Best Classical CDs of 2006, from WGBH

Brian McCreath is host of Classical Weekend — a mix of recorded classical music, live performances, interviews and news — on Boston-based NPR station WGBH. Here, he compiles a list of the five best classical CDs to emerge this year, ranging from the complete Mozart to the works of contemporary composer Paul Moravec.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Complete Works hide caption

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Celebrate Mozart's 250th birthday with what has to be one of the most amazing deals ever to be produced on CD: all of Mozart's works, in generally excellent performances, efficiently packaged in a foot-long box and available at a bargain price of $150. That's less than a dollar per disc!

2. Paul Moravec

Moravec

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Paul Moravec, the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for music, collaborated with crack new music ensemble eighth blackbird to create a riveting, fascinating, and downright fun exploration of time and our relationship to it.

3. John Eliot Gardiner

Bach

John Eliot Gardiner: Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 15 hide caption

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In 2000, John Eliot Gardiner took his ensembles across Europe and to New York, performing all of Bach's surviving sacred cantatas in one year, and those performances are being released gradually as beautifully packaged discs with highly personal notes from that pilgrimage. Vol. 15, the latest, features Christmas works, and, like all of these recordings, breathes into this repertoire life, urgency, and beauty.

4. Jordi Savall/Hesperion XXI

Savall

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Savall has been an inveterate explorer of early music for a few decades now, and this recording shows his work at its best. Taking on a multinational cross-section of 16th- to 18th-century small pieces, the group infuses the performances with the improvisatory energy of a small jazz combo.

5. Dawn Upshaw

Golijov

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With its multicultural roots and genre-busting sound world, the music of Osvaldo Golijov seems to many to reflect the world as it is today. Ayre, a song cycle inspired by Luciano Berio's Folk Songs, serves as a great way to introduce yourself to that fascinating sound world. For more of a deep-end plunge, try the gripping recent recording of Golijov's opera Ainadamar.

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Complete Works

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Complete Works
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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The Time Gallery, Protean Fantasy, Ariel Fantasy

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The Time Gallery, Protean Fantasy, Ariel Fantasy
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Paul Moravec

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Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 15

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Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 15
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John Eliot Gardiner

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Altre Follie

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Altre Follie
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Jordi Savall/Hesperion XXI

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Golijov: Ayre

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Golijov: Ayre
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Dawn Upshaw

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