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Live in Studio 4A
Our showcase for artists invited to perform on the program and talk about their music
The PT 50
Our list of 50 essential classical CDs
Piano Puzzlers
Bruce Adolphe's "name that composer" piano quiz
 
 
 
The PT 50
PT presents its list of 50 essential classical music CDs, selected by Ted Libbey, our NPR Basic Record Library curator. Below is the most recently aired entry; further down is the entire list.

View a printer-friendly PT 50 page


The PT 50
(in order of airdate)

1
Beethoven | Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Vienna Philharmonic
Carlos Kleiber, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 447 400-2
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(with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92)


2
Tchaikovsky | Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23
Van Cliburn, piano
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, Kiril Kondrashin, conductor
RCA Victor 078635055912
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(with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner, conductor)


3
Dvorák | Cello Concerto in B minor Op. 104
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 447 413-2
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(with Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme Op. 33)


4
Handel | Water Music Suites
English Baroque Soloists
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
UNI/Philips 464706
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(with Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks")


5
Chopin | Ballades and Scherzi
Arthur Rubinstein, piano
The Rubinstein Collection, Vol. 45
BMG/RCA Victor 63045-2
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(with the Tarantelle, Op. 43)


6
Bernstein | West Side Story
Original Broadway Cast Recording
Sony SK 60724 (Columbia Broadway Masterworks)
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7
Haydn | "London" Symphonies
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
UNI/Philips 464707
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(The 6 "Name" Symphonies from the "London" Symphonies (2 CDs))


8
Debussy | Piano Preludes, Books I & II
Paul Jacobs, piano

Elektra/Asylum 79474
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9
Wagner | Overtures and Preludes
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Teldec 4509 99595 2
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10
Beethoven | Piano Sonatas
Nos. 21 "Waldstein", 23 "Appassionata" & 26 "Les Adieux"

Emil Gilels, piano
Deutsche Grammophon 419 162-2
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11
J.S. Bach | Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 - 6
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Harmonia Mundi HMX 2901634.35 (2-CD set)
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12
Handel | Messiah
English Baroque Soloists/Monteverdi Choir
Marshall/Robbin/Brett/Rolfe-Johnson etc.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
Philips 434297 (2-CD set)
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13
Sibelius | Symphonies 5 & 7
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
Philips 289 464 740-2
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14
Holst | The Planets, Op. 32
Philharmonia Orchestra / The Monteverdi Choir
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 445 860-2
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(with Grainger's "The Warriors")


15
Schubert | String Quintet in C, D. 956
Emerson String Quartet
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello
Deutsche Grammophon 431 792-2
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16
Vivaldi | The Four Seasons
Giuliano Carmignola, baroque violin
Venice Baroque Orchestra, Andrea Marcon, Music Director
Sony Classical SK 51352
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17
Copland | Appalachian Spring (complete ballet)
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Copland the Populist -- RCA 09026-63511-2
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(with Rodeo and Billy the Kid)


18
Vladimir Horowitz: The Historic Return
Carnegie Hall 1965

Sony Classical 53461
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(with Horowitz's 1966 Concerts)


19
Shostakovich | Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
New York Philharmonic
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
Sony Classical 61841
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(with Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70)


20
Mozart | The Magic Flute
Berlin Philharmonic, RIAS Chamber Chorus
Lear/Peters/Otto/Wunderlich
Fischer-Dieskau/Crass/Hotter
Karl Böhm, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 449 749-2 (2-CD set)
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21
Brahms | Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Vienna Philharmonic
Carlos Kleiber, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 457 706-2
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22
Josquin | Missa Pange Lingua
The Tallis Scholars
Peter Phillips, director
Gimell CDGIM009
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23
Stravinsky | The Rite of Spring
Kirov Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, conductor
Philips 289 468 035-2PH
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24
Beethoven | The String Quartets
Emerson String Quartet
Deutsche Grammophon 447 075-2
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25
Mahler | Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection"
The New York Philharmonic
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
Polygram 423395
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26
Adams | "The Chairman Dances"
San Francisco Symphony
Edo de Waart, conductor
Nonesuch 79144
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27
J.S. Bach | "Goldberg" Variations, BWV 988
Murray Perahia, piano
Sony Classical SK/SM 89243
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28
Elgar | Cello Concerto and Sea Pictures
Jacqueline du Pré, cello; Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir John Barbirolli, conductor
EMI CDC 556219 2
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29
Orff | Carmina Burana
Janowitz/Stolze/Fischer-Dieskau
Schöneberger Sängerknaben
Chor und Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Eugen Jochum, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 447 437-2
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30
Tchaikovsky | Symphonies 4, 5 & 6
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Evgeny Mravinsky, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 419 745-2
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31
Prokofiev | Romeo & Juliet
The Cleveland Orchestra
Lorin Maazel, conductor
Decca 452970
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32
R. Strauss | Four Last Songs for voice & orchestra, AV 150
Jessye Norman, soprano
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Kurt Masur, conductor
Philips 464742
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(with Wagner's Wesendonk Lieder)


33
Brahms | Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
New York Philharmonic
Kurt Masur, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 457 075-2
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(with R. Schumann's Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in C major op. 131)


34
J.S. Bach | Mass in B minor, BWV 232
Collegium Vocale / La Chapelle Royale
Phillipe Herreweghe, conductor
Harmonia Mundi HMX 2908110.12
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(with Bach's Magnifcat)


35
Debussy | La Mer
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Munch, conductor
RCA Victor 61500
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(with Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 "Organ" and Ibert's Escales)


36
Bartók | Concerto for Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conductor
RCA Victor 61504
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37
Puccini | La Bohème
de los Angeles/Björling/Corena/Merrill/Tozzi
The Columbus Boychoir
RCA Victor Chorus & Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham
EMI Classics 7243 567750 2 (2CD)
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38
Brahms | A German Requiem
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra
Otto Klemperer, conductor
EMI Classics 7243 566903 2 5
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39
Ravel | Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Jean Martinon, conductor
RCA 63683
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(with Ravel's Rhapsodie espagnole, Miroirs, at al.)


40
Dvorák | Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World"
London Symphony Orchestra
István Kertész, conductor
Penguin Classics 460604
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41
Verdi | Messa da Requiem
Schwarzkopf/Ludwig/Gedda/Ghiaurov
Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
EMI CMS 5 67560 2
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(with Quattro pezzi sacri)


42
Gershwin | Rhapsody in Blue
Leonard Bernstein, piano/conductor
Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Sony Classical 42264
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(with Gershwin's An American in Paris and Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite)


43
Monteverdi | Vespro della Beata Vergine
Monoyios/Pennicchi/Chance/Tucker/Robson/Naglia/Terfel/Miles
Monteverdi Choir/London Oratory Junior Choir/
His Majesties Sagbutts & Cornetts/English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
Archiv 429 565
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44
Mozart | Piano Concertos Nos. 6, 17 & 21
Géza Anda, piano/conductor
Camerata Academica of Salzburg
Deutsche Grammophon 447 436-2
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45
Dowland | Complete Lute Works, Volume 3
Paul O'Dette, lute
Harmonia Mundi 907162
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46
Schubert | Winterreise
Thomas Quasthoff, bass-baritone
Charles Spencer, piano
RCA 09026 63147 2
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47
Berlioz | Symphonie Fantastique
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
LSO LIVE #7
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48
Mendelssohn | A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture Op.21 & Incidental Music Op.61 / Symphony No. 3 "Scottish"
London Symphony Orchestra
Jenifer Vyvyan, soprano
Marion Lowe, soprano
Peter Maag, conductor
Decca Legends 466 990
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49
Liszt | Sonata, Ballades and Polonaises
Stephen Hough, piano
Hyperion 67085
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50
Mozart | Symphonies Nos. 35-41
Berlin Philharmonic
Karl Böhm, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 447 416-2
Real Audio | Windows Media
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