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Awards, Discs of the Year

We've reached that time of the year when new releases now take a few weeks off and we have a little time to think back about some of the really great CDs that have come out this year.

BBC Radio 3's CD Review this week split from their usual format to focus on their 15 discs of the year as chosen by three of their regular critics - Harriet Smith, Stephen Johnson and Simon Heighes. It made interesting listening as they were also in the studio to justify their decisions and argue with each other about the relative merits (or not) of the various recordings. If you missed it you can listen again until next friday (21st December) via their listen again feature.

The selection they chose is a nice balance between the fairly predictable (eg. the Isserlis Bach and the von Otter Terezin), the really good discs which have maybe been slightly forgotten about (eg. the Jonathan Biss Schumann and the Dausgaard Nielsen) and the discs which in my view shouldn't really be there at all (eg. the Kozena Handel, and the Hayes Orchestral Works). But that is I suppose the joy of the Classical record industry - the things which one person likes about a recording can be the very same things which someone else hates!

There is another selection of discs of the year coming up on Wednesday when the BBC Music Magazine announce their shortlist fighting for their overall records of the year. It will go live on our website Wednesday morning and I'll tell you more about it (including how you can vote for your favourite) in next week's newsletter.

In the meantime please find below a few of my favourites from the past year which I'm sure I'll be listening to over the Christmas holidays and for many years to come.

A stunning disc. For me Padmore's voice is the ideal for Handel - such purity of tone with long perfectly shaped musical lines.

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC

I can't mention Beethoven Piano Sonatas without also mentioning Paul Lewis. The penultimate volume of his cycle came out this autumn and when complete next year think it could well become the set to have.

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC

Alexandre Tharaud (piano)

Couperin on the piano is I know slightly controversial in some circles, but Tharaud's sheer artistry wins out.

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC

Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

Uplifting - pure joy.

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Richard Tunnicliffe, Avison Ensemble (on period instruments)

Hugely enjoyable. Where have these pieces been? Every cellist would want to know these.

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, FLAC