Best Classical Albums 2013

The challenge of putting this list together, beyond the obvious point that there are countless excellent musicians putting out superb records every year, is how to encompass drastically different sub-genres into a comprehensive list that weights them fairly in terms of qualities or intellect, execution, artistry and aesthetic pleasure? Classical music means everything from Monteverdi (and before) to Cage (and beyond) and that’s how I listen to it.

But there is a visible and rough dividing line between a straightforwardly linear development of the music up through the first World War and a general fragmentation of styles and concepts after WWII, so that’s how I’m dividing this into two lists. The first is the standard classical tradition, and that includes contemporary music that works within the general concepts of harmony, metered rhythm and the consequent structures. The second is the field of experimentation, including electronic music, that has exploded in the last sixty years but has firm roots in the classical tradition. Every one of these records will satisfy and are highly recommended (to purchase, you can find most on [this list here](, otherwise hit the links for individual listings):

####Pre-WWII tradition

* Jerusalem Quartet/Sharon Kam, *Brahms: String Quartet No. 2, Clarinet Quintet*
* Andreas Staier, *”…Pour passer la mélancolie”*
* Tokyo String Quartet, *Dvorak: Quartet No. 12, etc.*
* Javier Perianes, *…les sons et les parfums*
* Kevin Puts, *To Touch the Sky, If I were a Saw, Symphony No. 4*
* Elliott Carter, *Volume 9*
* Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado, *Schubert: Symphonies 3, 4*
* Anne-Marie McDermott, Calder String Quartet: *Mozart Piano Concertos Nos, 12, 13 & 14*
* Robert Paterson, *Winter Songs*
* Poeme Harmonique, *Combattimenti!*
* Daedalus Quartet, *George Perle: String Quartets 2, 5 and 8, Molto Adagio*
* Alexander String Quartet, *Bartók and Kodály: The Complete String Quartets*
* Pacifica String Quartet, *The Soviet Experience Volume 4* (conclusion of one of the finest Shostakovich cycles on record, each volume is augmented by music from his contemporaries)
* Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner, *Signs, Games and Messages*
* Jordi Savall, *Orient-Occident II/Esprit des Balkans*

####Post-WWII tradition

* David T. Little, *Soldier Songs*
* Claire Chase, *Density*
* Mivos Quartet, *[Reappearences](*
* Noah Creshevsky, *The Four Seasons*
* Indexical, *[Transient Series II: Jürg Frey](* (free download)
* Andy Kozar, *On The End …*
* Ingram Marshall/Jim Bengston, *Alcatraz* (DVD)
* Quartetto Prometeo, *Salvatore Sciarrino: Quartetto No. 7, No. 8, Seri quartetti brevi*
* John Zorn, *On the Torment of Saints …*
* Alvin Lucier, *Orchestral Works*
* Michael Reudenbach, *Szenen, Standbilder werke 1991-2009*
* Ensemble Signal, *Helmut Lachenmann: …Zwei Gefühle, Pression, Piano Works*
* R. Andrew Lee, *Dennis Johnson: November*
* Indexical, *[Index 0](*
* John Cage, *Variations 5* (DVD)
* New York Polyphony, *[Brown: Missa Charles Darwin](*

####Historical Recordings:

* Otto Klemperer, *Bruckner Symphony No. 5/Schubert Symphony No. 8*
* Michael Gielen, *Mahler Symphony No. 7*
* New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, *Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps*

**UPDATED:** Link for Jürg Frey download, link for *Missa Charles Darwin*, added Reudenbach, general cleanliness


Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.