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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Debussy: 12 Etudes cover
add to cart $25.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
CLAUDE DEBUSSY
Debussy: 12 Etudes
Mitsuko Uchida (piano)
[ Philips Originals / CD - released 15/Apr/2006 ]
1001 Classical recordings you must hear before you die (1901-1950) - "Mitsuko Uchida's remarkable account of the Etudes is not only one of the best Debussy piano records in the catalogue, but also one of the best ever recordings of the instrument."
Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture, Capriccio Italien (with Beethoven-Wellington's Victory) cover
add to cart $25.00 Low Stock
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOSVKY
Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture, Capriccio Italien (with Beethoven-Wellington's Victory)
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra / London Symphony Orchestra / Antal Dorati
[ Mercury Originals / CD - released 14/Jun/2007 ]
"This most famous of all Mercury records was one of the most successful classical LPs of all time, selling some two million copies in the analogue era. Remastered for CD, it sounds even more spectacular than it ever did in its vinyl format, vividly...
Brahms: 3 Violin Sonatas cover
add to cart $22.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
JOHANNES BRAHMS
Brahms: 3 Violin Sonatas
Krysia Osostowicz (violin) Susan Tomes (piano)
[ Hyperion Helios / CD - released 26/May/2008 ]
'Subtle enough to suggest that for both artists these performances were a revelatory voyage of discovery' (Gramophone)
4 Horn Concertos / Piano and Wind Quintet (rec 1953, 1955) cover
add to cart $20.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
W. A. MOZART
4 Horn Concertos / Piano and Wind Quintet (rec 1953, 1955)
Dennis Brain (horn) / Walter Gieseking (piano) / Philharmonia Wind Ensemble / Philharmonia Orchestra / Herbert von Karajan
[ Naxos Historical / CD - released 6/Feb/2007 ]
"This disc is pure joy. At the price, it is almost a crime not to snap it up." Bargain of the Month MusicWeb May 2007
Scherzi, Preludes & Piano Sonata No. 2 cover
add to cart $24.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
CHOPIN
Scherzi, Preludes & Piano Sonata No. 2
Ivo Pogorelich (piano)
[ Deutsche Grammophon Duo / 2 CD - released 15/Mar/2012 ]
"Second to none in sheer keyboard brilliance … everything he does is always done with princely authority." (Gramophone)
A Feather on the Breath of God cover
add to cart $30.00 In Stock
HILDEGARD von BINGEN
A Feather on the Breath of God
Emma Kirkby (soprano) / Gothic Voices
[ Hyperion / CD - released 1/Sep/2010 ]
"These hymns and sequences, most expertly performed and recorded, have excited much acclaim - and rightly so. A lovely CD" Penguin Guide
Alio Modo (keyboard works transcribed for viols) cover
add to cart $32.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
J.S. BACH
Alio Modo (keyboard works transcribed for viols)
Fretwork
[ Harmonia Mundi / CD - released 25/Dec/2005 ]
British viol consort Fretwork revel in the contrapuntal intricacies of J.S. Bach's works for organ and harpsichord transcribed for a consort of viols.
Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn BWV1127 cover
add to cart $35.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
J.S. BACH
Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn BWV1127
Elin Manahan Thomas / English Baroque Soloists / John Eliot Gardiner
[ Soli Deo Gloria / CD - released 10/Oct/2005 ]
Premiere recording of a newly discovered aria by Bach, unearthed in a library in June 2005
Strauss, (R.): Also Sprach Zarathustra / Tod und Verklarung [Death & Transfiguration] cover
add to cart $21.00 Low Stock
RICHARD STRAUSS
Strauss, (R.): Also Sprach Zarathustra / Tod und Verklarung [Death & Transfiguration]
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Andre Previn
[ Telarc Classics / CD - released 16/Apr/2002 ]
"Previn draws magnificent playing fromthe Vienna Philharmonic in powerful, red-blooded readings of the symphonic poems, and the recording is among Telarc's finest. Strongly recommended for anyone wanting this particular coupling, and enjoying...
Amor Sacro-Vivaldi Sacred Motets cover
add to cart $27.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
VIVALDI
Amor Sacro-Vivaldi Sacred Motets
Simone Kermes (soprano) / Venice Baroque Orchestra / Andrea Marcon
[ Archiv / CD - released 20/Feb/2007 ]
"If any doubts still linger among readers concerning Vivaldi's originality in the setting of sacred texts, then this recital should dispel them once and for all. Simone Kermes is an agile singer with a wide vocal range who is comfortably able to...
Bach: Christmas Oratorio cover
add to cart $42.00 Low Stock
J. S. BACH
Bach: Christmas Oratorio
Mary Bevan (sop) Joanne Lunn (sop) Clare Wilkinson (mezzo) Nicholas Mulro (ten), etc / Dunedin Consort and Players, John Butt
[ Linn / 2 CD - released 14/Oct/2016 ]
"Way-too-early seasonal content (sorry), but this latest release from the Dunedin Consort is too good to wait. It's surely one of the finest accounts now available of Bach's Christmas Oratorio." Guardian Five Stars
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
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)
Early Cantatas, Opferlied & Meeresstille cover
add to cart $25.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
BEETHOVEN
Early Cantatas, Opferlied & Meeresstille
Judith Howarth, Janice Watson, Jean Rigby, John Mark Ainsley, Jose Van Dam / Corydon Singers & Orchestra, Matthew Best
[ Hyperion Helios / CD - released 28/Aug/2014 ]
'Arguably Beethoven's first major masterpiece … superb performance, at once fresh and incisive and deeply moving' - PENGUIN GUIDE ROSETTE
Beethoven: Fidelio (compete opera recorded in 1962) cover
add to cart $28.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
LUDWIG van BEETHOVEN
Beethoven: Fidelio (compete opera recorded in 1962)
Gottlob Frick, Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry, Ingeborg Hallstein / Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, Otto Klemperer
[ Warner Classics the Home of Opera / 2 CD - released 1/Feb/2016 ]
"Christa Ludwig, a mezzo rather than true soprano, brings dark colours to the role of Leonore, while tenor Jon Vickers is a superb Florestan." BBC Music Magazine, January 2012
Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas (rec 1964-65) [CD set plus Blu-ray audio] cover
add to cart $95.00 Low Stock
LUDWIG van BEETHOVEN
Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas (rec 1964-65) [CD set plus Blu-ray audio]
Wilhelm Kempff (piano)
[ Deutsche Grammophon CD + Blu-ray audio / 9 CD Box Set - released 10/Sep/2019 ]
"These are all great perfornmances, and the remastered recordings have all been enhanced to an extraordinary degree to give an uncannily realistic piano-image, helped by the immediacy of Kempff's communication." Rosette Recording Penguin Stereo Guide
Dido and Aeneas / Indian Queen (complete operas) cover
add to cart $45.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
PURCELL
Dido and Aeneas / Indian Queen (complete operas)
Catherine Bott, Emma Kirkby, John Mark Ainsley, David Thomas / Chorus and Orchestra of The Academy of Ancient Music / Christopher Hogwood
[ Decca Operas / 2 CD - released 22/Apr/2012 ]
1001 Classical recordings you must hear before you die (pre 1700) - "Key to the whole opera is the casting of Dido herself - and no singer surpasses Catherine Bott's poignant acceptance of death in the famous 'Lament'" (GP 1001 Classical recordings)
Best Of Maxim Vengerov cover
add to cart $95.00 In Stock
BEETHOVEN / BRAHMS / BRUCH / PAGANINI / TCHAIKOVSKY / SIBELIUS / etc
Best Of Maxim Vengerov
Maxim Vengerov (violin) / Various orchestras & conductors
[ Warner Classics / 11 CD Box Set - released 20/Nov/2006 ]
"his technique is highly impressive, and he produces a beautiful tone even in the violin's lower regions." (BBC Music)
Ravel: Bolero / La Valse / Rapsodie Espagnole / Ma Mere l'Oye / Daphnis et Chloe cover
add to cart $35.00 In Stock
MAURICE RAVEL
Ravel: Bolero / La Valse / Rapsodie Espagnole / Ma Mere l'Oye / Daphnis et Chloe
Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit
[ Double Decca / 2 CD - released 12/Jul/2000 ]
"Anyone beginning a Ravel collection, or coming fresh to most of this repertoire and willing to duplicate, will find this Double Decca unbeatable value" A Rosette recording - Penguin Stereo Guide
Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces cover
add to cart $30.00 Out of Stock
2-6 weeks
JOHANNES BRAHMS
Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces
Stephen Hough (piano)
[ Hyperion / CD - released 31/Jan/2020 ]
"'One of the finest accounts of Brahms's late piano works on record, one that stands head and shoulders above most contenders in an ever-growing catalogue." Gramophone Awards 2020 Short List - Instrumental