Revised list: Best-of-Naxos classical catalog

Category: Music

The following list of top choices from the Naxos classical catalog has been revised from my original post a few days ago. I received a number of private E-mails from Audiogon readers, most of which said they liked most of the Naxos recordings. The following list has been revised to reflect the following changes:
a. Recordings that received only one award (from the classical music magazines mentioned in my first post) have been deleted, and only recordings with two or more awards have been included on the list.
b. The number of awards received by each recording is shown in parenthesis after the catalog number.
c. The list of composers has been expanded to include some lesser-known artists.

Here is the list of the top-rated recordings from the Naxos catalog:
1. Johann Albrechtsberger (1736-1809): Concerto in B-flat Major (8.553831) (2 awards)
2. Malcolm Arnold (b. 1921): Symphonies #3 & #4 (8.553739) (3 awards); Symphony #9 (8.553540) (3 awards)
3. C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788): Keyboard Sonatas (8.553640) (3 awards)
4. Samuel Barber (1910-1981): First Essay for Orchestra (8.559024) (2 awards)
5. Bela Bartok (1881-1945): Hungarian Pictures (8.5543210) (2 awards); Contrasts (8.550749) (4 awards)
6. Arnold Bax (1883-1953): Fantasy Sonata for Harp & Viola (8.554507) (3)
7. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano (8.554288) (3)
8. Arthur Bliss (1891-1975): Adam Zero (8.553383) (5)
9. Pierre Boulez (b. 1925): Piano Sonatas #1-3 (8.553353) (3)
10. Benjamin Britten (1913-1976): Alla Marcia (8.554360) (3)
11. Anton Bruckner (1824-1896): Symphony #0 (8.554432) (4); Symphony #2 (8.554006) (4); #3 (8.553454) (4); #4 (8.554128) (4); #7 (8.554269) (4)
12. John Cage (1912-1992): Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (8.559042) (4)
13. Ernest Chausson (1855-1899): String Quartet, Op. 35 (8.553645) (4)
14. Frederick Chopin (1810-1849): Cello Sonatas (8.553159) (3)
15. Muzio Clementi (1752-1832): Piano Music (selection) (8.550452) (3)
16. Archangel Corelli (1653-1713): Concerto for Oboe and Strings (8.553391) (2)
17. Frederick Delius (1862-1934): Orchestral Works (8.553535) (2)
18. Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474): Missa l’homme arme (8.553087) (4)
19. Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Piano Quintet in A Minor (8.553737) (5); Symphony #3 (8.554719) (4)
20. Gerald Finzi (1901-1956): Clarinet Concerto; 5 Bagatelles (8.553566) (5)
21. Cesar Franck (1822-1890): Piano Quintet in F Minor (8.553645) (4)
22. Edvard Grieg (1843-1907): Piano Music #2 (8.550882) (3)
23. Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809): Symphony #30 (8.550757) (2); Symphonies #74-76 (8.554109) (2); String Quartets, Op. 64, #1-3 (8.550673) (3); String Quartets, Op. 64, #4-6 (8.550674) (3)
24. Gustav Holst (1874-1934): Somerset Rhapsody (8.553696) (4)
25. Leos Janacek (1854-1928): Piano Music, Vol. #3 (8.553588) (2)
26. Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792): Olympic Overture (8.553734) (6)
27. Franz Liszt (1811-1886): Complete Piano Music, Vol. 1 (8.553852) (5)
28. Darius Milhaud (1892-1974): Piano Music (8.553443)
29. Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994): Chain II (8.553202) (4)
30. E.J Moeran (1894-1950): String Quartets; String Trio (8.554079) (5)
31. Carl Nielsen (1865-1931): String Quartet, Op. 14 (8.553907) (3)
32. Jacob Obrecht (1457-1505): Missa Caput & Salve Regina (8.553210) (5)
33. Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880): Gaite Parisienne (8.554005) (6)
34. Walter Piston (1894-1976): Violin Concertos #1 and #2 (8.559003) (4)
35. Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953): Piano Concertos #1, 3, and 4 (8.550566) (3); Piano Concertos #2 and 5 (8.550565) (3)
36. Einojuhani Rautavaara (b. 1928): Cantus Arcticus & others (8.554147) (5)
37. Alan Rawsthorne (1905-1971): Orchestral Works (8.553567) (4)
38. Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936): Piano Music – Ancient Airs & Dances (8.553704) (5)
39. Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975): Cello Concertos #1 and #2 (8.550813) (4)
40. Jean Sibelius (1865-1957): Finlandia (8.554265) (2)
41. Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884): Ma Vlast (complete) (8.550931) (2)
42. Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): Suites #1 and #2 (8.550644) (3)
43. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): Symphony #5 (8.550738) (5)
44. Guiseppe Verdi (1813-1901): Requiem (2 CD’s) (8.550944-45) (3)
45. Henry Vieuxtemps (1820-1881): Violin Concertos #2 and 3 (8.554114) (3)
46. Richard Wagner (1813-1883): The Flying Dutchman (8.660025-26) (4)
47. William Walton (1902-1983): Cello Concerto (8.554325) (4); Johannesburg Festival Overture (8.553402) (5); March for “A History of the English Speaking Peoples” (8.553869) (4); Violin Concerto (8.554325) (4)
On rare occasions the dominant cynical region of my homunculus is overidden by admiration. So, after following your jazz and now classical forays, instead of my reflexive "you've obviously got too much time on your hands" comment, I have to say I'm amazed and admire your knowledgeable, fastidious profferings, particularly with regard to jazz. I stand acynical,(temporarily) in admiration and say thanks. Great posts. Mark
You'll have to add the Vaughn Williams Phantasy Quintet and Quartets by the Maggini String Quartet. Gramaphones Chamber Music album of the year. highly recommended !
Scott, and all,

Naxos does have at least one "sampler," which I have and enjoy. It is called "Ten Years of Success" and is available to get your feet wet with this label, if you are scared the water is too cold, (the water is fine IMHO.) It is Naxos 8.554103 and it doubles as a cd-rom and contains the entire catalogue on Adobe Acrobat. They can also be viewed on or

Thanks for the list. You da man. Charlie
Mes, you are too close to the truth in your post. I do have too much time on my hands -- since my job was eliminated about a month ago, I am home most of the day, and I have to get most of my professional satisfaction from making long, tedious posts on Audiogon. The best way to relieve the faithful readers of this site from my long-winded meanderings is to find me a job -- SOON! It's in your own best interest to stop me before I post again! So, if anyone needs a very experienced human resources exec, feel free to contact me. (I'll relocate at my own expense...)
Scott, once again you've done an amazing job at compiling some very useful information and presenting it in a manner that is both informative and extremely convenient. Kudos and MUCH applause as this type of post, complete with reference numbers, takes a LONG time to put together. THANK YOU.

Now for a few "dumb questions":

1) Is all of this stuff only available on CD or does Naxos also do vinyl ?

2) Are there any "convenient" sources to pick this stuff up from i.e. Amazon, CD Direct, Music Direct, etc.. ???

3) If i remember correctly, Naxos products are typically priced quite reasonably, correct ???

Thanks for taking the time to make such high quality contributions to this forum. They do not go un-noticed. Sean
Scott- Given the quality of your posts, I'm afraid most readers, myself inclusive, selfishly hope you don't get back to work all too soon :) That notwithstanding, good luck in your employment search, and once again, danke for the insiteful, meticulous, well thought out posts.
Hi, Sean:

To my knowledge, Naxos releases are available only on CD. Too bad -- I'd like to hear some of their better recordings on LP as well.

I have ordered Naxos releases online from Tower, although much of their stock on this label seems to be special order. If you have a Barnes & Noble bookstore nearby, they carry a fairly wide selection of Naxos recordings (my local B&N has about half of the composers in the Naxos catalog represented). (I haven't tried B&N online, but I'd bet you could also order Naxos CD's from them.)

Naxos releases have a MSRP of $6.99, although they are sometimes discounted to $5.99. At these prices, it's fun to experiment with material that you might avoid at $15-18 per CD.

As I said in my first post, I have purchased only a limited number of Naxos releases, although I intend to buy more based on my experience thus far. This week I bought a copy of the Joseph Martin Kraus release (#26 on the list above), and it's a superb recording in every way. Kraus was the major composer of the Swedish royal court, and a contemporary of Mozart, and the 4 pieces recorded on this CD (an overture, and 3 short symphonies) are wonderful. In addition, the recording quality is first-rate (infact, this recording would do credit to any of the major and/or audiophile labels, IMO). I highly recommend this CD if you like Baroque music.

The recording of Bruckner's Symphony #3 (#11 on list) is also very well done -- fine music, and an excellent recording, with good ambience and audio quality.

I also purchased the William Walton CD with his concertos for violin and for cello (#47 on list above). While I have limited taste for most 20th century classical music, I liked this CD a lot. Not too much dissonance, and very fine playing by both the soloists and the orchestras. Another Naxos that is worth acquiring, particularly if you don't have much knowledge of Walton's work.

A minor editorial comment: as audiophiles, we sometimes fall into the elitist trap of assuming that inexpensive means mediocre -- particularly where audio equipment is concerned. This logic sometimes applies as well to our biases about recording labels. It would be unfortunate not to try some of the better Naxos recordings, such as the ones on the list. Much to gain, little to lose, it seems to me....
hi. there are a lot of benefits when you susbscribe to naxos. they also have a lot of classical music. when i got to their site, it displays vast collections of people i don't think that they would have listed, but they're there. just check it out if you want to know more.
You can buy Naxos from

I have bought many CDs from these people and the service and prices are excellent, as is their intuitive search and indexing.