Help this budding Classical audiophile

I am looking for a recommendation on what Classical cd to buy, preferable under the Naxos label as they are well recorded and inexpensive (talk about having your cake and eating it too!). I've been an audiophile for the past 20 years now and mainly listen to acoustic jazz. My taste includes artists such as Bobby Hutcherson, Kenny Barron, Brad Mehldau, Micheal Franks, Yellowjackets, Joey Calderazzo to name a few. I have about 700 cd's, with about 80% acoustic jazz. I'm more into the melody, and of course the musicianship, when I buy cd's. One thing that is also very important to me is the recording quality. I only started getting "turned on" to Classical music within the last 2-3 years and have since bought cd's from Bach, Beethoven, and my favorite right now, Haydn. I particularly like the sound of the violin and have exclusively bought violin quartets/trios. I like listening to Classical songs that are "emotional", even solo violin would do. Any recommendations out there would be greatly appreciated as this budding Classical audiophile has no clue as to what cd to pick from the very vast selection Classical music has to offer. Thanks in advance!
I too am "getting started" in the classical vein (even though I grew up playing classical violin and piano) and have very similar tastes in jazz. That being said, I just purchased Yo-yo Ma's Obrigado Brazil cd, both the studio and live versions. This is obviously not a true classical recording in the sense but I feel it has the best of both worlds. Also try Lara St. John's Bach Works for Violin Solo. A+ performance and recording. Good luck!
I've been exploring classical music for some time now, since back in the day when the best I could do was the speakers that came with my Gateway computer! Not only could I not afford a decent system, but budget cd's were always in order. So that's what I did, I picked up cheap compilations from the big chain stores, listened and learned. Best Buy, Circuit City, you name it! All cheap, cheap, but boy did I get exposed! With time I came to distinguish what I liked from what I appreciated from what I loved. Many of these cd's were under $5.00, not particularly well recorded but then again, my system wasn't up to snuff either. One of my favorites was a 4 disc set that I picked for under $10.00 "Great Violin Moments", from the Kannon label. Violin concertos from Brahms, Mendelsson, Sibelius and two sonatas from Mozart. What a starter set! In time I got a decent system and with it new and better recorded versions of my favorites. But to this day I don't think I'll ever recapture the emotional impact of discovering these gems on that old beat up computer.
Another such compilation, which incidently, is very well recorded, is "Romantic Violin" on the RCA Red Seal label. They aslo have a very fine "Romantic Cello" disc as well! (I love the Red Seal series from RCA, classic perfomances from the RCA archives remastered)
So to answer your question on violin suggestions:
Mozart and Beethoven's Sonatas for Violin & Piano;
Brahms, Mendelsson, Beethoven, Sibelius for violin concertos;
Gidion Kremer's readings of Astor Piazolla's music for something different;
Naturally, Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bach's Brandenberg Concertos need to be mentioned for Baroque standards.
There's just so many!
Perhaps, getting a copy or two of introduction to classical music books will be helpful (from libraries or bookstores). They give you the background info to help you appreciate classical music, and they usually recommend music for various levels of appreciation. Also, you might want to check The Absolute Sound (TAS) for the recommended list-- nothing is absolute, but at least that is the start. And many websites (e.g. will allow you to listen to portion of the titles to see if you like the selected music. Your taste might be different from everyone else, so you can listen before you buy. Naxos is okay, there are various brands too worth your exploration. Hope this is helpful!
Gemini, if you are looking to start with some of "the classics" how about:

Ravel: Bolero / Herbert Von Karajan w/ Berlin Philharmonic (1978)

Wagner: Ride Of The Valkyries / Erich Leinsdorf w/ Los Angeles Philharmonic (1978)

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Seiji Ozawa w/ Boston Symphony Orchestra (1981)

Holst: The Planets / Herbert Von Karajan w/ Berlin Philharmonic (1981)

For Violin, Beethoven: Violin Concerto/Romances / Kurt Masur w/ New York Philharmonic featuring Anne Sophie Mutter (2002)

And...... My absolute all time favorite:

Ouverturen und Intermizzi: Herbert Von Karajan w/ Berlin Philharmonic featuring Anne Sophie Mutter on EMI. (1981) Be very prepared to cry. Anne's performance in this recording is exceptional. Especially, Meditation. OH MY GOD!!!!!

Well, that was fun. I think I'll listen to some classical tonight.

Happy listening.
here's a shameless plug for one of my best friends:

fantasies for violin and piano (schubert, schoenberg, ernst, and waxman)
frank huang, violin and dina vainstein, piano

here's a link to the cd on amazon:

frank has recently won several major international competitions (most recently, the naumburg competition), and he just released his first cd on the naxos label. great performances, especially of the schubert fantasy. the ernst and schoenberg may be a little less accessible (musically), but who knows, you might enjoy them as well. in any event, i think it is an excellent album, and frank has one of the sweetest tones i have ever heard.

happy listening,
Dear Budding Classical Music Listener:

Of course, one of the easiest to "understand" and is very enjoyable to listen is Franz Schubert's violin sonatas on the Naxos label, the violinist's name escapes me at this moment. Very lyrical melodies with simple harmonic structure from the piano accompaniment. Brahms' viola or clarinet sonatas, , have a more complex harmonic structure, but extremely lyrical. Kim Kashkashian's performance is while worth it, I beleive it is on the ECM label.
For cello, Faure's small chamber pieces for cello and piano are well worth a listen. Very lyrical and some pieces have very little harmonic structure, just ethereal pleasure.

Julian Johnson once said: just because you can see does not mean you know how to read, so goes it with sound: just because you can hear does not mean you know how to listen. Classical music is meant to be critical listened, it is art and not some commodity off the shelf. So take care of it and it will reciprocate in kind.
Unfortunately, if you want to truly enjoy classical music, you will need either a high-rez digital format (DVD, DVD-A, or SACD) or a decent turntable and vinyl. Top tier Redbook CD's players (I'm using a Accuphase DP-75V) can be quite lush and "analog" sounding, but the instruments that always fall short in Redbook CD's are bowed violins and violas. There are noticeable digital artifacts, which will make these instruments sound harsh, scratchy, or screechy, regardless of the CD pressing quality, or the quality of components, tweaks, or room acoustics.
Most emotional disk I know of is

Gary Karr - Adagio d'Albinoni

Double Bass accompanied by organ. I'm not an organ music lover, and never heard a bass sound so melodic. It often sounds like cello, and is the saddest music ever...
Gemini, I'm in the same position; new to classical and trying to learn
about the seemingly millions of classical offerings.

I would recommend a copy of The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and
DVDs 2003/2004. I've been browsing through it a lot lately. They note
key CDs to build a good (though large) collection and note recordings
that are above and beyond good. They also include SACD. Many Naxos
recordings are included. There is also another book that looked
interesting but I have purchased yet: The Essential Canon of Classical
Music by Dubal. the magazine Gramophone is also a good resource for
new discoveries. Hifi+ also has good classical coverage sometimes going
back through older stuff.

Contrary to what Fatparrot says, my Audio Note DAC is splendid with
redbook classical. It does piano, cello and violin right. There are some
XRCDs that are even better. However, the classical labels certainly seem
to be joining the SACD bandwagon and this may be a reason to try

Channel Classics has consistently good quality and performances and
most new titles are SACD hybrids. Some of the LSO Live recordings are
great. I'm not very good at noting recordings, but here are three recs:
Kodaly, music for Cello and Piano with Sung-Won Yang on the EMI
Classics label, the Zehetmair Quartett Robert Schuman on the EMI New
Series label, and the infamous Rachel podger recording of Bach's
complete Sonatas and Partitas on the Channel Classics label (SACD). Too
many other to list. Some of the older Rostopovich cello recordings are

Some composers I like are Part, Shostakovich, Liszt, Haydn, and Britten.
I'm becoming a big fan of Shostakovich.
A very interesting, but hard to find disc is Niels W. Gade, violin sonatas 1-3, Bratchkova, CPO 999 644-2. Romantic-era violin and piano; I wish I had known about this composer a long time ago. On Naxos, I recommend Glazunov/Dvorak violin concertos, and if you like atmospheric symphonic music, Sibelius Tone Poems. The Baroque violin recordings of John Holloway sound very good are highly recommended (Unam Ceylum and Unarum Fidium).

On another note, you might try joining a mail order club or two in order to get a load of "free" discs to begin with. It will allow you to sample a good diversity of music without a significant price tag. Most of the limited choices at BMG are fairly common, but you can pick and choose on the web site. For violin music probably available there, try Barber and Meyer violin concertos (Hahn; Sony Classical), Bach Art of the Fugue (Emerson String Qt; Deutsche Grammophon), Tartini violin concertos (Wallfisch; Hyperion), Mendelsohn and Shostakovitch violin concertos (Hahn, Sony Classical), Vivaldi Late Violin Concertos (Carmignola; Sony), Bach Solo & Double Violin Concertos (Manze, Harmonia Mundi), Vivaldi Concert for the Prince of Poland (Manze, Harmonia Mundi). For contemporary symphonic music that is not over the top (i.e., you can listen to it more than once), try John Adams Naive and Sentimental Music. Cheers.
Look at the web site for Berkshire Record Outlet. They have a wide selection of classical at very good prices. Harmonia Mundi is almost always excellent, They have many other labels , like Astree that are not well known but very good. Prices often $3 to $5 a CD. Also many older recordings by major labels. I second the use of a good record guide.
The Naxos cataloge has "recomended" ratings from a number of sources printed next to the item. A suggestion is to purchase the 10-20 recordings that are universally highly recomended. At about $6-$7 a CD it is a quick (and cheap) way to obtain a diverse slection of classical recordings that will lead you to more discoveries in your quest.
pick up copies of mendelssohns,beethoven's and brahm's violin concertos.performers such as heifetz,perlman,vengerov and newcomer hilary hahn have excellent recordings.there are many others,but start with these as they are among the best.
When swimming in the ocean of the classical repertoire it is impossible to drown. (Well, maybe avoid Wagner's Rhine and Valkyres at first, but, eventually, they will snare you!)

You seem to be residing at the moment in the Classical pond with Herrs Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, etc. By the way, Haydn does have 104 symphonies and many string quartets. It is now possible to hear this music in recordings employing "original instruments" of the time as well as more modern interprations using standard instruments. So, there alone, you have a large chunk of sea.

Maybe to give yourself a bit of variety, swim on over to the late-Romantic epoch and hear some of the great, overtly-emotional orchestral works by Richard Strauss, Rachmaninov, Sibelius, and Mahler.

About buying CDs, search for a good used-CD store close to your home. Don't limit yourself to any labels. Read up on classical performers and their work. Two magazines I would recommend are "Fanfare" and the British publication, "Gramophone". Don't take all their reviews at face value but there are some good smart recommendations to be had.

Forgive the "water" theme of this missive but I've been listening to various recordings of Debussy's "La Mer" recently and may be just too wet for my own good.

With best regards.
Even cheaper CD's --the public library. Depending on your population area, the offering would vary. In Indianapolis, the Classical CD collection is HUGE!

Gabbro, nice idea to include music in baroque style, particularly since the request was for "emotional" music. It is often overlooked the resource of emotional music that is baroque.

Some of the best performances you may ever hear are live performances broadcast in the mid to late evening on NPR and college stations. They would include subscription concerts of some of the top orchestras, festivals, the show "Perfomance Today" and others. Generally, these broadcasts are better than many CD's, both in audio quality (no weird mixing and studio reverb) and also in artistic quality.

The price is right. Through radio broadcasts and public library recordings you can discover more about what you like.

Classical music can be immensely rewarding. The treasures are as vast as the ocean. As far as Classical, I'm a "lifer."
Agreed. use the library. Lots to choose from there.
Fatparrot.... When I play my violin (no CD involved) it tends to sound "harsh, scratchy, or screechy". Maybe that's just a characteristic of the instrument. Violas, and cellos are smoother.
Maestro Eldartford,

I think the element of...ahem...practice...may be in question here? ;>)

(Or maybe it's the chin-rest you are using. Have you tried the oxygen-free model by Hollistic Thermometer? Also, what kind of horse did you use for the bowhairs? It's that pesky synergy issue again.)
Vvrinc...I don't play much lately. Can't stand to listen to myself. I quit when I realized I would never sound like I Perlman.

The bow hair is from a fine Arabian horse, raised exclusively on organicly grown oats, but which was bred using artifical insemination Do you think this could be the problem?
Aha! Undoubtedly, there was contamination at the lab, consequently, leading to the Arabian in question developing hair of a particularly coarse nature. There is the scratchy sound right there! (Have you tried bi-hairing and, also maybe, placing an REF filter on the frog of the bow?)

I tried bi-wiring my piano strings and it has made me sound like Richter (well...Andy, nevertheless).