Albums of the year: Classical

'Mitsuko Uchida combined textural clarity with emotional intelligence'
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The Independent Culture

Of the major orchestral releases, Mariss Jansons' live recordings of Mahler with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Tchaikovsky with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra were thrillingly refined, while Riccardo Chailly's Mahler arrangements of Schumann's Symphonies with the Gewandhaus Orchestra were opulent and precise. In early music, three of my four top discs were of Handel: Emmanuelle Ham's Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, the Academy of Ancient Music's Concerti Grossi Opus 3, and Mark Padmore's As Steals the Morn. Philippe Herreweghe's definitive reading of Heinrich Schtz's Schwanengesang with Collegium Vocale Gent was the fourth.

Young violinists Alina Ibragimova and Viviane Hagner both produced searing readings of Hartmann's unaccompanied Sonata No 1, while Stephen Isserlis released an enthralling performance of Bach's Cello Suites. The Schubert Ensemble's survey of music by Martin Butler, American Rounds, revealed a darker side to this sunny composer in Sequenza Notturna, while the Nash Ensemble's reading of Brahms's String Sextets left me reeling. John Lill's Haydn Sonatas and Mitsuko Uchida's Hammerklavier combined textural clarity with emotional intelligence. Still, the human voice made the deepest impression: in Christine Schäfer's dreamy exploration of Crumb and Purcell, Apparition, and Anne Sofie von Otter's Theresienstadt, a tribute to the composers and performers murdered in the Holocaust.