Classical Best Versions

What Is The Very Best Version?

In a catalogue that lists over 200 recordings of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons", and even 60 versions of Orff's "Carmina Burana", which is the very best?

With the help of Gramophone, Penguin Stereo Guide, BBC Music, and our own ears, we have put together the definitive guide to the popular classics.

Here are a selection of recommended recordings that should find a place in everyone's collection.

Displaying items 1 to 20 of 223

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String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 cover
add to cart $25.00 Out of Stock
2-4 weeks
ENESCU
String Quartets Nos 1 & 2
Ad Libitum Quartet
[ Naxos / CD - released 1/May/2001 ]
2001 GRAMOPHONE AWARD FINALIST - Chamber
Satie: Gymnopedies and other piano works cover
add to cart $20.00 Low Stock
ERIK SATIE
Satie: Gymnopedies and other piano works
Aldo Ciccolini (piano)
[ Warner Classics Original Jacket Reissues / EMI / CD - released 20/Apr/2015 ]
"No more committed or convincing champion of this music could be found than Ciccolini, who equally well conveys, for example, the tenderness of the fifth Gnossienne, the pre-Poulenc pert humour and charm of the Morceaux en forme de poire and the...
MARBECKS COLLECTABLE: Shostakovich: The preludes and fugues cover
add to cart $45.00 Low Stock
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH
MARBECKS COLLECTABLE: Shostakovich: The preludes and fugues
Alexander Melnikov (piano)
[ Harmonia Mundi / 2 CD - released 10/Apr/2015 ]
"Melnikov unquestionably gives an impression of freshness and daring, as if he's discovering the music for the first time." (BBC Music Award WINNER 2011 - Instrumental)
Shostakovich: Piano Concertos nos.1 & 2 / Sonata for violin and piano op.134 cover
add to cart $35.00 Low Stock
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH
Shostakovich: Piano Concertos nos.1 & 2 / Sonata for violin and piano op.134
Alexander Melnikov (piano) / Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis, with Isabelle Faust (violin)
[ Harmonia Mundi / CD - released 20/Feb/2012 ]
"He makes his case well. The First Concerto is all rampaging dissonances and erotic regret; the Second (1957) masks nerve-racking syncopations beneath its surface brilliance...[the sonata] a compelling performance in which logic and rhetoric combine...
Mozart: Violin Sonatas Vol 1 cover
add to cart $30.00 In Stock
W. A. MOZART
Mozart: Violin Sonatas Vol 1
Alina Ibragimova (violin), Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
[ Hyperion / 2 CD - released 1/Apr/2016 ]
"It is difficult to imagine [these sonatas] better played" (Five Stars BBC Music)
Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 cover
add to cart $30.00 In Stock
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH
Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2
Alina Ibragimova (violin), State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia 'Evgeny Svetlanov', Vladimir Jurowski (conductor)
[ Hyperion / CD - released 5/Jun/2020 ]
GRAMOPHONE Award WINNER 2021 - Concerto BBC Music Award Nomination 2021 - Concerto
String Quartets: Brahms Nos.1-3; Dvořák No.12 'American'; Haydn Op.76/3 'Emperor' cover
add to cart $30.00 Out of Stock
2-4 weeks
JOHANNES BRAHMS / ANTONIN DVORAK / JOSEPH HAYDN
String Quartets: Brahms Nos.1-3; Dvořák No.12 'American'; Haydn Op.76/3 'Emperor'
Amadeus Quartet
[ Alto / CD - released 17/Feb/2023 ]
"I'm struck afresh by the power, precision and sheer puissance of their music-making … The Brahms quartet recordings remain 'outstanding'; affectionate but free of affection, considered yet vitally spontaneous" [Dvořák]: "strongly conceived, full of...
Bach: Partitas BWV825-BWV830 cover
add to cart $60.00 Low Stock
J. S. BACH
Bach: Partitas BWV825-BWV830
Andras Schiff (piano)
[ ECM Records / 2 CD - released 1/Apr/2009 ]
MARBECKS STAFF PICK: CD OF THE YEAR 2009 MUSICWEB UK RECORDING OF THE MONTH "Schiff's…unashamedly and masterfully pianistic, contrasting sustained tone and light staccato teasing out fragmentary motifs." BBC Music
Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2 cover
add to cart $80.00 Out of Stock
2-4 weeks
J. S. BACH
Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2
Andras Schiff (piano)
[ ECM New Series / 4 CD Box Set - released 20/Sep/2012 ]
GRAMOPHONE AWARD FINALIST 2013: Instrumental
Goldberg Variations cover
add to cart $40.00 Low Stock
J.S. BACH
Goldberg Variations
Andras Schiff (piano)
[ ECM Records / CD - released 5/Oct/2003 ]
""Great" is not a word to be used casually when it comes to CDs, but no other term does justice. Lucidity, elegance and strength are all here and exquisitely balanced. The definitive Goldberg? As far as I'm concerned, yes." Ann Picard, Independent...
Verdi: Aida (complete opera recorded in 2015) cover
add to cart $35.00 In Stock
MARBECKS COLLECTABLE: Bach (C.P.E.): Cello Concertos, Symphonies cover
add to cart $25.00 Low Stock
C.P.E. BACH
MARBECKS COLLECTABLE: Bach (C.P.E.): Cello Concertos, Symphonies
Anner Bylsma (cello) / Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Gustav Leonhardt
[ Erato Veritas / 2 CD - released 5/Jul/2000 ]
[Cello Concertos Wq.170-2] 'It is difficult to imagine a better partnership to provide authentic versions of these three fine works.' Penguin Guide
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto / Bruch: Violin Concerto No 1 cover
add to cart $28.00 Out of Stock
FELIX MENDELSSOHN / MAX BRUCH
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto / Bruch: Violin Concerto No 1
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) / Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan
[ Deutsche Grammophon The Originals / CD - released 1/Apr/2002 ]
"Anne-Sophie Mutter's approach communicates vividly to the listener, creating the feeling of hearing the work anew" Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622 / Oboe Concerto In C major, K314 cover
add to cart $36.00 Out of Stock
W. A. MOZART
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622 / Oboe Concerto In C major, K314
Anthony Pay (clarinet) Michel Piguet (oboe) / The Academy of Ancient Music / Christopher Hogwood
[ Decca / CD - released 9/Mar/2007 ]
"Anthony Pay's basset clarinet adds wonderfully oily low notes and his playing has all the range, clarity and vigour needed to bring this well-known work to new life." (KC)
Solo Piano Works: Sonata In E Major D157 / Sonata In G Major D894 / etc cover
add to cart $20.00 Out of Stock
FRANZ SCHUBERT
Solo Piano Works: Sonata In E Major D157 / Sonata In G Major D894 / etc
Arcadi Volodos (piano)
[ Sony Classics / CD - released 18/Mar/2002 ]
1001 Classical recordings to hear before you die (1801-1850) - Gramophone Magazine - Recording of the month (June 2002)
In C cover
add to cart $37.00 Out of Stock
2-4 weeks
TERRY RILEY
In C
Ars Nova Copenhagen / Percurama Percussion Ensemble / Paul Hillier
[ DaCapo / CD - released 1/Mar/2007 ]
Terry Riley's 1964 masterpiece "In C" is probably the first masterpiece of US minimalism. From Paul Hillier of Hilliard Ensemble reknown comes a new version of this semi-improvised piece performed by mallet percussion and voices.
Violin Sonatas and Partitas cover
add to cart $27.00 Out of Stock
J.S. BACH
Violin Sonatas and Partitas
Arthur Grumiaux (violin) Egida Giordani Sartori (harpsichord)
[ Philips Originals / 2 CD - released 15/Apr/2006 ]
1001 Recordings to hear before you die - "Grumiaux comes closer than any other violinist I have heard to an ideal performance ..There is a kind of honesty to Bach's intentions here...that I find deeply impressive and often very exciting." Gramophone
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 4 (with Ravel - Piano Concerto in G) cover
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SERGEI RACHMANINOV
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 4 (with Ravel - Piano Concerto in G)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano) / Philharmonia Orchestra, Ettore Gracis
[ Warner Classics Original Jacket Reissues / CD - released 20/Apr/2015 ]
1001 Classical recordings you must hear before you die (1901-1950) 50 GREATEST RECORDINGS OF ALL TIME (No 18) - BBC MUSIC
Bach: Overtures (Four Orchestral Suites) cover
add to cart $35.00 Out of Stock
2-4 weeks
J. S. BACH
Bach: Overtures (Four Orchestral Suites)
Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki
[ BIS SACD / 2 Hybrid SACD - released 1/Aug/2005 ]
"These performances are magnificent, and offering two SACDs for the price of one makes them a good deal too. Suzuki does more than just play the music very well: he evokes its purpose, social milieu, and lavishness of content in such a way that...
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World / Symphonic Variations Op. 78 cover
add to cart $25.00 Low Stock
ANTONIN DVORAK
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World / Symphonic Variations Op. 78
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop
[ Naxos / CD - released 1/Jul/2008 ]
"The Largo is given one of the most perfectly shaped and unaffectedly styraightforward performances I have heard, led by a magnificently vocal cor anglais solo." Disc of the Month (BBC Music Magazine July 2008)