Settling The Score’s Top 30 Classical Music Tracks 2022


Here are the top 30 favorite classical music tracks voted by RNZ Concert listeners in Settling The Score 2022, and what people love about them:

1 JENKINS, K: The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (including the Benedictus)

Continuing a trend of living composers taking the top spot, this piece by Welshman Karl Jenkins dates from 2000. Although commissioned by the Royal Armories Museum, it is essentially an anti-war work and, in addition to using the text of the Latin Mass is inspired by texts from other religions.

Voter comments on The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace included:

“It captures the spirit of the dawn. How the world feels, at the moment of the beginning – and the end. It takes me to a place where I am in the moment, a meditation of imminence.”

“A lot of modern music has a ‘predictable’ quality, not so ‘The Armed Man’. It surprises over and over again, making it a new experience each time. I find it uplifting and spiritually refreshing.”

“I sang that piece of music. Each repetition I liked it more. With the orchestral accompaniment, it was such a thrilling work to perform. Different moods that were emotionally demanding, meaningful.”

“Hauntingly beautiful…especially the Benedictus.

“I experienced a great presentation of this by the Dunedin City Choir. An opportunity to reflect on the challenges and issues facing people in this world now and in the past.”

Curtain up: Learn more about The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in this introduction to the play with Brian Kay


“This piece of music takes me right back to those long, hot summer holidays in rural Stratford-upon-Avon in the late 1960s. I was cycling along country roads hearing skylarks singing and watching them glide on the gentle summer breeze. While the music is quintessentially English, it harkens back to a simpler way of life. Vaughn Williams has captured rural life so well.

“One of my favorites because I think Vaughan Williams captures the verses of Meredith’s lyric poem so well in music. We really follow the lark as he ‘climbs the spiral staircase’ in a ‘song of light’ .

“Because the larks are happy and they helped me decide to continue working in the countryside rather than in the noisy and congested city.

“I have always loved the sound of stringed instruments, especially the violin which I played when I was younger, and I was extremely moved by the sing-song compositions of Ralph Vaughan Williams, especially ‘The Lark Ascending’ when scheduled for personal funeral importance.”

3 BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6 in F op 68, Pastoral

Wonderful music playing the sounds of nature, the weather (rain and thunder) and the thanks of the shepherds.”

“The most evocative, best-structured and powerful of Beethoven’s great symphonies.”

“I close my eyes and can envision the beauty of the countryside. Seeing Disney’s Fantasia just underscores the music for me.”

“My mother passed away a few years ago now, and whenever I feel deeply sad because I miss her so much, RNZ Concert somehow manages to play one of her many tracks favorite music, and this most beloved symphony never fails to make me feel like she’s reaching out and letting me know she’s near and I shouldn’t be sad she’s gone because it lives in every note of music I listen to.”

4 BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 in D minor Op 125, Chorus (Ode to Joy)

Direction Beethoven
Photo: Katzaroff, public domain

“Good luck playing this live. The story of a stone-deaf Beethovan beating the beat for the orchestra to follow, then being nudged so he could look up and see the standing ovation from the audience when it’s over – so moving – it’s worth playing just to give the piece some background.”

“2nd movement, gloriously joyful and totally captivates me every time I hear it. I use it to ring my cell phone, delaying answering a call so I can listen to the music. It’s hard to understand how someone could hear this music in their head and then transcribe it.”

“I received this symphony (on an LP😀) for my 15th birthday. I still remember listening intently to Schiller’s Ode to Joy and being overwhelmed by the message and impact it it was amplified by the music. Decades later, that music still has a huge impact on me.”

“The greatest piece of music ever written. Makes me cry with joy when I hear it.”

“It’s been my favorite music throughout my adult life. I’m now 73 and the magic of this music still hasn’t faded.”

5 BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb op 73, Emperor

“Beethoven is my favorite composer. His music is breathtaking, but in terms of impact, the Emperor grabs me every time. I can’t have that piece of music playing in the background. Every time this piece is played, I have to actively listen to her, everything around me stops and tears stream down my face. I am in awe of her beauty.”

“I can’t imagine a more perfect blend of piano and orchestra than that achieved by Beethoven. With unforgettable melodies, heartbreaking emotions and captivating moments of tension and release, it’s been one of my favorites since that I first heard it live in Wellington about 70 years ago.”

“I find it one of the most moving concertos, yet it also has some wonderfully sweet parts. What a final that shakes the room!

“The teasing of the theme that bursts into an explosion of the unaccompanied passage. I know very little about the names of the movements, but the piano section alone takes my breath away.

“When I was a boy in the 1950s, my father had a bakelite 78rpm record of this work. I softened the record in hot water and made it into a flower pot. was a nice pot with a hole in the middle to drain the My dad made me buy a replacement disc with my pocket money The new disc cost 6 shillings and it took me three weeks to save up My mum was happy with my flower pots, my father was not.

6 ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor Op 85

“Ever since I was a child I have loved the deep, soft, vibrant tones of the cello, and Edward Elgar’s composition is surely one of the best and most moving cello concertos.”

“I’ve always loved this piece. It’s dramatically sophisticated, and although it’s a cello concerto, the orchestra plays a big part in the sound. The scales played by the cello are epic and heart-pounding .”

“It’s the most complete piece of music I’ve ever heard. It says it all about the joys and sorrows of life.”

7 MOZART: Concerto for clarinet in K622

I’ve loved this piece since I was a kid, I never stopped listening to it and I always stop and enjoy it every time I hear it play.”

“Intense moments of Outside of Africa.”

“Old faithful. Mozart wanted to create something beautiful and he succeeded magnificently. Again something I never tire of. So evocative! It transports me straight to love and nature, I cling to every note. Martin Frost does a fabulous job of it.”

8 VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasy on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Impossible not to have a WW coin with the 150th anniversary. Evocative of ancient ruined abbeys and the ghosts of history.”

“It goes back to a performance I heard of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (string ensemble) in an old stone church when I was in England once. It was just magical.”

“It reminds me of my father, an RAF pilot, flying over England.

“The sound of the Universe in harmony with itself”

PART 9, A: Spiegel im Spiegel

An opportunity for soul reflection as if a mirror is held over our soul. – Now we see as in a dark mirror – then we will see face to face.”

“Our baby loves this song – as a newborn we could put it on and she would calmly crawl into bed which was otherwise impossible to achieve.”

“The Spiegel im Spiegel soothes and calms my soul. I can be absorbed in its sweet melody and dream of floating on a gentle current with no more worries.”

Composer Janet Jennings

Composer Janet Jennings
Photo: Provided

10 JENNINGS, J: Prelude, Fugue, Variations and Chaconne [NZ]

11 ELGAR: Enigma Variations (including Nimrod & Lux Aeterna)

12 JENNINGS, J: Paintings at the Waikato Museum [NZ]

13 ALLEGRI: Miserere mei, Deus

14 BACH: Brandenburg Concerto(s)

15 FAURE: Requiem opus 48

16 BIZET: Au Fond du Temple Saint, excerpt from The Pearl Fishers

17 RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op 18

18 DVORAK: Symphony No. 9, From the New World (including Largo, “Goin’ Home”)

19 DEBUSSY: Moonlight, from Suite bergamasque

20 STRAUSS, RICHARD: Last Four Songs

21 BARBER: Adagio for strings (or ‘Agnus Dei’ choral version)

22 HOLST: The planets (including Jupiter, Mars, Venus, etc.)

23 CHOPIN: Nocturne(s)

24 MORRICONE: Gabriel’s Oboe, from The Mission

25 BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7 in Op 92

26 BACH: Passion according to Saint Matthew

27 LILBURN: Four Guns [NZ]

28 VIVALDI: Four Seasons

29 BACH: Suite(s) for cello

30 SIBELIUS: Finland

See the details of the music that aired on the radio on Labor Day Monday by clicking here.

To find read more about Settling The Score 2022 on RNZ Concert here.

Listen again on New Year’s Day for an encore of Settling The Score 2022 on RNZ Concert.


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