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Recommended Recordings

Having a collection of recordings for study and inspiration is an essential part of any classical musician's education. Below is a list of recordings that are famous in the classical music world for their excellence. 


You will notice that I do not list bassoon recordings here. I feel there is more to learn from the great pianists, singers and string players who have a repertoire that is much richer than ours.


Chamber Music:

  • Beethoven String Quartets; Guarneri Quartet, RCA

  • Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time; Tashi; RCA

  • Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartets; Borodin Quartet; EMI



  • Mozart: The Magic Flute; Bohm, Berlin Philharmonic; Deutsche Grammophon

  • Puccini: Tosca ; Callas, DeStefano, DeSabata; EMI (one of the most famous opera recordings ever made)

  • Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier; Schwarzkopf, von Karajan: EMI

  • Wagner: Tristan; Furtwangler, Philharmonia Orchestra; EMI (also one that stands out)



  • Beethoven; Symphonies; George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Beethoven: The Five Piano Concerti; Leon Fleischer, Szell, Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Brahms: 4 Symphonies; Szell, Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Haydn: Symphonies; Szell, Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Mendelssohn: Italian Symphony (#4); Szell, Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Mozart: Symphonies 35-41; Szell, Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Reiner, Chicago Symphony; RCA (one of the most famous orchestral recordings ever made!)

  • Rossini: Overtures; Szell, Cleveland Orchestra, Sony

  • Schumann: Symphonies; Szell, Cleveland Orchestra; Sony

  • Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 4-6; Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra; Sony



  • Horowitz: Live at Carnegie Hall; Sony

  • Maurizio Pollini: Stravinsky Petrouchka, Prokofiev Sonate No. 7 (the Stravinsky and Prokofiev are cult classics amongst pianists)



  • Bach: 6 Suites for Solo Cello; Yo-Yo Ma, Sony Records

  • Bach: 6 Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin; Nathan Milstein, Deutsche Grammophon

  • The Essential David Oistrakh (Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Shostakovich), violin; RCA/BMG

  • Schumann Cello Concerto; Yo-Yo Ma, Sony

  • Nathan Milstein Library of Congress Recital: Beethoven, Brahms, Bach; Bridge

  • Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn Concerti, Jascha Heifetz, violin; RCA

  • Sibelius, Prokofiev, Glazunov Concerti, Jascha Heifetz, violin; RCA



  • Cecilia Bartoli: Rossini Arias; Decca

  • Jussi Bjoerling: Studio Recordings 1930-1959; EMI

  • Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings; Pears, Brain, Britten; Decca

  • Maria Callas: Verdi Arias; EMI

  • Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Mahler Songs; EMI

  • Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: any Schubert Songs; EMI or DGG

  • Renee Fleming: The Beautiful Voice; Decca

  • Lauritz Melchior: Wagner Arias; RCA 

  • Rosa Ponselle: Prima Voce Series, Vol.2; Nimbus 

  • Leontyne Price: Verdi and Puccini Arias; RCA (the "Blue Album")

  • Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: Strauss 4 Last Songs; Szell, London, EMI

  • Bryn Terfel: The Vagabond, Songs by Vaughan Williams; Deutsche Grammophon

  • Fritz Wunderlich: Schumann Dichterliebe; DGG


Where to start:

If many of these recordings are new to you, I would suggest starting with some real basics:

  • Bach Cello Suites

  • Beethoven Symphonies

  • Brahms Symphonies

  • Tchaikovsky Symphonies


Which Artists?

  • Fischer-Dieskau for just about everything: interpretation, phrasing, pacing

  • Bjoerling and Wunderlich for the sheer joy of singing in their voices

  • Callas for dramatic performances

  • Callas, Heifetz and Horowitz were all performers that exceeded the boundaries of their voice/instruments. 

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