’s Bach’s “Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004: III. Sarabande” or Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto, Op. 14: II. Andante”, Bell brings an almost magical quality to the music, making it sound new and exciting despite the fact that we’ve heard it many times before. His playing is always technically impeccable, but it’s his deep understanding of the emotional core of each piece that really sets him apart.

The Classical Album 2020 is a great introduction to Bell’s playing for those who are new to his work, and longtime fans will be thrilled with his interpretations of these well-known pieces.

Daniil Trifonov, “Piano Works”

Daniil Trifonov has been one of the most acclaimed classical musicians of the past decade, and his newest album, “Piano Works,” is a beautifully crafted collection of solo piano pieces that showcases his incredible talent. From Chopin to Rachmaninoff, Trifonov expertly navigates each composition with precision and feeling, creating an album that is both technically impressive and emotionally moving. If you’re looking for a classical album that will truly dazzle you, “Piano Works” is an essential listen.

Best Chamber Album:

If you’re looking for elegant, heart-wrenching classical music, you can’t go wrong with this album. It features some of the most talented classical musicians in the world, and the pieces are carefully curated to provide the perfect listening experience. If you’re a fan of classical music, this is a must-have album.

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, “Beethoven: The Late String Quartets”

One of the world’s most popular and enduring chamber ensembles, the London-based Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has been recording together since its formation in 1956. The group is currently led by violinist Joshua Bell, and its latest release is a collection of Beethoven’s late string quartets.

The Academy’s recordings of these quartets have been highly praised, with The Guardian calling them ” among the finest on record.” And The Telegraph says the album “confirms the ensemble’s place at the top of the classical music world.”

If you’re looking for a masterful performance of some of Beethoven’s most beautiful and moving music, this album is a must-hear.

Quatuor Ébène, “Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets”

If you’re looking for the best chamber music album right now, you can’t go wrong with Quatuor Ébène’s “Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets.” This French string quartet has been making waves in the classical music world for their innovative interpretations of well-known repertoire, and their Beethoven cycle is no exception.

Their performance of the late string quartets is particularly impressive, displaying a deep understanding of Beethoven’s complex compositional style. But even if you’re not a diehard classical music fan, you’ll still be able to appreciate the sheer beauty of this album. It’s truly one of the best classical albums out there right now.

Best Orchestral Album:

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake has been a sensational hit since it was composed in 1876. This critically acclaimed album by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, is the best recording of the Swan Lake ballet music available.

Simon Rattle, “Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – The Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings”

Simon Rattle, “Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – The Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings”

This is a live album that was recorded over six years, from 2008 to 2014. It features the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra playing under the direction of Simon Rattle. The repertoire on the album is varied, and includes works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Ravel, and Schumann.

Antonio Pappano, “The Pappano Recordings”

Over the course of his long career, conductor Antonio Pappano has built up an impressive catalogue of recordings, both with orchestras he has led on a regular basis – like the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – and with other ensembles. This 20-CD box set, released by Warner Classics to mark Pappano’s 60th birthday, brings together some of his most acclaimed recorded performances.

The set includes complete opera recordings of Verdi’s “Otello” and Puccini’s “Turandot”, both conducted with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; Wagner’s “Parsifal”, conducted with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and a selection of symphonies by Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Mahler and Shostakovich, all conducted with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. There are also live recordings of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” and Rossini’s “Stabat Mater”, both conducted with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Pappano is a consummate musical craftsman, and these recordings display his mastery of a wide range of repertoire. Whether it’s the searing drama of Verdi or Wagner, the lush melodies of Puccini or Rossini, or the grandeur of Beethoven or Mahler, Pappano brings out all the music’s emotional power. His conducting is always full of energy and commitment, but it is also refined and sensitive. He gets excellent results from all the orchestras he works with – they are all playing at the top of their game. And he is well matched by a roster of stellar soloists and vocalists, including Placido Domingo, Bryn Terfel, Angela Gheorghiu and Maria Guleghina.

This is a magnificent set that will be treasured by Pappano fans – and anyone who loves great classical music.

Best Opera Album:

There are a lot of great opera albums out there, but our top pick is The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This album is a classic and has stood the test of time. It is a must-have for any opera fan.

David McVicar, “The Royal Opera – The McVicar Recordings”

David McVicar, “The Royal Opera – The McVicar Recordings” (Deutsche Grammophon)

Possibly the most comprehensive single-album overview of British conductor David McVicar’s Glyndebourne Festival Opera tenure to date, this generous four-disc set spotlights his interpretations of some of the major works in the company’s repertoire. Among them are three Richard Strauss operas conducted by Mr. McVicar in 2014: “Der Rosenkavalier,” “Ariadne auf Naxos” and “Capriccio.” In each instance, Mr. McVicar draws strongly characterized performances from the Glyndebourne Chorus and Orchestra, with standouts including sopranos Kate Royal (as the Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier”) and Carolyn Sampson (as Zerbinetta in “Ariadne”), mezzo-soprano Claire de Sévigné (Octavia in “Der Rosenkavalier”), tenor Lawrence Brownlee (Belmonte in “Die Entführung aus dem Serail”) and baritones Christopher Maltman ( Baron Ochs von Lerchenau in “Der Rosenkavalier”) and Rodney Gilfry (the Count in “Capriccio”).

Richard Jones, “The Royal Opera – The Jones Recordings”

We love Richard Jones’s work at The Royal Opera, and this latest album is a perfect example of why. Featuring six different Royal Opera productions, it’s a feast for the ears, and Jones’s passion for opera truly shines through. The recordings are all top-notch, and the performances are all simply outstanding. If you’re a fan of opera, or of classical music in general, this is an album you need in your collection.

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