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 245

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String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 cover
add to cart $20.00 Out of Stock
2-6 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 In Stock
ERIK SATIE
Satie: Gymnopedies and other piano works
Aldo Ciccolini (piano)
[ Warner Classics Original Jacket Reissues / 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...
Shostakovich: The preludes and fugues cover
add to cart $42.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH
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 $32.00 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...
Albeniz: Iberia, Navarra / Granados: Goyescas cover
add to cart $42.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
ALBENIZ / GRANADOS
Albeniz: Iberia, Navarra / Granados: Goyescas
Alicia de Larrocha (piano)
[ Double Decca / 2 CD - released 11/Sep/2001 ]
1001 Classical recordings you must hear before you die (1901-1950) - "Alicia de larrocha plays with full-blooded temperament and fire. The recording is excellent and the Decca reissue makes a formidable bargain" ROSETTE - Penguin Stereo Guide
Mozart: Violin Sonatas Vol 1 cover
add to cart $30.00 Low 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
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
2-6 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
Handel: Messiah (Complete oratorio) cover
add to cart $32.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
GEORG FRIDERIC HANDEL
Handel: Messiah (Complete oratorio)
Andreas Scholl, Barbara Schlick, Sandrine Piau, Mark Padmore, Nathan Berg / Les Arts Florissants / William Christie
[ Harmonia Mundi / 2 CD - released 1/Jun/2013 ]
"...an exhilarating account of the score under the American-in-Paris, Christie, who makes you hear the work afresh..." - The Illustrated London News
Biber: Sonates du Rosaire [Rosary Sonatas] cover
add to cart $32.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
HEINRICH IGNAZ FRANZ von BIBER
Biber: Sonates du Rosaire [Rosary Sonatas]
Andrew Manze (violin), Richard Egarr (organ)
[ Harmonia Mundi Gold / 2 CD - released 17/Jun/2016 ]
1001 Classical recordings you must hear before you die (pre 1700) - "Andrew Manze offers stylish and unfussy readings that mix reverence and whimsy in equal parts." New York Times: The Best Classical CD's of 2004
Goldberg Variations cover
add to cart $40.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
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...
Bach (C.P.E.): Cello Concertos, Symphonies cover
add to cart $25.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
C.P.E. BACH
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 $26.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
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
2-6 weeks
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
2-6 weeks
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
2-6 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
2-6 weeks
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
add to cart $15.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
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
Pictures at an Exhibition (orch Ravel) / Night on Bald Mountain / Introduction to Khovanshchina cover
add to cart $21.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
MUSSORGSKY
Pictures at an Exhibition (orch Ravel) / Night on Bald Mountain / Introduction to Khovanshchina
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra / Yoel Levi
[ Telarc Classics / CD - released 3/Nov/2004 ]
In this blockbuster all-Moussorgsky release, Levi and Atlanta prove "…a performance where throughout the conductor makes the most of the colour, and brilliant orchestral effects of Ravel's inspired score, revealing much that often gets unheard…the...