Making someone choose only 5 is tough but here is an assortment of disks which tend to stay fairly high on the playlist (presented in no particular order amongst themselves):
1) Benjamin Britten: Three Suites for Violoncello Solo (played by Peter Wispelwey) Channel Classics - #17102 (hybrid SACD version (means it has both an SACD and CD layer) but also available on CD)
2) Mussorgsky: Pictures At an Exhibition (piano - played by Evgeny Kissin) RCA - #63884
3) Bach: Goldberg Variations (piano - played by Glenn Gould). I prefer the 1981 recording to the earlier one and much prefer the SACD to the redbook. Others will certainly have other interpretations they prefer but the music itself is wonderful.
4) Chopin Etudes (piano) - I have been listening to Murray Perahia's new SACD (single layer SACD, Sony - #61885; CD also exists) but I also like Maurizio Pollini's interpretations. Check Audiogon archives for more recommendations of interpretations.
5) Prieres Sans Paroles: French Music for Trumpet and Organ (BIS - #1109). SACD (hybrid, I believe). Beautiful music.
Larger Scale Orchestral/Choral:
1) Verdi Requiem - I have a Eugene Ormandy-conducted version I like but you might want to check the archives.
2) Aaron Copland: Fanfare & Sympony #3, Minnesota Orch. conducted by Eiji Oue; Reference Records - #93
3) Mahler Symphony #6 (San Francisco Orchestra cond. by Michael Tilson Thomas) - hybrid SACD. SFO 821936-0001-2.
4) Mozart Requiem, by Netherlands Bach Society - hybrid SACD; Channel Classics #18102 - another great recording.
5) Arvo Part (several disks, among them: Orient Occident, De Profundis, Alina); on the Harmonia Mundi label mostly. You might try the used bins as people tend to be polar/absolutist (love/hate) on this composer.
as T_Bone has indicated, this is a tough one! in the last few months these discs seem to be occupying my player most:
(in no particular order)
1) The Cello Suites: Bach; Yo Yo Ma
2) Pasion: Piazolla, Turina, Penaforte, Villalobos; Eroica Trio
3) Dracula: Philip Glass; Kronos Quartet
4) Eight Seasons: Vivaldi, Piazolla; Gidon Kremer
5) Cantos de Espana: Albeniz; Alicia De Larrocha
6) String Quartet No. 8: Shostakovich; Emerson String Quartet
7) Symphonic Dances & Suites for Two Pianos: Rachminoff; Emanuel Ax & Yefim Bronfman
There is no accounting for taste, as I am about to demonstrate:
--Bach: Lute Suites (guitar transcription); John Williams.
--Mozart: Concerto No. 5, Sonata (K. 378), Quintet, (K. 516); Heifetz, Piatigorsky, Primrose.
--Beethoven, Symphony Nos. 5 & 7; Kleiber.
--Debussy: Chamber Music; Athena Ensemble.
--"Pavane--Ravel, Satie & Faure"; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
The Heifetz was out of print last I checked, so here's a substitute:
--Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 23; Uchida.
I'd love to give you some recommendations - do you have any composers whos style you like? Do you like orchestral, instrumental, small groups, choral. What have you liked so far? There is just too much to chose from for me to give meaningful recommendations.
Choosing five is a tough choice, but whether it be top three, top five, or top fifty, I would always place Jascha Heifetz playing both the Beethoven and the Brahms Violin Concertos on one CD, RCD 5402 as my top dog.
The next four to make a total of five are tough but I submit the following.
Beethoven Piano Concertos No. 3 & 4 by Murray Perahia and Bernard Haitink and the Cocertgebouw Orchestra CBS MK 39814 or Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, again with Murray Perahia and the same conductor and orchestra, CBS MK 42330.
Yo-Yo Ma, Great Cello Concertos (Dvorak * Elgar * Haydn * Saint-Saint * Schumann on two CD's CBS M2K 44562. If you're anxious or curious to hear Jacqueline du Pre play these same pieces, you can opt for her versions on EMI.
Brahms 4 Symphonies, Leonard Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic on 4 CD's DGG 415 570-2.
ARIA A Passion For Opera is a great compilation of famous arias sung by the best of the opera stars. It will whet your apetite into learning more about opera and delving deeper into the passion of listening to opera.
You will become an afficionado of the classics after listening to these starters. There is so much to enjoy. listening to the same pieces but with different performers will bring more joy as well as develop you into a critic, perhaps the hightest brow member of your crowd. How's that for a pun.
thanks for the recommendations. initially newbee, i was pretty much listening to chamber, but borrowed a cd of chesky's anniversary edition and was very impressed by rachmaninoff's piano concerto 2. i'm just a begginer, so cds bought were mostly "the world of...." from decca. i'm trying to get a copy of the goldberg variations, unfortunately, classical cds are rare in manila. i would also like suggestions for sonatas, especially violin. thanx to all...
I'm going to limit my recommendations to economy CD's as they are usually more readily available. Based on your enjoyment of the Rach PC#2, I would suggest you listen to his PC#3 and his Symphony #2. You would probably also enjoy Tchaikovsky and I suggest his PC1, his VC, and his Symphony #6 as good starting places. The Sibelius Symphony #2 is also highly recommended. For economy selections I enjoy Askenazy in the Rachmaninoff and Sibelius, and in the Tchaikovsky look for RCA recordings on Living Stereo or Mercury Living Presence (all reissued on CD).
For Violin Sonatas, if you haven't already tried them, Beethovens are by far the best place to start. 1st priority for be #5, the Spring and #9 the Kreutzer. The Archduke Trio is also excellent. Much to choose from but for economy discs I like Ashkenazy's.
You might also try some solo piano - I would suggest a great starting place would be Chopin's nocturnes, ballades, and sonatas - Bidet on Naxos is excellent. The Beethoven sonatas - Brendel is classic and his older recordings are better than his latter ones. Try Liszt Sonata in B - this is a big piece. Also try Debussy's preludes - Goode on Nonsuch if you can.
Enjoy, and come back to visit............
I'm very impressed by Vaughn Williams Symphony No.7 "Sinfonia Antartica" on the Naxos label.
-Verdi- Requiem both Deutsche Grammophon
-Shostakovich trio no 2 violin, cello, piano & Sonata for -cello and piano (Yo-Yo Ma, stern, Emanuel Ax (CBS records)
-A window in time Rachmaninoff- this is a modern reproducing piano reproduction of Rachmaninoff playing the piano- both his own work and that of others. While it (predictably, givin its production method) sounds rather mechanical, it is worth it if only for the idea it gives of both the skill of a highly regarded pianist and the insight into how he intended his own work to be played. (Telarc Digital 20bit cd-80489)
-Brandenburg Concerto's (Bach) -my prefered recording is an lp, but a good cd version should not be to hard to find.