Reference Level Recording of Classical on CD's?

Hello, I just set up a pretty good digital system. Now I am looking for some good quality CD's to enjoy. I am into classical, all difference styles and periods, from solo piano, chamber to full orchestral stuff. Please make some recomandations.

By the way, I stumbled upon Richard Goode's Beethoven sonata set, beautiful playing to go with excellent recording. Check it out if you haven't.
I would like to add, that I am looking for good recording quality as well as performance. Thanks!
Look for any of the Wilson Audiophile series (sorry, out of print, but well worth the effort to track down).
My particular favorite is Pictures at Exhibition - Hyperion Knight, pianist.
For small ensembles and solo, go for the TACET label as well as Fonè/Signoricci, both supreme recording quality

The second link is Fonè, no matter what the machine says (don't know why it keeps changing the URL's name)
It would be helpful if you narrowed your inquiry some, at least to composers and or periods of composition (baroque, classical, romantic, modern, neo classical, neo romantic, etc).

BTW, Goode has been one of my favorites with Beethoven's sonatas, but I'm very impressed with Paul Lewis new performances on Harmonia Mundi. And the recordings are excellent!

Of other recent releases that I enjoyed -

Speaking of Beethoven, try Vanska's new performances on BIS, again very good performances and excellent recordings.

If you looking for some traditional composers you might try Wild's performances of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto's as reissued by Chandos. Excellent performances and sound.

A little off the beaten path, but very interesting music from the British Isles by Bantock on Hyperion. Great recordings of excellent performances.

A little further off the beaten path, you might try Hovhaness' Mysterious Mountains on TELARC.

Back on the well beaten path, one of my favorite new releases is Mahler 1 with Zander on TELARC. It includes an excellent rendition of Songs of a Wayfarer which IMHO fits perfectly with the mood of Sym #1.

Chamber music - new to me are Beethoven Piano trios, complete by the Florestan Trio on Hyperion. Very good performances, I think. Excellent sound.

Solo piano music - So much too choose from, actually too much. But I have a real fondness for Frederic Chiu's traversal of Prokofiev's music for solo piano on Harmonia Mundi, including all of the sonatas as well as some transcriptions of his orchestral music like Romeo & Juliet and Cinderella. Absolute clarity of tone in the recordings and excellent performances as well.

Others that have impressed me include-
Dvorak Cello Concerto w/Jean-Guihen on Harmonia Mundi
Rachmaninov Sonata #2 by Olga Kern on Harmonia Mundi
Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil on Harmonia Mundi (outstanding from my POV. Love those basses in the Estonian Chamber Chior.

These are just a few new(er) releases - I have made no attempt to compare with earlier, and perhaps much greater performances on LP's or OOP CD's.

More specifics from you re likes/dislikes, etc will produce a bit more specific recommendations.

Any of the Minnesota SO/Oui on the Reference Recordings label. Superior performances and sound.

Without knowing your preferences it is difficult.

I can list what I like:
I second Newbee's recommendation of Mahler's 1st symphony on Telarc with Benjamin Zander.

I also find Mahler's complete symphonies set with Chailly to be pretty good from both performance and recording quality standpoint.

Also, a must have, in my opinion, is Mahler's 2nd with Bernstein on DG. It is an older recording, but still quiet good and preformance is very good, emotional, typical of Bernstein's Mahler.

Shostakovich Piano Trios 1 and 2

Shostakovich's Quartets with Fitzwilliam String Quartet on Decca.

Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues with Konstantin Scherbakov on Naxos(although this is a good performance with good sound, I still prefer Tatiana Nikolaeva's recording).

Schoenberg, Silbelius violin concertos with Hilary Hahn on DG.

Rachmaninov Piano Concertos with Ashkenazy, conducted by Previn.

Rachmaninov Symphonies with Ashkenazy.

Shostakovich's 5th symphony with Rostropovich.

Bruckner's 8th symphony with Boulez.

Bach's Cello Suites with Rostropovich. This one is a box set.

Again, without knowing what type of classical music you're looking for, it is just a listing of some of the classical recordings I like.

Hope that helps
Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions... My usual listening habbit include mostly Baroque and Classical orchestral and solo piano stuff (Bach, Mozart and Beethoven). But although recently, I have been listening to more and more chamber and romantic period stuff...

One more thing, any sugguestions for late Mozart piano concerti or Symphonies? Those have always been my favorites.

Thanks again.
After going to Vinyl after 20 years of Classical on CD, there are only 3 CD's I kept for their stunning performance and sound quality: Vaughan Williams "Job," with Barry Wordsworth on Collins, (re-released on Naxos, same recording); Ginastera's Panambi with Gisele Ben-dor on Conifer, and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra with Barenboim and the CSO. That's it, 3 CDs.
Mozart Piano Concertos - Most recent releases by Phillips with Brendel and the Scottish Chamber Orchesta conducted by Charles Makerras are excellent IMHO.

Jdaniel, I find that sad. But we are all somewhat self limiting in things that are not truly important to us I guess.

But, FWIW, why are you posting such a prideful description of your format choices in a Music forum? Post this in the ditigal forum for some brick's or in the vinyl forum if you want some friends.
Strange, I don't recall saying anything specifically negative about CDs...the three I mentioned happen to have what I consider extremely above average--spectacular in fact--sound for CDs. Your quick and defensive reply reveals more about your own misgivings about CD sound than my post ever could. Buh bye. : )
Have you heard Schubert's piano works?
If not, you have to!
"Evgeny Kissin & James Levine: The Carnegie Hall Concert" is excellent. You can listen to samples on amazon and see if you like it.

Also, "Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 3; Rhapsodies, Op. 79; Piano Pieces, Opp. 117-119" with Radu Lupu is pretty good. Not a big fan of his version of the Brahms Concerto No.1, but the solo stuff is very good.

In addition to Audiophile1's recommendations I would add a couple of solo piano recordings of Schuberts works which I have found outstanding both for performance and recording. Volodos 'Solo Piano Works' by Schubert on Sony is really outstanding, as is Maria Joao Pires 'Le Voyage Magnifique' on DG.

If you are not familar with Schumann then I would suggest that you hear his Fantasy in C, Op17. One of the most engaging pieces for solo piano - it will sweep you away. There are many quite good versions, but I like Richard Goode's on Elektra Nonesuch as it includes an excellent rendition of Humoreske, Op20, as well.

Re Brahms, I don't know if these are still in print, but if they are you won't be disappointed with Antononin Kubalek's 2 recordings of much of Brahms solo piano music on the Dorian label, especially Vol 1 which has the Sonata #3 and 3 Intermezzi Op117.

By the way, Audiophile1, where did you get the Lupu recording - mine is with #3 on London 417122 and the Intermezzi on 417599. The latter includes 2 Rhapsodies and the Intermezzi. I don't disagree with you comments on Lupu BTW.

Toufu, if you are not familar with Brahms solo piano music, and you want something cheap, very assessible, and by a fine, relatively unknown, pianist pick up Idil Biret's Intermezzi Op117, Piano Pieces, Op118 & 119, and Scherzo.
(In fact, while the recording quality is varible - typical of Naxos, you really can't go wrong using Birets recordings on Naxos as an introduction to solo piano music of Chopin and Rachmaninoff as well as Brahms.

Chopin's Nocturnes and 4 Impromptus by Hewitt on Hyperion.

Lizst's Sonata in B by Nojima on Reference Recordings. This may not be my favorite performance BUT is an 'audiophile' recording of some merit.

Hope that helps a bit.

PS for Toufu, I don't know how I forgot to mention - for something which defies realization but succeeds, two CD's put out by TELARC which are reproductions of piano rolls of Rachmaninoff's own performances of his own music as well as transcriptions of the compositions of others. If you didn't know you wouldn't be able to identify the process and the recording quality is excellent. A Bosendorfer Grand Imperial in full bloom!

PS for Jdaniel, FWIW I have neither misgivings about the CD format, nor (for you at least - if judged by your responses in other threads) the newly discovered 'superiority of vinyl'.
I've been listening to both, with some decent equipment, for many years and each is full of warts. If you can't hear the warts in vinyl you will some day.

While you may not have specifically denegrated the CD format, you certainly imply that vinyl is superior by not only presenting your credentials to support your conclusions, but by limiting your response, without other qualification, to 3 recordings. I can assure Toufu that there are many outstanding recordings in either digital or vinyl. Perhaps you just haven't heard them them all. Yeh, I know, you've been invested in exploring digital for 20 years, and found only three outstanding CD's.

Dude, this is a music forum. Take your digital v analog crap elsewhere. Buh-bye.
Newbee, this is the Lupu recording I have.

I also have Lupu's recordings of Schubert's piano works, which is pretty good in its own way as well. Lupu shines on solo piano.

Toufu, if you like Bach's piano stuff, I encourage you to pick up Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues that I recommended above. Great price/performance value of it on Naxos's Konstantin Scherbakov recording. Since it's on Naxos label, it is pretty cheap.
The Mahler cycle by the SF Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting is pretty darn stunning in CD and SACD. The dynamic range is around 40dB and the orchestral colors are accurate and well captured. Mahler's 1st is probably the easiest for newbies to Mahler.

A sampling as a starter. I listed first those recordings that have impressive sound and, except where noted, are very good performances. The Second listing I selected for the performances – but noted where the sound was odd or not the best. If you have a particular composer you are looking for speak up. In general, most of what either Lopez Cobos, Erich Kunzel or Paavo Jarvi recorded on Telarc with the Cincinnati Symp Orch (or the Cin Pops Orchestra for the summer with Kunzel) have nice sound – it is that Telarc sound if you like that. A lot of older stuff that I did not list is the music I consider to be incredible performances but the sound can suffer – historical recordings on Testament, EMI etc. – I like it and do not notice the sound problems after 2 minutes into the piece – the performances simply take over - but I don't know that the recomendations would fit into your request.

I threw in a couple operas - Verdi's Il Travitoria and Wagner's Ring Cycle because in my opinion a lot of great 'classical' music is found in opera. I find the selections that I threw in to be particularly representative of the great classical music in opera.

(1) For quality of sound and performance: Mahler’s 2nd - Fischer,on Channel classics; Mahler’s 2 nd - Rattle, on EMI classics; - Ravel, Bolero etc Paavo Jarvi Cincinnati Symp on Telarc; Bach Haprsichord Concertos- Eggar – Manze on Harmonia Mundi; Haydn String Quartets Op 76, The Lindseys – on ASW; Beethoven’s 4 and 5 th Vanska BIS (very nice sound – performance is not bad but not great); Mozart Violin concertos Manze Elgar – harmonia mundi.

(2) For great performances – Mahler’s 9 th on DG Von Karajan BPO; Beethoven’s 9 symphony Box (from 1962) Dg – Von Karajan BPO; Sibelius sym 4&7 EMI Von Karajan –Philharmonia (sound is not the best but this is the recording upopn which Sibelius commented –saying that Von Karajan understood his 4 th); Beethoven’s 9 th – Furtwangler EMI (sound not the best but the performance is incredible and the sound is better than most other Furtwangler recordings, particularly those from during the war); Mozart Piano Concertos – Uchida box set on Phillips, and box set on Sony by Perahia (as with any box set these two have hits and misses but the two artists present nice differences).; Haydn String quartets Op 20 – quator mosaiques and same for op 33; Mendelssohn octet – Nash Ensemble on Wigmore Hall; Mendelssohn violen concerto Kyung Wha Chung – Decca Legends (the Decca Legends CD’s have a certain sound – I like it but you either will like it or hate it – Chung does an incredible job though so you can’t go wrong with this one and it will give you an idea of that Decca Legends sound); Keilberth’s Ring Cycle (Wagner) on Testament ( live from Beyreuth, the sound is not perfect but is not bad and the performance is excellent); Von Karajan DG – Ring Cycle – pretty much perfect; Bruckner 4 th symp. Wand –RCA Red Seal; Bach St Matthew Passion, Klemperer EMI; Verdi – Il Trovatore – Von Karajan EMI
Toufu - after I posted I noticed that you had specified Mozart late piano concerti and symphonies. I indicated my choices for the piano concerti in the earlier post. As to late symphonies my highest recomendation with no reservations is Bernstein on DG with the VPO #'s 40 and 41 - great interpretation and nice sound. Bohm with the BPO on DG for 35-41 - Bohm did not have the repeats ad infinitum that became popular later - but his interpretations are very nice and fit well in any collection. Pinnock on Archive - box set - hit or miss, but the late symphonies are very well done. As to pure sound, Jacobs on Harmonia Mundi #'s 38 and 41 - incredible sound - very well defined instruments - particularly percussion, but I personally do not care for the interpretation by Jacobs.