Classical - Basic Library recommendations (big list)
Nov 10, 2006 at 12:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 80


Headphoneus Supremus
Apr 17, 2003
Here is a list I put together of some of the great sets of classical music out there (pretty much all "bargain" priced), I thought I'd gather it in to it's own post so that it might act as a "reference" of sorts. Please feel free to add more rec's, as the list is hardly comprehensive.

I focused on inexpensive sets as they tend to offer great value, and they are a great way to get a lot of music for very little money.

Baroque (Pre-Classical)
This is music that uses a lot of counterpoint:

Bach Solo Cello Suites - Kirshbaum playing

Bach - Brandenbug Concerto's and Violin Concerto's conducted by Rees

Bach - Solo Violin - Rachel Podger playing

Bach - Goldberg Variations - performed by Hewitt

Bach - Well Tempered Clavier - performed by Hewitt

Vivaldi 4 seasons & other Concerto's conducted br Warrren-Green

Vivaldi - La Stravaganza - Conducted and performed by Rachel Podger

This is music that is almost always easy on the ear, with great melody assuming a dominant role, as opposed to the dominance of counterpoint in the pre-classical era.

Haydn - Late Symphonies - Conducted by Harnoncourt

Haydn - Paris Symphonies - Conducted by Harnoncourt

Mozart Complete Piano Concerto's - performed by Immerseel

Mozart Symphonies - conducted by Mackerras with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Mozart Wind Concerto's - performed by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Beethoven is his own category because he truly straddles the classical and romantic eras in almost equal measure. Some say he was the first Romantic, others say he was the last of the Classicists.

Beethoven Piano Concertos- performed by Pollini

Beethoven Symphonies- conducted by Gardiner

Beethoven Complete Quartets - performed by the Emerson Quartet

Beethoven - Violin Sonatas - performed by Ashkenazy and Perlman

Beethoven - Late Piano Sonatas - Performed by Goode

Beethoven - Appassionata and Waldstein Sonatas - Performed by Goode

The romantic era still holds melody as supreme, but is much more personal, more emotive, and really expands and/or breaks the classical “rules”.

Brahms - Symphonies - Performed by Dorati

Brahms Complete Trio's - performed by Capucons & Angelich Trio

Brahms Piano Conceros - Performed by Pollini

Brahms - Violin Concerto - Performed by Hilary Hahn

Brahms - Piano Quartets - performed by Vogt, Fischer, Rivinius, and Masurenko

Bruckner Complete Symphonies - Conducted by Jochum

Chopin solo piano - Performed by Pollini

Dvorak - Symphonies 7, 8, 9 - Conducted by Dohnanyi

Dvorak & Elgar - Cello Concertos - performed by Fournier

Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsodies and other piano works - performed by Cziffra

Liszt - Years of Pilgrimage - Performed by Lazar Berman

Mahler - 9 Symphonies - conducted by Bertini

Rachmaninov - Symphonies and Orchestral music - conducted by Ashkenazy

Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - performed by Andsnes

Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto 3 and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1 - Performed by Argerich

Saint Saens - Piano Concertos - Performed by Hough

Schubert - Symphonies - performed by Wand

Schubert - Piano and String Trios - performed by Beaux Arts Trio

Schubert - Impromptus - performed by Brendel

Schubert - last 4 String Quartets - performed by the Quartetto Italiano

Schubert - Piano Sonatas - performed by Andsnes

Schumann Symphonies - conducted by Barenboim

Scriabin - Piano Sonatas - performed by Hamelin

Sibelius Complete Symphonies conducted by Blomstedt

Sibelius Violin Concerto - played by Kyung Wha Chung

Richard Straus - Complete Orchestral music - conducted by Kempe

Tchaikovsky 4 through 6 Symphonies - Mravinsky conducting

Wagner - "The Ring" - conducted by Solti

From a construction standpoint, this music is late-Romantic, but the use of harmony is unique, so they get their own category as well. For this list the impressionists are restricted to Debussy and Ravel:

Debussy Orchestral Music - conducted by Dutiot

Ravel Orchestral Works - Conducted by Boulez

Debussy - Preludes for Piano, Book I and II - performed by Jacobs

Post Romantic
This music is harmonically and formally more aggressive and more free than the Romantic period. Things start to get quite a bit more dissonant in this period.

Bartok - 3 Piano Concertos - Performed by Schiff

Bartok - Concerto for Orchestra - Reiner Conducting (SACD Hybrid)

Bartok Violin Concerto 2 and Stravinsky Violin Concerto - Mullova playing, Salonen conducting

Bartok String Quartets - played by the Emerson Quartet

Prokofiev Piano Concertos - Performed by Beroff

Prokofiev Violin Concertos - performed by Lin

Shostakovich String Quartets - performed by Emerson Quartet

Shostakovich Symphonies - conducted by Barshai

Shostakovich - Cello Concertos - performed by Rodin

Shostakovich - Violin Concertos - performed by Vengerov, conducted by Rostropovich

Stravinsky - Rite of Spring & other Orchestral - conducted by Tilson Thomas

Vaughan Williams - Symphonies - conducted by Haitink

Walton - Symphonies and Concertos - conducted by Previn

This music is characterized by almost complete freedom from form, often very dissonant, sometimes minimalist, sometimes uses 12 tone scales, melody is often absent with rhythm and harmonic explorations taking center stage.

John Adams – Earbox

John Cage – Music for Prepared Piano

Kronos Quartet – 10 CD set of modern quartets

Ligeti Edition I – String Quartets and Duets

Ligeti Edition III – Piano Music

Schnittke - String Quartets - performed by the Kronos Quartet
Nov 10, 2006 at 12:46 AM Post #2 of 80

Great list.
Nov 10, 2006 at 12:53 AM Post #3 of 80

Originally Posted by Purgatos

Great list.

Clearly this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it's a very good list to dip into as interest and funds allow.
Nov 10, 2006 at 3:42 AM Post #5 of 80
I do, but I think HH is a better "beginner" rec than Bell. Her swifter playing and leaner approach is more likely to appeal to a non-connoisseur.
Nov 10, 2006 at 5:20 AM Post #6 of 80
Fabulous list. Thanks!
Nov 10, 2006 at 4:51 PM Post #7 of 80
Here are more lists with classical music recommendations.

Classical (made by by)

Opera (also me)

one by

(huge list broken down by period)

(lists recommended recordings from major publications)

(100 Definitive Recordings by Norman Lebrecht)

(Greatest Classical Works -- lots of lists -- classical, opera, concertos, symphonies)

(The 100 Greatest Recordings by GRAMOPHONE)

(100 beautiful operas -- more critics choices)
Nov 10, 2006 at 6:41 PM Post #8 of 80
Are there any other Brandenburgs that you would recommend? I was looking to get a set of Brandenburgs, and was going to get Britten since I didn't really like the tempo of many of the HIP ones like Pinnock. But I like what I'm hearing with Rees despite how no one seems to recommend it (no one bashes it either, though, so I guess it's just unknown).
Nov 10, 2006 at 7:14 PM Post #9 of 80
I recommend the Rees

Britten is a very fine version, worth having. Modern instruments and somewhat slower tempi, but still with a lot of color and transparency.
Nov 10, 2006 at 9:03 PM Post #10 of 80

Originally Posted by Tyson
I do, but I think HH is a better "beginner" rec than Bell. Her swifter playing and leaner approach is more likely to appeal to a non-connoisseur.

what do oyu think of milstein or heifetz' s recording?
Nov 11, 2006 at 1:16 AM Post #11 of 80
I used to really dislike Heifetz, but over time I learned to respect him, and eventually grew to really enjoy his performances, and the Brahms is no exception. Milstein I've come to know only in the past year or so, and I love it, really amazing intensity and passion.
Nov 12, 2006 at 7:42 AM Post #12 of 80
I see lots of good stuff there, and many more that I need to check out. Seems like a really promising list.
Nov 13, 2006 at 8:24 AM Post #13 of 80
Tyson, great work with that list - you've inadvertently spurred me on to finish my 6SN7GT ID guide. Pity thought that I've already got >80% of the recordings you listed.

Something caught my eye though - by 'Pre-Classical', are you actually referring to the 'Baroque' period?
Dec 12, 2006 at 12:51 PM Post #15 of 80

Originally Posted by Oistrakh /img/forum/go_quote.gif
interestin you didn't recommend gould for the goldberg variations...

Not really. Even if you like what Gould does with Bach's music, he's a terrible recommendation for a first recording of any given piece.


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