Some Favorite Recordings of 2015

As you may know, I don't do "best-of" lists. "Best" suggests that I've sampled most everything available, and even though I review a lot of music every year, I have not heard but a fraction of what's out there. So I prefer to do a simple "favorites" list. Here are just a few of the discs (listed alphabetically, to be fair) I heard last year that I enjoyed for their performance and sound. I know I've forgotten a few; forgive me. This baker's dozen stood out, some of them new releases, some of them remasters of old favorites, and one a ringer.

A Beethoven Odyssey, Volume 4
Piano Sonatas Nos. 9, 15, 24, 25, and 27. James Brawn, piano. MSR Classics.
To read the full review, click here:

A Billie Holiday Songbook
Lara Downes, solo piano. Steinway & Sons
To read the full review, click here:

Bizet: Carmen, complete
Marilyn Horne, James McCracken, Tom Krause, Adriana Maliponte; Manhattan Chorus; Leonard Bernstein, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Children's Chorus. Pentatone.
To read the full review, click here:

Debussy: La Mer
Also, Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe, Suite No. 2; Berlioz: Ballet des Sylphes. Leopold Stokowski, London Symphony Orchestra. HDTT.
To read the full review, click here:

Decca: Supreme Stereophonic Legacy
Various composers and artists. FIM.
To read the full review, click here:

Haydn: Seven Last Words
Attacca Quartet. Azica Records.
To read the full review, click here:

James Brawn in Recital, Volume 2
"The Time Traveller and His Muse." James Brawn, piano. MSR Classics.
To read the full review, click here:

Lerner & Loewe: My Fair Lady
Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Alfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel. CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Pictures (restored).
To read the full review, click here:

Mozart: Horn Concertos
Also, Horn Quintet. Pip Eastop, natural horn; Anthony Halstead, The Hanover Band. Hyperion.
To read the full review, click here:

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 23
Daniel Barenboim, soloist and conductor; English Chamber Orchestra. Hi-Q Records
To read the full review, click here:

Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos
Also, Sinfonia Concertante. Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Avie.
To read the full review, click here:

Rossini: Overtures
Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra. HDTT.
To read the full review, click here:

Vivaldi: The Complete Viola d'Amore Concertos
Rachel Barton Pine, viola d'amore; Ars Antigua. Cedille.
To read the full review, click here:


1 comment:

  1. always great to see your column in my email keep on trucking!


John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa