The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: BBC Music Magazine names the Top 50 greatest classical music recordings ever made. How many have you heard? Or do you own?

January 8, 2012
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

What are the 50 greatest – I assume that is not the same as the most important — classical recordings ever made?

And how many of them have you heard?

Or do you own?

That list has been compiled by the BBC Music Magazine (below) for its January 2012 issue.

Here is a link to the names and titles, given in descending order a la David Letterman and various other countdowns:

http://wpr.org/music/BBC-Music-Top-50-1201.htm

A lot of the choices make great sense.

For example, the first complete recording of Wagner’s titanic “Ring” cycle by George Solti is a drama behind the drama. 

Who could argue, for example, with Pablo Casals’ pioneering recording of Bach’s six solo suites for cello (below)? After all, it was Casals who discovered them and then restored them to the repertoire as music when many people thought of them as mere exercises.

 

And who could argue with including Artur Schnabel’s first-ever cycle of the complete 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven (below) — though what about his championing the neglected piano sonatas of Schubert?

But why is there nothing by pianist Artur Rubinstein (below), who was quite the pioneering pianist when it came to recording complete Chopin works and other composers from early in the 20th century though the 1970s? Do they really think Claudio Arrau’s version of Chopin’s Nocturnes is greater than Rubinstein’s? Could it had ego do with a European label versus an American label? Are the BBC critics subject to geographical, national or cultural bias?

Anyway, you can make your own judgments.

What recordings of the BBC Top 50 do you most agree with?

And what recordings do you think belonged on the list but were overlooked or left off it?

The Ear wants to hear.

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