Originally Posted by josephmckinney
I'ld like to get at least 1 blues, 1 jazz and 1 classical album in the mix.
Recommending exactly one album in a favorite genre is tough, of course. Maybe that has discouraged our local classical expert, Kal Rubinson, from even trying to reply. I'll suggest four. To my ears, the sound is sterling on all of these. (I don't have that many multichannel, 5.0 or 5.1, classical albums yet. As I order more, it will get more difficult to respond to a question like this.) The first three are on SACD.
1. Beethoven, Symphony #9, Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vanska (BIS)
if you're looking for an intense and original performance of a masterpiece that most people have heard at least parts of (used in everything from breakfast cereal commercials to the movie Clockwork Orange)
2. Bruckner, Symphony #3, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Kent Nagano (Harmonia Mundi)
Makes the utmost use of the brass section of the orchestra, and, even more than other Bruckner symphonies, features transitions with giant dynamic range (soft - LOUDD - soft ). This original version of the symphony contains quotations from Bruckner's musical idol, Richard Wagner.
3. Mahler, Symphony #4, San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (on the San Francisco Symphony label)
This symphony is perhaps the best introduction to this late 19th / early 20th century composer. The first movement has a somewhat neo-classical feel, features unusual instruments such as sleigh bells (Mahler liked to do that), and contains a quote from a Simon and Garfunkel song (or maybe it's the other way around
). The last movement is a song that provides a humorous look at "life in Heaven".
4. Rachmaninov, Piano Concertos #2 and #3, Konstantin Scherbakov, Russian State Symph. Orch., Dmitry Yablonsky (Naxos)
(available on both SACD and DVD-A)
Naxos is a budget label with some multichannel classical releases, many with topnotch sound such as this one. Two of the most popular late romantic era piano concertos; the theme of the popular song "Full moon and empty arms" comes from the middle movement of #2. The performance brings out the lyrical rather than showpiece side of the music; the piano and orchestra are blended together in a very well-balanced "mix".