May 27, 2024

Five PENTATONE Releases Selected as ‘The Best Classical Albums of 2024 (So Far) – The Times (UK)

We are ecstatic to see five PENTATONE releases selected among the Best Classical Albums of 2024 (So Far) by The Times!

Schubert: Ländler (Pierre-Laurent Aimard)

“Whether you feel plunged into such twilight or not, it’s abundantly clear that Aimard’s approach to these miniature jewels is entirely suitable and rewarding. He shapes and shades the notes with poise and subtle inflections, yet nothing becomes overdone, precious or brittle.”

Haydn: Die Schöpfung (Christiane Karg, Benjamin Bruns, Tareq Nazmi, Dresdner Philharmonie, Marek Janowski)

Enjoyment of this requires no particular religious belief; the music’s sunny spirit and direct appeal easily carry the day. Marek Janowski’s account with the Dresden Philharmonic, taken from two concert performances in 2022, spreads its own joy through the musicians’ lively attack, the conductor and recording team’s successful quest for clarity and balance, and a programme note that requested from the audiences the “greatest possible quiet” . I didn’t even hear a pin drop.

Smetana: Má Vlast (Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov)

Whether the nationalistic mood being struck is lyrical or martial, Bychkov’s musicians deliver idiomatic rhythms, incisive string playing and equally pungent brass wind and brass, all caught in the warm acoustic of the Rudolfinum ― the orchestra’s home base in Prague for 60 years. Everything too appears freshly considered and deeply felt. Nothing is overplayed. And no one is pictured clutching a flower.

Rhapsody in Blue (Richard Galliano)

Galliano’s dexterity is spectacular enough for the nervous jazz rhythms to still come through, and his love for the music is infectious. This remarkable performance is available as a digital single; an entire Gershwin album will follow in the autumn.

Handel: Alcina (Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski, Magdalena Kožená, Erin Morley,  Anna Bonitatibus, Elizabeth DeShong)

“One aspect is resoundingly clear: the performances are almost entirely splendid. The first voice to enchant is the high-flying soprano of Erin Morley as Morgana, one half of the sibling witches in the impossible plot, carved from the monster verse epic ‘Orlando Furioso’ . But the most stunning singing comes from Magdalena Kozena as her volatile, man-hungry sister Alcina.”