Anna Picard: The best Classical albums of 2008

‘The Belcea Quartet’s complete Bartok was a compelling document of despair’

Sunday 28 December 2008 01:00 GMT

Brilliantly coloured and highly disciplined, Mariss Jansons's 'Rite of Spring' with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has an energy beyond any studio recording.

Sir Charles Mackerras's live recording of Schubert 9 with the Philharmonia proved a remarkable antidepressant as the days grew colder, but if I had to choose just one orchestral disc from 2008, it would be Leif Segerstam's resinous 'Kullervo' with the Helsinki Philharmonic.

Among the concerto releases, Christian Tetzlaff's Brahms/Joachim pairing was fascinating, while Hilary Hahn's performance of the Schoenberg and Sibelius Violin Concertos with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra was faultlessly shaped. Quatuor Ebène's delicate Debussy, Fauré and Ravel were enchanting, and the Belcea Quartet's complete Bartok a compelling document of despair.

Carole Cerasi's elegant 'English Suites' and Murray Perahia's effortless 'Partitas' were significant additions to the library, while Trinity Baroque's 'Bach Motets' were the finest in over 20 years. Two vocal recitals were outstanding for the attention lavished on text and nuance: Bernarda Fink and Gerold Huber's Schubert 'Lieder' and Mark Padmore's dreamlike programme of Britten and Dowland with lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and guitarist Craig Ogden.

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