2023 Albums of the Year – Nominations (Part 2 of 3)

It’s that exciting time of year again… time to begin our Album of the Year Awards process! Highlighting and honouring the highest quality DSD music is what we do at NativeDSD. And there is no better way than to let you, our trusted music-loving audiophiles, vote on the top albums from the last year.

Throughout 2023 we have had new labels join the NativeDSD mission, we’ve seen a huge increase in new albums, gone in-depth with DSD music makers for our blog, and worked hard to continue showcasing the great DSD music being made around the world. We have a lot to celebrate!

Next comes the difficult part. How does NativeDSD select the nominees for Best DSD Albums of the Year? As has been our tradition, NativeDSD has asked Senior Reviewer Bill Dodd and Technical Advisor Brian Moura to carefully review the year’s DSD releases and bring our listeners 2 to 5 nominations in several musical categories.  

Part 2 contains the following categories:

Chamber Music (Bill Dodd)

Martinu Cello Sonatas

Andrei Korobeinikov, Johannes Moser
Pentatone – PTC5187007

Fine renditions of cello Sonatas by one of my favorite composers of the 20th Century, Bohuslav Martinu!  From darkness to joyous release, one always feels a living, breathing reality in the music of Martinu.  Moser and Krobeinikov are superb.

Bach: Goldberg Variations Reimagined

Rachel Podger, Chad Kelly, Brecon Baroque 
Channel Classics – 44923

Another album that brings some fresh air to a old favorite!  As David Barker wrote for MusicWeb International,  “Goldberg meets Brandenburg in a very succesful merger.”  Chad Kelly has arranged the Goldberg Variations for Keyboard for chamber orchestra.  There have been other “arrangements” of the Goldbergs, but this one glows with the talents of Rachel Podger and the marvelous chamber orchestra, Brecon Baroque.  

Duo – Martinu, Poulenc, Hindemith Works For Cello & Piano

Nuala McKenna, Robert Kulek
Cobra Records – COBRA0090

Fabulous, intimate music guaranteed to put you in Paris in the first half of the 20th Century.  The liner notes (you can download the booklet) are especially interesting, but the music is played beautifully by this “duo”.  

CPE Bach: Sonatas for Keyboard & Violin

Rachel Podger, Kristian Bezuidenhout
Channel Classics – 41523

CPE Bach was, and still is in the shadow of his father.  But this recording shows how much he grew as a composer.  The first two sonatas are early, but then the works are from much later in his life.  I hope more musicians will discover CPE Bach.  I can’t imagine a better pair to be playing this music, and the Channel sound is first class.

Stravinsky, Poulenc, Debussy: Works for Cello & Piano

Amalie Stalheim, Christian Ihle Hadland
Lawo Classics – LWC1260

Stravinsky’s resetting of music from his ballet score Pulcinella into the Suite Italienne,  and sonatas from Poulenc and Debussy make up this superb collection.  Paris must have been an amazing place to be before the war.

Vocal (Classical) (Bill Dodd)

Brahms: Orchestral & Vocal Works

Marzena Diakun, Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid
IBS Classical – IBS132023

Previously I wrote, “Rich, beautiful music – Perfectly recorded. Don’t miss this one!”  There are stories behind many of these works, and those stories are in the music.  This is a truly beautiful album!

Folk Songs

Magdalena Kozena, Czech Philharmoic, Sir Simon Rattle
Pentatone – PTC5187075

“Folk Songs” with collections by Bartok, Berio, Ravel, and Montsalvatge.  Magdalena Kozena’s mezzo soprano seems perfect for these songs.  Sir Simon’s accompaniment is excellent.  The Pentatone recording is excellent.

An Old Hall Ladymass

Trio Mediaeval
2L – 2L175

A lost manuscript, found after nearly 400 years in a seminary, exquisite recording quality, and the superb singing of Trio Mediaeval make this a must have for lovers of 14th and 15th Century church music.  Plus it features the first Organetto I can recall ever hearing.  There’s even a picture.

Rock (David Hopkins)

Anyway, Still

Exit North
SDM&LiveRec – SDSD1069

This cinematic rock album will take you on a journey – turn the lights low and buckle up for the ride! Thomas Feiner’s hauntingly rich vocals keep you curious and on edge throughout, while the piano, steady rhythmic synths and string section drive the songs along in a storyline of sound.

Monster – Live Session

Hunnia Records – HRES1520

This group captures the sound of another time… a time when distortion-drenched guitar bands led by egomaniacal frontmen were on top of the world. This is classic, hard rock from a killer group, plain and simple.


Hunnia Records – HRES1602

This recording was chosen not only for it’s exceptional sound, but also for the technical ability from the musicians. Prog-Rock as a genre is known for it’s speed, precision, and almost classical-inspired compositions – and Horizont does the genre justice. It’s spacey, dynamic, and constantly evolving, never allowing for a dull moment. Just as the cover art depicts a climber facing his inevitable ascent, this music drives you ever-forward and onward to the unknown.

Film Music (Brian Moura)

John Williams At The Movies

The Dallas Winds conducted by Jerry Junkin with Christopher Martin (trumpet)
Reference Recordings – RR142

One of 2023’s Best Selling Albums at NativeDSD features 13 of the best-known Movie and TV Themes composed by John Williams.  The performances by The Dallas Winds with Trumpeter Christopher Martin will bring back memories from The Olympics, Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and several more.  A fine album to add to your DSD collection. 

The Michel Legrand Songbook

Kalman Oleh with Andrea Malek, Roby Lakatos, Trio Midnight, Danubia Orchestra Óbuda conducted by Janos Bodor, Paul Lakatos & József Czibere
Hunnia Records – HRES1608

For 15 years pianist, composer and arranger Kalman Oleh dreamed of a tribute album to Film and TV composer Michel Legrand.  For this he would need a fine singer, a versatile Jazz Trio, a String Chamber Orchestra, talented soloists and fine arrangements to perform classics including The Windmills of Your Mind, The Summer Knows (Theme From Summer of ’42) How Do You Keep The Music Playing? and What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?  On this album, all of these elements come together in a very enjoyable tribute to one of the great composers of our time.  

The NativeDSD Team would like to thank Bill Dodd and Brian Moura for having spent an eternity listening to all of the albums released in 2023, and for selecting the albums they believe you should not miss.

Written by

David Hopkins

David is NativeDSD’s Product and Communication Manager. He grew up writing songs, playing guitar and drums. Working with musicians in studio to produce records as a recording engineer and producer, he produced music for numerous commercials for Pulse Content, and organised numerous music events and concerts.


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