Classical Music for Aficionados

I would like to start a thread, similar to Orpheus’ jazz site, for lovers of classical music.
I will list some of my favorite recordings, CDs as well as LP’s. While good sound is not a prime requisite, it will be a consideration.
  Classical music lovers please feel free to add to my lists.
Discussion of musical and recording issues will be welcome.

I’ll start with a list of CDs.  Records to follow in a later post.

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique.  Chesky  — Royal Phil. Orch.  Freccia, conductor.
Mahler:  Des Knaben Wunderhorn.  Vanguard Classics — Vienna Festival Orch. Prohaska, conductor.
Prokofiev:  Scythian Suite et. al.  DG  — Chicago Symphony  Abbado, conductor.
Brahms: Symphony #1.  Chesky — London Symph. Orch.  Horenstein, conductor.
Stravinsky: L’Histoire du Soldat. HDTT — Ars Nova.  Mandell, conductor.
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances. Analogue Productions. — Dallas Symph Orch. Johanos, cond.
Respighi: Roman Festivals et. al. Chesky — Royal Phil. Orch. Freccia, conductor.

All of the above happen to be great sounding recordings, but, as I said, sonics is not a prerequisite.

You are so right to remind us that music did not begin with Bach. Great recommendations. As for the Elizabethan school, may I suggest the Clerkes of Oxenford for Tallis, and Byrd on glorious vinyl by L'Oiseau-Lyre.

Going back even further, there is a fabulous French Decca set of gatefold Gregorian Chant, in about 50 volumes, of which I have only half, as well as my personal favourite, Salve Feste Dies on Phillips.
ANY of Mozart’s Piano Concertos (with the possible exception of the first three numbered concertos which he didn’t actually compose but arranged.) Brendel or Perahia are as good as any pianists in these.

Rachmaninoff: “The Bells” (his favorite composition and mine) for soloists, chorus and orchestra.  Not well known, but a masterpiece by this supreme genius whose time has finally come after many years of snobbish derision.
Rattle is excellent in this.

Brahms: Serenades, in D and A Major. Great symphonic compositions from the youthful Brahms.  Kertesz on London/Decca is an oldie but goodie.

Glazunov: Violin Concerto.  An unjustly neglected work. Beautiful from beginning to end. Oistrakh or Heifetz are supreme

All my life I've tried to have the aha classical moment. Has never happened, with one exception: Gorecki #3. I own four versions. I find it profound. I own ten records by others, I try each annually to see if I'll warm up to them. One other contender maybe: Saint-Saens #3.

Anyhoo - I'll keep eye on this thread for ideas.
  To scott_w. You said you liked Gorecki #3. It is a musically unique and very profound work whose subject is death and torture.  In terms of subject matter you might try a group of songs by Mahler: Kindertotenlieder, songs on the death of children. It is very haunting and profoundly sad. I like the version by Janet Baker, Leonard Bernstein, and the Israel Philharmonic.

It was interesting to me that your other favorite was Saint Saens #3. Your might call this absolute music without a theme. It is a sonic spectacular show piece, but not profound in the way the Goredki is.
rvpiano, Re the Bells, don’t forget All-Night Vigil. My favorite Rachmaninoff choral. I like Paul Hiller and the Estonian Phil Chamber Choir.

Folks have been mentioning the standard VC’s by the Greats. Some what off the beaten path, yet both enjoyable and memorable, and pretty well done as a group, by Julia Fisher on Pentatone, are the VC’s of Khachaturian, Prokofiev, and Glazunov. I especially like her Khachaturian.

For something in the VC group rarely ever mentioned in these forums, regrettably I think, but then who wants to hear a ’Hollywood’ composer - Miklos Rozsa’s VC on Koch . If anyone likes Rozsa, Chandos has three CD’s which in addition to a lot of Hungarian music is a Cello Concerto I like a great deal.

Now if you like the possibility of some good stuff coming out of Hollywood I can’t resist recommending some of the music of Nino Rota. As an introduction I would recommend Riccardo Muti’s CD on Sony "LaStrada". It contains "Il Gattopardo" which has the potential to become an earworm, an incredible peice.

Next, a recommendation for Malcolm Arnold Dances and Overtures on both Reference and Chandos. The Reference is great ’audio’ as well.

Lastly, speaking of Ballet - how about the Carmen Ballet for strings and perecussions. No Brass! No kidding, great stuff. Put together by a Russian by the name of Shchedrin. I like the LP by Gerard Schwartz, but the same on his CD is pretty good too. Both are quite spacious.

Excellent thread idea, RVPiano.
Thought about this a while as I have been collecting since the 70s and have too many favorites to list.
So here are three "fives" that are extraordinary for both their performances and recording quality (for their day, of course):
1. Karajan’s 1963 recording of the Beethoven 5th for DG and recently issued in HD digital formats. The third and fourth movements (played without pause) are a test for the bass and dynamics of any audiophile system. The orchestral playing defines the nature of "kick-@@@" performance.
2. Chailly’s 2013 recording of Mahler’s 5th with the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Sometimes cited by engineers as the best orchestral recording ever made (from a technical standpoint) its extreme transparency mirrors Chailly’s performance style of adherence to the composer’s score. And speaking of scores, the Blue-ray visual is so accurate you can read the scores of the performers in front of them...
3. Davis’s 2014 of Nielsen’s 5th with the London Symphony Orchestra. This hybrid issue has multiple recording formats presented and I find the 96/24 FLAC the best for my stereo system and the DTS-HD MA 192/24 best for a 5.1 system. If you enjoy locating instruments as they sit in an orchestral soundstage, this should be one of your friends.
Might also be interesting to consider the reverse: the best recording ruined by terrible fidelity...
...and I suggest one candidate would be the Furtwangler Brahms Symphonic recordings ranging from 1947-51 and released by Major Classics. The first disc (and symphony) is fine and shows how well radio broadcasts can be presented in modern digital form. It also shows the personable and innovative style of Furtwangler, which is very enjoyable and hints at why he was such an influence on Karajan and others.
Then the rest of the discs (and symphonies) are laughably bad as regards fidelity. But the performances are just as good. So there is this huge tension between trying to like the performance while being disgusted with the sound. Worth trying once for the laughs...