recommended redbook classics

I won the entire Telarc classical CD catelogue back in the early eighties, just as I was converting from vinyl (it pays to send in those contest cards!) Since then I have bought very little classical music.
I am now looking to upgrade my core most famous and loved pieces by each composer with the finest available now (twenty years later on redbook). Finest is defined as a wondrous performance, beautifully recorded - spirit and soul win over interpretive accuracy.
Any recomendations would be welcomed for recordings of pieces such as Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, Beethovens Fifth, Third and Ninth, Chopins Etudes, Greig Piano Concertos, Shuberts Unfinished, Berloiz Symphony Fantastic, Rachmaninov's Scherazade, etc? Treasureable recordings of any of the top 100 classical pieces???
I sugest you eschew the "beautifully recorded" requirement and go for the musical performance.
Of course each has his or her own favourite, "best" performance. Here are some ideas.
For Beethoven look for Furtwangler /Berliner or Wiener. There is also a good performance of the 9th recorded at Beireyth after WW2. Also look for Karajan's old (1962?) Beeth cycle. Generally, you can find outstanding performances of individual symphonies...

For Chopin look up Schnabel and Gould.

For Berlioz look for Munch /Radio Canada SO (unusual recommend, I know) Munch/Boston, Sir Thomas Beecham/ Orch National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise. The latter is outstanding and was my reference for a while.

For Scheherazade (Rimski-Korsakov -- not Rach), look up Ansermet/OSR, Sir T Beecham/RPO.

For E Grieg piano, look for Karajan/Zimmermann, Schwarovski/Langer.

These come to mind
Thanks for the suggestions, Gregm. I agree that stellar performance is more important than recording quality but I am hoping that, while rare, both can be found together and the amazing goners will know about it.
I know that I have heard some brilliant soloists lately. Not sure what orchestras are magic at this time. Apologies to Rimski (late night and jet lagged from Vegas return). Also really looking for a a great version of Vilvaldi's Four Seasons.
Great question. has a recommended list that they rated 10/10 for both "Artistic Quality and Sound Quality", that might be a good resource if you have not already seen it. But I'd also like to see what other Gon'ers think on this topic.
Vivaldi: go for the Musici version on Philips. There are also many others to experiment with.
I started a lengthy response of my favorite performances ala Gregm - but I find I have a really hard time remembering the quality of the sonics which I infer from your post is extremely important to you. I have boiled down my recommendations to those recordings which I really enjoy and have outstanding sonics, even though these selections might not be my 1st choice for the performance alone.

On Reference Recordings: Arnold Overtures,Barber & Menotti VC's, Brucknen Sym 9, Copland Applachian Spriing & 3rd Sym, Chadwick Tam O'Santer etc, Janacek Sinfonietta etc, Nojima plays Liszt, Mussorgsky Pictures, Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, Nojima plays Ravel, Respighi Pines of Rome, Rimski-Korsakov Scheherazade, Stravinski Firebird and Rite of Spring, Strauss ein heldenleben.

Now if you want outstanding performances which I always prefer over any sonic issues I would be happy to share. There are just too too many for a generic response. But, for example, Beethoven Sym #5 - Carlos Kleiber on DG is intensely exciting - it just doesn't get any better than this! I also enjoy all of the Symphonies by Harnoncourt and Bernstein.
Chopin - Etudes - Askenazy on London, Lortie on Chandos, and Wild on Chesky all turn in excellent performances.
Greig - Stephen Kovacevich (Bishop)& Davis. This disc also has an outstanding Schumann PC as well. For me this is a benchmark performance, although some of the newer ones may fit your taste better. FOR SOMETHING OUTSTANDING, which should be heard, if you like Greig and/or solo piano is Gilels doing the Lyric Pieces on DG. Just incredible IMHO!
Three that come to mind spontaneously are the Haydn cello concertos by Truls Mork/Iona Brown, on Virgin ; the Bach sonatas & partitas for solo violin played by James Ehnes, on Analekta, and Handel arias sung by Karina Gauvin with Tafelmusik, also on Analekta. Great performances, beautifully recorded. Oh, and IMHO the best Brandenburgs are conducted by Benjamin Britten.

But then, you may be more interested in Romantics than in Baroque. I like Backhouse playing the Beethoven piano concertos (Decca), Louis Lortie playing Liszt and Ravel (Chandos) and Anton Kuerti playing piano sonatas by both Haydn and Beethoven (Analekta again). Andras Schiff on Decca is my favourite for Schubert piano sonatas.

Thanks for the chance to remember these great discs I already have. Thanks to everyone who posts for new ones to try.
You each are so wonderful to take the time to do this. I am glad that you are enjoying the thread. There are already many great suggestions. I do love Baroque as well as Classical and Romantic - Mozart 40th anyone? Pacabel Cannon, Albinoni Adagio, Rodrigo Fantasia Para Un Gentlehome, Chopin Rondo for Piano Op14 Krakowiak, Liszt Transcendental Etudes, Schuberts Unfinished and 5th Symphonies, Tchaikovsky's Piano Conc #1 and Symphony #5?
After starting this thread last night, while listening to a Schubert Symphony, I was filled with appreciation for all the instrument makers, all the lessons and years of work for the musicians, the composers and teachers, and all the technical people involved in just the act of my appreciating Schubert in my living room. Most work for love and could earn more in another field. Many could not afford the equipment with which we enjoy thier life's work. We indeed have a rich musical heritage to chose from and join a magical family of devoted people when we spin our discs and are transported.
Gammejo, before making any more recommendtations, a rhetorical question. As opposed to spending more money buying a better(?) recorded performance of the stuff with which you are familiar, why not explore other music by your already favorite composers (not to mention the great number of composers you have yet to be exposed)? Just something to think about.

Mozart 40th - Bruno Walter (How about his PC's?)
Chopin - Krakowiak (with both piano PC's etc) Arrau for a leisurely approach on Phillips or Ohlsson on Arabesque for a more masculine approach (I also like Ohlsson's complete traversal of Chopin's music for solo piano.)

Lizst Transcendental Etudes - Bolet (on these or any other Lizst works). How about Lizst's Annees de Perlerinage? (Bolet or Lazar Berman)or the Sonata in B?

Schubert Sym #5 and #8 In the romantic tradition - Wand. For something more authentic and crip, less "over orchestrated" I love Mackerras witrh the OAE on Virgin. (What about Schuberts music for solo piano, i.e. Wanderer Fantasy, Impromptus, and Sonata in B-flat D960?)

Tchaikovsky PC Argerich - there is a DG recording which also includes and excellent Prokovief PC#3 as well. This gal get a lot of drama into these works. As to the Symphony #5, I don't go there often enuf to have a favorite, other than I do enjoy Jansson's manner and the quality of the recordings put out by Chandos. My favorite Sym is #1, subtitled Winter Dreams, by Litton on Virgin.

Composers/music you might like to get to know - Schumann's solo piano works are just exquisite, R strauss' tone poems, Dvorak Symphonies 5 thru 9 and his tone poems as well, Smetana's Ma Vlast, Sibelius's symphonies and incidental music, MAHLER (start with Sym#1 and move along slowly thru all 9 in order). And just a whole lot more, but thats good for a start.
Newbee - great question. Ideally I would like to do both. I am very open to exploring new pieces - a real treasure hunt!
I play classical on a 6'8" Kawai Grand but not as skillfully as I would like, and therefore love piano music. I, of course, have many pieces I love that havent been mentioned but am always looking to broaden, particlularly into fairly accessible music that inspires or opens the heart, or transfixes with its beauty of form expression such as in the Bach fugues. Must confess that most 20th century and atonal do not do it for me at this time, but would like to appreciate Mahler better.
I am addicted to ArkivMusic,they have fantastic collection of hard to find classical cd.I have discovered some gems such as Mela Tennenbaum violonist playing beethoven ,mozart,vivaldi,locatteli etc on ESSay.Another great label of outstanding recording quality and great performers is Danacord,especialy marzak playing Rachmaninov concertos,and shostakowitch piano concertos.
For Russian composers,berlioz try Gergiev an outstanding conductor. Caetani another great conductor for shostakowitch on Art&music an excellent label for Italian composers.For classical sonatas,beethoven,shubert,mozart I particularly like wilhelm Kempf another great if eccentric pianist is fredric Gulda he has some great dvd videos as well as outstanding interpretations of bach's well tempered klavier.An outstanding conductor is Celibadacie although most of the recording are not of the highest audio quality,try his bruckners.sibelius and richard strauss.For sibelius try Osmo Vanska on BIS label.The list goes on forever.Enjoy
For an instant classical redbook collection why not just order all of the recently remastered/reissued 20 "RCA Living Stereo" and 5 "Mercury Living Presence" SACD/CD hybrids? There are all great.

Go to the link

and search on the phrases in quotes above. Order 'em al. They are a bargain at $10 to $12 each.
Newbee. I took you up on your recommendation exploring Schumann's solo piano works and obtained a CD of Schumann Fantasy Op17 played by Evgeny Kissin RCA and absolutely loved it.
Tonight I owe you another thank you. I listened to the Ohlosson Chopin Krakowiak on Arabesque you recommended and was totally transfixed with the performance and sound quality. He reveals the treasure
in each note and then creates magic in the sum of the parts. I will not be surprised if this recording remains my lifetime favorite of the piece. It is a CD that I would be confident my LP friends would enjoy.
From Newbee" "Now if you want outstanding performances which I always prefer over any sonic issues I would be happy to share. ... for example, Beethoven Sym #5 - Carlos Kleiber on DG is intensely exciting - it just doesn't get any better than this!"
To Newbee - I listened to Kleiber last night - I totally agrree, what a great 5th! Energy, heart and loveliness, really captuired the joy and power of the peice. Also the sonic were fine.