The Best Albums of 2010: Andrew McGregor
CD Review presenter Andrew McGregor is a fellow in a rare position - not only does he front a show featuring some of the finest classical sounds to his ears, he also contributes reviews to BBC Music. You can listen to his show every Saturday morning on Radio 3, at 9am, and find the show's pages (for listening again purposes - there's also an archive for Building a Library) here; Andrew's written reviews, those you can find here. Whether there are any "brick walls of semi-quavers" amongst his top releases of the year, below, only a listen for yourself will reveal.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)
(Cast / Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / René Jacobs)
A Mozart masterpiece re-imagined, the dialogue re-integrated - and filled to the brim with colour and fantasy. You can believe that Mozart himself, directing from the keyboard, might have inspired such an effervescent account, and even if you know the opera backwards, this may still surprise and delight you. Beyond refreshing.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews
David Briggs - Messe de Notre Dame (Notre Dame Mass)
(Choir of Trinity College Cambridge / David Briggs)
Briggs is a phenomenal improviser, and his mass shows you how fluently he's able to speak the language of the great French romantic organists and composers, taking the harmonic conversation places even Langlais, Dupré or Duruflé might not have dared. Outrageously rich harmonies, glorious singing, a spectacular organ sound, and a recording that's out of this world.
David Briggs on BBC Music
Hugo Wolf - Italienisches Liederbuch (Italian Songbook)
(Julia Kleiter, soprano / Christoph Prégardien, tenor / Hilko Dumno, piano)
Just when I'd despaired of a decent new recording of Wolf's songs in his 150th birthday year, this one saves the day...fully revealing the startling originality and strange intensity of Wolf's settings. Kleiter and Prégardien are emotionally compelling, and Dumno's pianism is a revelation.
Hugo Wolf on BBC Music
Richard Strauss - Great Strauss Scenes
(Christine Brewer, soprano (with Eric Owens, bass-baritone) / Atlanta Symphony Orchestra / Donald Runnicles)
If the first notes of this disc don't raise the hairs on the back of your neck, then you may need urgent medical attention. From the unhinged savagery of Elektra to the ecstatic insanity of Salome, here's one of the great Straussian sopranos at the top of her game, luridly accompanied and recorded. And if you want Brewer in a complete Strauss opera, try 'Ariadne on Naxos', from the Opera in English series on Chandos. Outstanding.
Richard Strauss on BBC Music
Dmitri Shostakovich - The Preludes and Fugues Op. 87
(Alexander Melnikov, piano)
Shostakovich's response to Bach's '48', brilliantly interrogated and inhabited by this thoughtfully virtuosic young Russian. There seem to be new rewards and fresh insights at every turn, and it's a forceful reminder of the quality of Shostakovich's inspiration.
Dmitri Shostakovich on BBC Music