10 Best Classical Music Vinyl to Own

Published Categorized as Vinyl Buyer Guides

Looking to explore classical music for the first time to start your own classical record collection? Does classical music sound better on vinyl? If you want to learn about some of the best classical music vinyl out there today, you have come to the right place. Today we are going to list some of the finest classical music pieces out there to help you get a feel for what this genre has to offer.

Table of Contents

10 Best Classical Music Albums To Own on Vinyl
10 Best Classical Music Albums To Own on Vinyl

1. Also sprach Zarathustra – Richard Strauss

This piece was used as the opening music to 2001: A Space Odyssey. A masterpiece by Strauss that has a lot to offer to the discerning ear and is considered one of the best classical music vinyl.

This is among my best classical music vinyl, precisely for what the second movement has to offer. From silence, the piece meanders and crawls its way laboriously toward ecstasy, ebbing and flowing to and from its eventual fate. The way the harmonies soar and seethe is something to behold mightily. Truly one of the most stunning passages of music I have ever heard.

This is a must-have gift for vinyl lovers who are interested in bolstering their classical collection.

2. The Rite of Spring – Igor Stravinsky

This piece is far more infamous for its effects on the listening public when it was first released. It was supposed to have caused a near-riot on the opening night and maybe this is the reason why to date is considered one of the best classical music vinyl out there.

Though initially intended as a ballet, the Rite has become a must-have for music lovers and their classical vinyl collection. The harmony and dynamics here are especially prescient of many harder and more visceral rock styles of the 20th century.

This is a crowning achievement among classical albums. It spearheads the ancient music of Russia’s folk Populus into modern contexts contemporaneously unseen. This is still a relatively popular piece. So, you will be able to hear something fresh while also getting some cheap vinyl.

3. Cantus Arcticus – Einojuhani Rautavaara

Another personal favorite of mine comes in the form of one of this Finnish composer’s best-known works. Written in 1972, this piece is an interesting blend of modern and traditional compositional ideas. One might say that it puts the Chicago symphony orchestra to shame.

Incorporating the use of tape in a cutting-edge way, the sound of birds is utilized for musical effect throughout the piece. It also often lays the bed upon which the orchestral excursions delight. There is something inherently playful and mysterious about this piece that draws to mind eons spent in underwear watching Indiana Jones movies around the festive season.

4. The Desert Music – Steve Reich

Likewise inspired by more modern recording studio techniques, this masterwork by minimalist composer Steve Reich is also considered as one of the best classical music vinyls. This is also yet another example of why it is important to stray from the Goldberg Variations Glenn Gould so elegantly set in stone. At least every so often.

My favorite classical music conjures up a feeling that is both intimate and distant. One that is uncannily its own and inimitable by any other style. This is very much true for Reich’s Desert Music. Its sandy scapes are brimming with indeterminate characters and scenes.

5. Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine – Olivier Messiaen

This is another piece that evokes a very particular and nebulous place for me. I used to lie in bed and listen to this record in the dark of my room often.

Of the ten albums here arrayed, this seems the most suited to such an exercise. The lyrics feel a place in its own soul for the so-called divine presence. A truly excellent album that bears Messiaen to even the most hesitant classical music enthusiast. This is one of the reasons we have put it on our list of one of 10 best classical music vinyl to own.

6. Symphony No. 5 – Dmitri Shostakovich

A personal favorite composer of mine whose story never seeks to stir a tremble in the deepest well of my heart. This symphony is among his greatest works, along with his late string quartets.

Other than his complete sonatas, you are unlikely to find such a breadth of emotion anywhere else in his oeuvre. The ECM recording is of particular note. Leonard Bernstein took the Philharmonic orchestra at his behest for a ride that the audience present will not soon forget.

Among the great recordings of this or any other composers, no collection is quite fit without it.

7. For Bunita Marcus – Morton Feldman

Though Feldman’s orchestral works are usually a little more far out, this piece is no less unsettling for only being performed on a piano.

There is an uncannily intense atmosphere throughout this piece. The way that almost every chord is held infinitely and allowed to bleed into the next one. This may be the reason why quite a few classical music enthusiasts consider this piece as one of the best classical music vinyls.

The very heart of this piece is the allisions and collisions between the harmonies in each chord. The way that the resonances rub against one another is due to the fact that the sustain pedal is held throughout the entire piece.

8. Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares Vol. 1 – The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir

Perhaps this is not what you were expecting when you first clicked on this article. The idea of classical music is one inherently spearheaded by the symbol of a brooding white man who is usually greying at the temples or entirely bald.

The women who make up this choir attempt to subvert this idea. They provide harmonically dense and spiritually pure music from the heart of Bulgarian traditional folk and choral music. It is my opinion that plenty of what is arrayed here puts so much western choral music to shame (and you can quote me on that).

9. Hymne au Soleil: Chorwerke – Lili Boulanger

That being said, there are several composers in the western canon who have written some exquisite choral music. Among those more often neglected is the French Lili Boulanger. Her work seems only now to be getting the international renown and attention that it so deserves.

This is a posthumous compilation of her choral works. The piece ‘Sous-bois’ is a truly stunning microcosm of sound that perfectly represents its fractal subject matter.

10. LITANIA – Margaret Leng Tan

To glaze things off, we have this intimate and emotionally complex album. Here, accomplished pianist, Margaret Leng Tan plays the music of Sōmei Satoh.

A particular favorite of mine is ‘The Heavenly Spheres are Illuminated by Lights.’ A stunning piece that exhibits a profound and touching depth to her abilities with tuned percussion.

Again, this kind of music, which eludes specific definitions, is precisely the kind I look for in classical music of this kind. Classical music is often redundantly used as a term to describe old-fashioned and dated artistic trends in music. It is music like this that draws from this tradition and moves forward with it that ought to be considered more often.

This music is incredibly intimate and best sampled on the best headphones for classical music.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are feeling at least a little more able to navigate the western classical landscape. You may have found something new in this collection of some of the best classical music vinyl. There is so much more to see in classical music than just Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart. So, I encourage you to explore as deeply as your heart desires.

FAQs Best Classical Music Vinyl

Is classical music on vinyl?

Indeed it is. Classical music was actually some of the first music to ever grace vinyl, at least the 33 rpm 12-inch disc. The whole gimmick of this disc was that it could hold a whole movement of a symphony on one side. This meant that there was no need to halt the listening experience and change sides. This is how Columbia marketed it anyhow – and the rest is history.

What is the best piece of classical music ever written?

This will vary depending on who you ask. My own personal choice would have to be the piece by Messiaen called Trois petites liturgies de la presence divine. Something about this piece strikes me more than any other I have heard. It is perhaps my most listened-to piece of classical music as a result. There is an inherent mystery in the melodic and vocal lines. The way that the rhythms halt and flow lends itself to tangential peregrinations in a way that other pieces by other composers simply do not.

What is the most beautiful classical music piece?

This will vary depending on who you ask. My own personal favorite in this category would have to be Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. Though the opening fanfare of this piece is oft-parodied and imitated thanks to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the rest is really rather beautiful too. The second movement, in particular, is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Let alone of the most beautiful pieces of classical music I have heard.

What type of person listens to classical music?

Classical music has engendered quite a reputation for being the music of the social elite. Those who are not willing to meet popular culture in the middle. For a lot of classical music listeners, this is true. I know plenty of them who are blind to the wonders of 20th and 21st-century music. They instead choose to listen endlessly to older composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Personally, I, like many others. I am able to listen to classical music with an open ear while also appreciating plenty of other styles of music and sound.

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

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