100 Greatest Classical Music Works

So, following on from @Leggie’s Classical Music tips thread I thought it would be fun to put together a list of essential classical works and good representative recordings of each. People’s tastes, like their bottoms, are split down the middle (as they say here in Sweden) so of course both the compositions that should be on the list and the “best” recordings of each are open to endless debate.

However for the purpose of this exercise I have quite arbitrarily chosen this list, which at first blush looks like it covers all the obvious bases. So, working in reverse order I will try to maintain a cadence of 5 works/week for the next 20 weeks of

  • my personal favourites, or
  • absolutely “classic” performances regardless of recording quality, or
  • just damn good, performance or recording-wise or both

…recordings of these works that are available on Qobuz and I am asking all the classical fans here to contribute with your own suggestions.

Please let’s try to keep this on track so the thread remains easy to search, so please:

  • stick to this list whether you agree with it or not
  • only recommend recordings that are available on Qobuz
  • paste the Qobuz page for the album you are recommending

but also type in the essential details in text form for the benefit of our unsighted forum members who are reliant on text-to-speech engines

  • please stick to the order and only post for the current week (again, searchability)
  • if there is a composition not on the list or a recording not on Qobuz that you really really want to recommend please use Richard’s thread (link above) :+1:

@bauer @par @T38.45 @Urbanluthier @keiserrg (with apologies to everyone I’ve missed)

1 Like

Week 1 Nos. 96-100

96. The Creation (Die Schöpfung), Hob. XXI:2

Joseph Haydn Choral orchestral 1798 Play

No contest here. The Harnoncourt all the way!

Harnoncourt/Concentus Musicus Wien “Haydn: Die Schöpfung” 2003 16/44.1

97. The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Ballet 1889 Play

No Rozdestvensky on Qobuz unfortunately so I’ll go with Pletnev.

Pletnev/Russian National Orchestra “Tchaikovsky: The Sleeping Beauty” 1999 16/44.1

98. Symphony No. 7 in E Major (Lyric), WAB 107

Anton Bruckner Symphony 1883 Play

Despite having his recordings of the 5th and the 9th, Harnoncourt’s 7th is not available on Qobuz :exploding_head:, however Barenboim’s with the BPO on Warner Classics is so I’ll go with that.

Barenboim/Berliner Philharmoniker “Bruckner: Symphony No.7” 1993 16/44.1

99. Romeo and Juliet

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphonic Poem 1869 Play

A tough one but I’ll go with the Gatti/RPO.

Gatti/RPO “Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.5, Romeo & Juliet” 2005 16/44.1

100. Concerto for Orchestra, 116, BB 123

Béla Bartók Unsorted Orchestral 1943 Play

Here I will go safe with the Dorati on Mercury.

Dorati/Philharmonia Hungarica “Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra, Dance Suite, 2 Portraits” 1964 16/44.1

With a special shout out for the 1952 Van Beinum recording with the Concertgebouw (mono).

Van Beinum/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra “Bartók: Concerto pour Orchestre (Mono)” 1952 24/96

Phew! That was a lot more work than I expected. Wrestling with Qobuz search and then the circumnavigating the frustrating holes in their catalog. But ho hum!


this is a new level of recommendation :slight_smile:



Thanks Steve. Strangely the Cello Suites are not on the list (well, I guess cooking down the whole of classical to 100 works is hard) so this would be better posted in the Classical Music Tips thread.

1 Like

Deleted - not relevant to this thread

All great suggestions @Urbanluthier, but I didn’t intend this to be come a general discussion thread. Classical Music Tips please.

By the way, someone is bound to point it out so I might as well get it out there. I have been sheep-dipped in classical all my life thanks to my dear parents. Mostly despite a complete lack of interest (until about the age of 30) and subsequently increasingly willingly. So my recommendations will consist in no small part of recordings I heard before going up to University in 1984.

My father was a huge classical fan, avid Gramophone reader and disciple of the long defunct Penguin Guide so many of my recommendations probably originate from there. Don’t be surprised if you see plenty of Mercury Living Presence, RCA Living Stereo etc.

I would be absolutely delighted if our resident experts can recommend recent recordings with excellent performance and top notch SQ where I have much poorer insights!

If anybody here is interested in learning from this thread please post. It may encourage other classical fans to break cover and contribute. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with my recommendations :smirk:. The more the merrier!

1 Like

Bach. Goldberg Variations. Murray Perahia. Sony.
Bach. French Suites. Murray Perahia. DG
Bach. Brandenburg Concertos. Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini. Naive
Bach. The Well-Tempered Clavier I and II. Trevor Pinnock. DG
Bach. Mass in B minor. Gardiner. SDG
Bach. Motets. Gardiner. SDG
Bach. Cello suites. David Watkin. Resonus
Bach. Violin Concertos. Isabelle Faust. Harmonia Mundi
Bach. Sonatas and Partitas. Isabelle Faust. Harmonia Mundi
Bach. Keyboard Concerti. Francesco Corti. Pentatone


Phew! That was a lot more work than I expected.

Ha! And you know what you’re doing :slight_smile:

Just started on #100. Thank you for all the effort, @struts001, and for other people on their tips for which version to try of each of the 100.

For what it’s worth, I love the constraining nature of keeping this thread to just recordings of those 100 pieces. As soon as it turns into a broader “classical tips” thread it’s game over for me. Just way too out of my depth. Nothing like feeling stupid to scare me off!

I hope I get there one day, but it’d be amazing if this could be Training Wheels Thread for people like me.

1 Like

Week 2 Nos. 91-95

91. Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto 1786 Play

Easy peasy. Murray Perahia at his very best.

Perahia, English Chamber Orchestra “Mozart: Concertos No. 22 & 24 for Piano and Orchestra” 1980 16/44.1

92. Requiem in D Minor, K. 626

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Mass / Requiem 1791 Play

My preference is period instruments so I’ll go with Linn Records’ fantastic set by the Dunedin Consort under John Butt. To understand how the sound differs from that of modern instruments contrast with, for instance, Abbado.

Dunedin Consort, Butt “Mozart: Requiem (Reconstruction of first performance)” 2014 24/96

Berliner Philharmoniker, Abbado “Mozart: Requiem (Live)” 1999 16/44.1

93. Missa Papae Marcelli

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Mass / Requiem Play

David Hill and the Westminster Cathedral Choir thank you.

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Hill “Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli & Missa Brevis” 1988 16/44.1

94. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, WWV 96

Richard Wagner Opera 1867 Play

Unfortunately a full recording of the Kempe (widely regarded as the ‘definitive’ performance) doesn’t appear to be available on Qobuz currently so I will have to be a tiny bit boring and go with Solti. I vastly prefer his second recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra over his earlier recording with the VPO. Interestingly this is the only Wagner opera Solti has recorded twice.

Staatskapelle Dresden, Kempe "Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Excerpts (Mono Version) 1963 24/96

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Solti “Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” 1997 16/44.1

95. Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony 1788 Play

Ridiculous amount of choice here but despite having a general preference for period performance (where my choice is Mackerras with the SCO) I will always have a soft spot for the Bernstein recordings of the late symphonies with the VPO. Very special.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mackerras “Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 38-41” 2008 24/88.2

Wiener Philharmoniker, Bernstein “Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 39 & 40” 1984 16/44.1


I will just remark that if operas are unfamiliar to readers that will remain so if the narrative is not understood. So reading the libretto is essential whilst listening ( at least for the first time).

Although Qobuz provides e.g. CD booklets, none is available there for this Solti recording. I was going to post a link to an online version. Sadly the one I could locate had a pretty duff English translation.

1 Like

This thread isn’t about me, but in the hope that my notes might nudge others to take part as either fledgling classical listeners (people like me, @barryr1 and @Leggie) or seasoned converts (hello Pete, @Urbanluthier @Bauer @T38.45 @keiserrg @XCop @ChrisK @August and all sorts of others I’ll feel shitty for leaving out) I’ll paste my own notes on the first five (100–96) below.

Massive thanks to @struts001 for their work pulling together something classical AND digestible for the first time for me :pray:

Ok, here are my (no longer) private ramblings:

100 (Bartok Concerto for orchestra 116) I’d gobble down more of this. Enjoyed the changes of scale. I probably recognised a full 0% on second listen, but can imagine that after three or four goes I might be delighting in knowing what’s coming in at least a few spots. Hardly felt predictable, though, which may be part of what’s attractive when I listen to my normal fare. (Nice recording.)

99 (Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet) Nice enough, but my interest wandered a lot. Pretty etc., but a bit backgroundy. Felt like I’d heard it a million times before. Finale set the dog off something shocking :joy: Overall: meh. (Liked bits of the Fantasy Overture at the end, though.)

98 (Bruckner symphony no.7) This went down really easily — particularly enjoyed the adagio with its gentle wafting. The only section I didn’t like was the scherzo.

97 (Sleeping beauty op 66) Enjoyed this a lot. Hardly a detailed review, but I know I will come back to this.

96 (Haydn: Die Schöpfung) This was ok in parts. Decidedly not a fan of the sections with a shouty man over the top. This feels like a well executed version of something that just may not be my taste. Second time through I was even less keen.


Week 3 Nos. 86-90

86. La traviata

Giuseppe Verdi Opera 1853 Play

My first choice here would be Solti. Not because I am a Solti fanboy (which I am) but primarily for Angela Gheorghiu’s stunning Violetta. Unfortunately only the highlights are available on Qobuz. For a full version I would recommend Rizzi’s 2005 recording with Anna Netrebko.

Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Solti “Verdi: La Traviata” 1996 16/44.1

Wiener Philharmoniker, Rizzi “Verdi: La Traviata” 2005 16/44.1

87. Carmen

Georges Bizet Opera 1874 Play

Carmen is easy, look no further than Michel Plasson’s recording, again with the incomparable Gheorghiu. I know some will say that this is one of the classical mezzo soprano roles so why go for a version sung by a soprano, but with a voice this beautiful I’m past caring.

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Plasson “Bizet: Carmen” 2003 16/44.1

88. Scheherazade, Op. 35

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Unsorted Orchestral 1888 Play

Easy to go with a classic here. Fritz Reiner and the Chicago SO treating us to one of their finest outings ever on RCA Victor Red Seal. The finale was apparently recorded in a single take. Excellent recording.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Reiner “Rimsky-Korsakov: Schéhérezade, Op. 35 & Stravinsky: Le chant du rossignol” 1960 24/88.2

89. The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), K. 620

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Opera 1791 Play

A little bit spoilt for choice here. There are so many recordings I love of this most favourite of operas but I will focus on two.

Firstly my father’s favourite and possibly one of his most played discs, the 1964 recording with Karl Böhm. Try to ignore the slightly uneven female cast and delight in the Tamino of Fritz Wünderlich, one of the most beautiful voices of the last century.

But my preference is period recording and here I am torn between William Christie and René Jacobs. I’ll go with Christie as a “safer” choice, although I suspect Jacobs’ quirky theatrical devices would have absolutely delighted the composer himself.

Okay, that was three. Damn!

Berliner Philharmoniker, Böhm “Mozart: Die Zauberflöte” 1964 24/96

Les Arts Florissants, Christie “Mozart: Die Zauberflöte” 1996 16/44.1

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Rias Kammarkör, Jacobs “Mozart: Die Zauberflöte” 2010 24/44.1

90. Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto 1785 Play

This one’s a treat, Ben. The “Elvira Madigan”, oaky chard at its very finest!

It would be easy to go with Perahia again here but this is a rare case where I think he has been outshone. Robert Casadesus’ reading with members of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell is an absolute classic. The slow movement, surely one of Mozart’s most beautiful melodies, is absolutely sublime and the 1965 Columbia recording, now lovingly remastered in hi res digital, is absolutely incandescent. If there is a heaven this is what they play there!

Casadesus, Members of the Cleveland Orchestra, Szell “Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 21 & 24 (Remastered)” 1965 24/192


Week 4 Nos. 81-85

81. Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose), Op. 59

Richard Strauss Opera 1911 Play

I find the classic Karajan recording from 1956 an easy recommendation. This is arguably one of his greatest opera recordings and the cast is outstanding, crowned by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf’s peerless Marschallin. Would love to hear if others here have any more recent favourites.

Philharmonia Orchestra, Karajan “Strauss R: Der Rosenkavalier (2017 Remastered)” 24/96

82. Appalachian Spring

Aaron Copland Unsorted Orchestral 1944 Play

My father was sold on the Tilson Thomas recording of the version for full orchestra (this is normally a chamber piece). Consequently this is the one I have heard and fallen in love with.

San Francisco SO, Tilson Thomas “Copland: Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Romero” 1999 16/44.1

A more recent favourite is Eiji Oue with the Minnesota Orchestra expertly captured by Keith O. Johnson on Reference Recordings.

Minnesota Orchestra, Oue “Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man, Appalachian Spring & Symphony No.3” 2000 16/44.1

83. Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata 1822 Play

How to pick from an almost impossibly wide field? Schnabel from the mono era or any of the classic stereo readings by Kempff, Kovacevich or Goode? No, in this case I’ll go with Cristoph Eschenbach’s 1979 EMI recording (the coupled Hammerklavier is a treat too). The remastered sound is a big improvement over the original bargain priced CD.

Eschenbach “Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 29 - 32 & 6 Bagatelles”

84. Boris Godunov

Modest Mussorgsky Opera 1873 Play

Not a piece I am very familiar with so I will fall back on the Penguin Guide recommendation of the Gergiev recording with the Kirov Opera and Orchestra on Philips.

Kirov Opera & Orchestra, Gergiev “Moussorgsky: Boris Godunov (1869 & 1872 Versions)” 1998 16/44.1

85. Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90

Johannes Brahms Symphony 1883 Play

Hard to overlook all the classic Karajan readings of these symphonies with the BPO (take your pick between the 1964 and the 1978) but I will resist the temptation and go with Claudio Abbado’s more recent digital set.

Berliner Philharmoniker, Abbado “Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Tragic Overture, Song of Destiny” 1990 16/44.1


Week 5 Nos. 76-80

76. Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47

Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony 1937 Play

A close run thing but in this case I’ll side with the Gramophone recommendation of Sanderling with the Berliner Symphonie-Orchester over the Penguin Guide favourite of the classic Previn set with the LSO on RCA.

Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester, Sanderling “Shostakovich Symphony No.5” 2016, 24/192

77. String Quintet No. 4 in G Minor, K. 516

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quintet 1787 Play

Ben, note the key! :wink:

The G minor quintet is not exactly over-represented in the catalog making the Philips set led by Arthur Grumiaux an easy pick. However it is unfortunately not available on Qobuz (although it is on Tidal on a compilation entitled “Mozart for Morning Meditation”) so for the Qobuz-only crew I’ll go with the recent recording by Quatuor Ébène with Antoine Tamestit. Cool, a new acquaintance!

Arthur Grumiaux et al “Mozart for Morning Meditation” 1998, Tidal 16/44.1

Quatour Ébène, Tamestit “Mozart: String Quintets K. 515 & 516” 2023, Qobuz 24/96

78. Parsifal, WWV 111

Richard Wagner Opera 1882 Play

Perfect time of year to listen to Wagner’s last great opera with its Easter theme. It was one of my father’s favourites and he had several recordings. The Karajan recording, released in my early teens was the one I remember him playing by far the most, although he would sometimes mix it up and play Knappertsbusch’s 1962 Bayreuth set. How to choose? If you’re only going to listen to one I would go with the Knappertsbusch, not least because of the recent remastering to hi res digital. But these are both very special sets.

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan “Wagner: Parsifal” 1981, 16/44.1

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Knappertsbusch “Wagner: Parsifal” 1962, 24/96

79. Finlandia, Op. 26

Jean Sibelius Unsorted Orchestral 1900 Play

Karajan loves Sibelius and is the safe pick here (and the one I have listened to most) but I I’ll go for Finnish “authentiticty” (and a bit of Swedish pride) and give the nod to Neeme Jäärvi’s latest outing with the Gothenburg Symphony on DG.

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan “Sibelius: Violin Concerto; Finlandia; Tapiola” 1965, 24/192

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Jäärvi “Sibelius: Finlandia; Luonnotar; Karelia Suite” 1996, 16/44.1

80. Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Op. 40

Richard Strauss Symphonic Poem 1898 Play

Karajan is again an obvious choice here (is this getting boring?) but which version to choose? A bit of research turns up the fact that he recorded Ein Heldenleben no less than 7 times between 1958 and 1985 and navigating all the various releases is a bit of a minefield (especially as the early digital sound of the 1985 recording was horrible, happily remastered for the GOLD edition). Here I am torn between his 1959 DG recording (now remastered in hi res digital) and his 1985 DG DDD set (also remastered), both with the BPO.

However, Eiji Oue again manages to sneak in and snatch it from under Karajan’s nose thanks to fantastic playing by the Minnesota Orchestra and the usual demonstration level SQ from Keith O. Johnson at Reference Recordings.

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan “Strauss R.: “Ein Heldenleben; Wagner: Siegfried Idyll” 1959, 24/96

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan “Strauss R.: “Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40, Tod und Verklärung” 1985, 16/44.1

Minnesota Orchester, Oue “Strauss R.: “Ein Heldenleben, Interludes from Die Frau Ohne Schatten” 1998 16/44.1


Amazing. Thank you so bloody much, @struts001 :pray:

Week 6 Nos. 71-75

71. Polonaise in A-flat Major (Heroic), Op. 53

47 Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata 1842 Play

Ashkenazy at his best. There would normally be no need to look any further but I know you want to! And in this case there’s a great reason to, Rafal Blechacz’s deeply emotional reading in a pristine new hi res digital recording from DG. What a treat!

Ashkenazy “Chopin: Polonaises” 1985, 16/44.1

Blechacz “Chopin: Polonaises” 2013, 24/96

72. Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)

661 Gustav Mahler Symphony 1894 Play

Definitely the right time of year to be listening to Mahler’s “Resurrection”. I have to side with Gramophone here and go with Vladimir Jurowski’s thrilling account with the LPO. I prefer this to either of the deservedly popular Rattle accounts with the BPO and the CBSO. For SQ don’t overlook Channel Classics and the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer.

London Philharmonic Orchetsra, Jurowski “Mahler: Symphony No.2” 2011, 16/44.1

Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer “Mahler: Symphony No.2” 2006, 16/44.1

73. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58

30 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Concerto 1806 Play

One of the benefits of the streaming era is that recordings which had very spotty availability in the LP and CD eras magically resurrect. A great example of this is the Hans Richter-Haaser recordings of the Beethoven Piano Sonatas, the original early 60s Testament LPs of which were among my father’s most prized possessions and which afaik were never re-released on CD. For a more modern recording try (another patriotic vote here) Maria João Pires with Daniel Harding leading the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Richter-Haaser, Philharmonia Orchestra, Kertész “Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58 & Rondo, Op. 51 No. 2” 196 16/44.1

João-Pires, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Harding “Beethoven: Piano Concerto Nos. 3 & 4” 2014, 16/44.1

74. Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93

34 Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony 1953 Play

Karajan has recorded this twice, although only his later 1982 DG recording is available on Qobuz. However this version from Praga Digitals seems to be a hi res remastering of his 1978 DG set which I preferred (as far as I can remember at least, the Qobuz metadata is not very helpful and unfortunately this was one of the CDs I didn’t rip before putting them all in storage). For a more recent recording check out Haitink with the LPO beautifully captured by the BBC at the Royal Albert Hall.

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan “Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93” 1982, 16/44.1

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan “Beethoven: Symphony No. 5; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10” 1978(?) 24/96

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Haitink “Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10” 2008, 16/44.1

75. String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132

426 Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet 1825 Play

Bit of a toss-up here between the ever-excellent Lindsays on ASV or the equally polished Alban Berg on EMI. I’ll let you choose. For the “definitive” recording of these works check out the classic pre-war mono recording by the Busch Quartet from HMV.

The Lindsays “Beethoven: String Quartets Nos. 14 & 15” 2003, 16/44.1

Alban Berg Quartett “Beethoven: String Quartets Nos. 14 & 15” 1994, 16/44.1

Busch Quartet “Beethoven: “The Late String Quartets” 1937, 16/44.1

1 Like

thanks for all the great suggestions, @struts001 . Plenty of food for my listening sessions.
Richter-Haaser is spelled with two a. Hasser would be ‘he who hates’

1 Like