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 Recording of the Week  2012 Goodbyes and Discs of the Year

As 2012 draws towards a close I thought I’d take the opportunity this week to reflect a little on the year gone by. It has been another great year for new releases and a year of cheaper and cheaper bargains in the re-packaged boxed set market, but also a year when we seem to have said goodbye to a greater number of musicians and composers than usual.

The most recent of these was the British composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, who produced more than 200 concert pieces, ballets and operas, was at home both in the concert hall and on the cabaret stage, but was best known for film and TV scores, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Murder on the Orient Express and Doctor Who. Sir Richard won a Bafta and was three times nominated for an Oscar. He died peacefully on Christmas Eve in New York, where he had lived for more than 20 years.

As a tribute to some of the musicians and composers who died in 2012, enhancing our lives and giving us so much joy through their talent and artistry, we’ve put together a short video slideshow acting as both a reminder and a chance to reflect. It is accompanied by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (himself one of those we say goodbye to) singing Schubert's moving song Aller Seelen, D343. You can view the video tribute here – we hope you like it. And sincere thanks to EMI for granting us permission to use this wonderful recording.

On a more upbeat note, 2012 also brought us a tremendous wealth of new releases – at least on par with recent years – and at a time when the world economy is in a difficult position, that is no small achievement, and credit must go out to the record labels and artists who work so hard to bring us such gems. Here at Presto we’ve picked what we consider our 100 best titles of the year, and negotiated special prices on them for a limited period.

Looking at the list essentially after we’d picked them it is pleasing to see a real spread of eras, genres, and types of recordings. The wide variety of eras represented ranges from early music of composers like Byrd, Victoria and Mouton (a French Renaissance composer who was new to me this year), through to Contemporary music from composers like Thomas Adès and Einojuhani Rautavaara (whose Second Cello Concerto stunningly played by Truls Mørk was one of my discoveries of the year).

When recording popular works you have to have something genuinely new to say, and that has been the case with a number of recordings this year, including in particular Andreas Staier’s terrific fortepiano recording of Beethoven’s 'Diabelli Variations', and Paul McCreesh’s magnificent Mendelssohn Elijah.

There have also been a number of slightly neglected works by well-known composers which have enjoyed something of a renaissance this year through tremendous new recordings – in particular Valery Gergiev and the LSO’s recordings of the first three Tchaikovsky Symphonies, as well as Vasily Petrenko’s ongoing Shostakovich Symphony cycle on Naxos.

Anyway we’ve listed a notional ‘top 10’ below, and you can explore all 100 of them from our Best of 2012 Special offer page here, and with discounts of up to 30% it is a good time to pick up any you missed.

Wishing you a very happy last day of 2012 and a musically fulfilling 2013.