This week The Sunday Times music critics picked their top albums of 2014. The list of 20 classical records features 12 Askonas Holt artists including the late Claudio Abbado and Frans Brüggen.
ELGAR Symphony No 2 Staatskapelle Berlin, cond Daniel Barenboim (Decca)
Barenboim returns Elgar to the European mainstream with this richly conceived, eloquently played Second Symphony.
SCHUMANN Scenes from Goethe’s Faust Christian Gerhaher, Christiane Karg, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, cond Daniel Harding (BR Klassik)
Harding makes a passionate advocate for a still neglected score, with an ideal Faust and Gretchen in Christian Gerhaher and Christiane Karg.
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No 13 (“Babi Yar”) Alexander Vinogradov, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, cond Vasily Petrenko (Naxos)
The final instalment of Petrenko’s remarkable Liverpool Shostakovich cycle is a world-class achievement.
OFFENBACH Fantasio Opera Rara Chorus, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, cond Mark Elder (Opera Rara)
The company lives up to its name with this enchanting novelty based on Paul de Musset. Sarah Connolly and Brenda Rae duet rapturously.
HANDEL Your Tuneful Voice — Oratorio Arias Iestyn Davies, The King’s Consort, cond Robert King (Vivat)
Davies establishes himself as the foremost British countertenor of his generation with this must-have collection of oratorio arias.
SCHUMANN The Symphonies Scottish Chamber Orchestra, cond Robin Ticciati (Linn)
In a competitive year, Ticciati’s lithe, youthful accounts of the great works produced the trump card.
ELGAR The Dream of Gerontius/Sea Pictures BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, cond Andrew Davis (Chandos) with Sarah Connolly and David Soar
Stuart Skelton’s heroic Gerontius and Davis’s spacious conducting bring a whiff of Parsifal to Elgar’s oratorio. Sarah Connolly’s Angel and Sea Pictures are vintage, too.
DVORAK Cello Concerto Alisa Weilerstein, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, cond Jiri Belohlavek (Decca)
With this impassioned reading of arguably the greatest cello concerto, the young American challenges the greats.
BRUCKNER Symphony No 9 Lucerne Festival Orchestra, cond Claudio Abbado (DG)
The great Italian maestro’s last concert included this transcendental account of Bruckner’s final, unfinished symphony.
WALTON Symphony No 1, Violin Concerto Tasmin Little, BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond Edward Gardner (Chandos)
Two of the English composer’s most brilliant and original youthful masterpieces sound fresh-minted here.
MOZART The Last Three Symphonies Orchestra of the 18th Century, cond Frans Brüggen (Glossa)
These stylish period-instrument — but invigorating — readings are a fitting memorial to the Dutch musician, who died this year.
for the full list.