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 40 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
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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
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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...
Bach: Overtures (Four Orchestral Suites) cover
add to cart $35.00 Out of Stock
2-6 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 $20.00 In 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)
Mozart: Requiem KV 626 cover
add to cart $38.00 Low Stock
W. A. MOZART
Mozart: Requiem KV 626
Barbara Bonney, Anne Sofie Von Otter, Willard White / Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque / Sir John Eliot Gardiner
[ Philips / CD - released 12/Dec/2005 ]
"John Elliot Gardiner with characteristic panache gives one of the most powerful performances on record" *** Three Stars. Penguin Stereo Guide.
Bach Transcriptions (arrangements by great composers) cover
add to cart $30.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
J.S. BACH
Bach Transcriptions (arrangements by great composers)
BBC Philharmonic / Leonard Slatkin
[ Chandos Classics / CD - released 5/Jul/2000 ]
Editor's Choice - Gramophone Magazine (Oct 2000) - Five Stars (*****) Classic CD (Oct 2000)
Holst: The Planets / Egdon Heath cover
add to cart $15.00 Low Stock
GUSTAV HOLST
Holst: The Planets / Egdon Heath
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Andrew Davis
[ Warner Classics Apex / CD - released 1/Apr/2016 ]
1001 Classical recordings you must hear before you die (1901-1950) "An unmissable opportunity to test fresh musical waters....price, presentation and repertory selections, all are bang on target." Gramophone Magazine
Bach: Goldberg Variations cover
add to cart $30.00 In Stock
J. S. BACH
Bach: Goldberg Variations
Beatrice Rana (piano)
[ Warner Classics / CD - released 1/Mar/2017 ]
"Her detailing is one of the aspects that makes this performance so compelling, be it the bringing out of a new line in the repeat, subtle changes in phrasing, a touch of pedal - examples are to be found in every single variation." Gramophone
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos 1 - 9 cover
add to cart $60.00 Low Stock
LUDWIG van BEETHOVEN
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos 1 - 9
Anne Sofie von Otter, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Gilles Cachemaill / The Monteverdi Choir & Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner
[ Deutsche Grammophone Archiv Collectors Edition / 5 CD Box Set - released 1/Jul/2010 ]
1001 Classical recordings to hear before you die (1801-1850) - "John Elliot Gardiner's Beethoven symphony cycle creates perhaps the most satisfying Beethoven style for our time: sleek but powerful, played and recorded with great polish, performed on...
Grieg: Holberg Suite / Two Elegiac Melodies / Two Lyric Pieces / etc cover
add to cart $35.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
EDWARD GRIEG
Grieg: Holberg Suite / Two Elegiac Melodies / Two Lyric Pieces / etc
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Ole Kristian Ruud (conductor)
[ BIS SACD / Hybrid SACD - released 1/Nov/2005 ]
"This is simply the most beautiful record of Grieg's string music in the catalogue, and one of the most beautiful and realistic recordings of strings we have ever heard. Try and hear the disc on SACD equipment with four speakers, and you will be...
Mahler: Symphony No 9 (Recorded 1964) cover
add to cart $16.00 Low Stock
GUSTAV MAHLER
Mahler: Symphony No 9 (Recorded 1964)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli
[ Warner Classics Masters / CD - released 25/Jul/2017 ]
"This new issue simply restores the recording to the catalogue where it belongs and at medium price on a single disc it represents excellent value. If you don't already own this great recording, one of the five or six best of this work ever taped" MW
Rota: The Fellini Album cover
add to cart $30.00 In Stock
NINO ROTA
Rota: The Fellini Album
Filarmonica della Scala, Riccardo Chailly
[ Decca Records / CD - released 2/Aug/2019 ]
Together with the Filarmonica della Scala, Riccardo Chailly explores the iconic film scores of Nino Rota in a new collection, The Fellini Album, on Decca. Released to mark 40 years since Rota's death in April 1979, the album contains music from...
Cosi fan tutte (Complete opera) cover
add to cart $62.99 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
W.A. MOZART
Cosi fan tutte (Complete opera)
Bernarda Fink (soprano) Veronique Gens (soprano) Werner Gura (tenor) Marcel Boone (baritone) / Concerto Koln / Rene Jacobs
[ Harmonia Mundi Mozart Edition / 3 CD - released 1/Oct/2005 ]
"The bite and clarity of the orchestral playing are revelatory...Once again, this greatest of operas amazes and beguiles. We scarcely need another recording...but this is one I would not willingly be without, especially because of the singers'...
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (complete operas) cover
add to cart $125.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
RICHARD WAGNER
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (complete operas)
Birgit Nilsson, Regine Crespin, Kirsten Flagstad, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, George London / Vienna Philharmonic, Sir Georg Solti
[ Decca Records / 17 CD Box Set - released 5/Aug/2015 ]
Decca's landmark recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Sir Georg Solti is the most celebrated classical recording in history.
Bartok: Miraculous Mandarin (The) (Complete Ballet) / Hungarian Pictures / Dance Suite cover
add to cart $28.00 Low Stock
BELA BARTOK
Bartok: Miraculous Mandarin (The) (Complete Ballet) / Hungarian Pictures / Dance Suite
Bournemouth Symphony Chorus / Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop, conductor
[ Naxos SACD / Hybrid SACD - released 17/Apr/2005 ]
"There's really no reason not to acquire this CD" International record review (June 2005)
Mozart: Horn Concertos Nos. 1 - 4 / Quintet for piano & winds cover
add to cart $15.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
W. A. MOZART
Mozart: Horn Concertos Nos. 1 - 4 / Quintet for piano & winds
Dennis Brain (horn) / Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble / Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan
[ Warner Classics Masters / CD - released 13/Feb/2012 ]
'Truly an all-time classic. Timelessly neat and elegant orchestral playing under Karajan accompanies Dennis Brain's flawless and characterful horn playing.' ('The Gramophone' Good CD Guide, 2005)
Bach: Missae Breves (Lutheran Masses) - BWV233, BWV234, BWV235 and BWV236 cover
add to cart $32.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
J. S. BACH
Bach: Missae Breves (Lutheran Masses) - BWV233, BWV234, BWV235 and BWV236
Cantus Colln / Konrad Junghanel
[ Harmonia Mundi Gold / 2 CD - released 1/Mar/2018 ]
"Konrad Junghänel brings finesse and clarity to the music, but there is also plenty of excitement… Cantus Cölln's unity of approach between voices and instruments is outstanding." BBC Music Magazine, October 2008
Cecilia & Bryn: Duets cover
add to cart $35.00 In Stock
MOZART / ROSSINI / DONIZETTI
Cecilia & Bryn: Duets
Cecilia Bartoli (soprano) Bryn Terfel (bass) / Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa
[ Decca Records / CD - released 2/May/2001 ]
The world's leading mezzo-soprano and the world's greatest baritone combine!
Choir of King's College Cambridge - 5 Classic Albums cover
add to cart $40.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
HANDEL / ALLEGRI / RACHMANINOV / VIVALDI / BACH / etc
Choir of King's College Cambridge - 5 Classic Albums
Choir of King's College, Cambridge / Academy of Ancient Music, Stephen Cleobury, with Susan Gritton, Robin Blaze & Jonathan Lemalu
[ Warner Classics 5 Classic Albums / 5 CD Box Set - released 1/May/2014 ]
"King's College Choir sing with great style and virtuosity, and bridge the gap between authenticity and excitement in a way that makes this a fine recommendation for these imaginative works." Gramophone Magazine (Awards Issue 2001 Coronation Anthems
Choral Music (Incl Morning Service Three Latin Motets) cover
add to cart $20.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
STANFORD
Choral Music (Incl Morning Service Three Latin Motets)
Choir of St. John's College / Christopher Robinson (organist)
[ Naxos / CD - released 5/Aug/2003 ]
"Another triumphant recording from the tried-and-tested team of St John's College Choir, Cambridge, their music director Christopher Robinson and Naxos. A disc to stir up memories among those of us whose education took in this unique repertoire and,...
O magnum mysterium cover
add to cart $30.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
VICTORIA
O magnum mysterium
Choir of Westminster Cathedral / David Hill (conductor)
[ Hyperion / CD - released 25/May/2005 ]
GRAMOPHONE CRITICS' CHOICE 'Superb music, and the listener is thrillingly involved when the sound so successfully combines immediacy and body, yet remains admirably coloured by the Westminster resonance' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)
Requiem / Quatre Motets / Messe cum Jubilo / etc cover
add to cart $30.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
DURUFLE
Requiem / Quatre Motets / Messe cum Jubilo / etc
Choir of Westminster Cathedral / James O'Donnell (conductor) with Aaron Webber (treble) and Simon Keenlyside (baritone)
[ Hyperion / CD - released 25/May/2005 ]
'The Westminster Cathedral boys and men carry the lyricism and harmonic luxuriance to an ethereal plane. The choral singing is superb ... helping one to bathe in Duruflé's sumptuous ideas' (The Daily Telegraph)