A to Z of Classical Music

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
Technically, the insides of this package from Naxos deliver what the outside promises: an "A to Z" compilation of classical composers, a 562-page book, and over 150 minutes of music. The implication would be, however, that the book is coordinated with the music, which is only loosely true. The book is a little biographical dictionary covering quite an assortment of classical composers. It is not comprehensive Aubert is included, but not Chaminade, although many would suggest a reversal in status these days, but it's impressive enough for a volume that will fit in a coat pocket. Each composer's entry is rounded out with recommended recordings -- which are, of course, drawn...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
Technically, the insides of this package from Naxos deliver what the outside promises: an "A to Z" compilation of classical composers, a 562-page book, and over 150 minutes of music. The implication would be, however, that the book is coordinated with the music, which is only loosely true. The book is a little biographical dictionary covering quite an assortment of classical composers. It is not comprehensive Aubert is included, but not Chaminade, although many would suggest a reversal in status these days, but it's impressive enough for a volume that will fit in a coat pocket. Each composer's entry is rounded out with recommended recordings -- which are, of course, drawn exclusively from the Naxos catalog. This may explain why some composers are included and others omitted. The selections on the two CDs are included in these recommended-recordings listings but not otherwise elaborated in any special way -- there is no attempt to tell listeners what they're hearing in any specific case, or to put it into any chronological or historical context. The music on the two discs does, however, stand out in one respect from other collections that purport to offer an introduction to classical music -- it is one of the few that tries to run through the whole history of the music chronologically, starting with "Gregorian" chant the term isn't much used anymore by those familiar with the music and the chants of Hildegard of Bingen and ending with the Philip Glass "Violin Concerto" of 1987. There's a lot to be said for this approach -- the listener obviously can't grasp the whole stylistic constellation of an era by listening to a couple of pieces but will be witness to the birth of Renaissance polyphony, of the Baroque orchestra, of the concerto and piano sonata, of Romantic excess, neo-classic cool, and various modern developments. There are major omissions -- you jump straight from Hildegard in the twelfth century to Palestrina at the end of the sixteenth, and there is no operatic vocal music at all -- but almost all the selections, with the exception of a sinfonia movement of Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, can be justified in their inclusion. The program does especially well by including some warhorse numbers, like "Pachelbel"'s "Canon," at their proper places in the historical sequence; the listener who buys this set will learn to hear the "Canon" as a manifestation of Baroque structural exuberance, not as the icon of sentimentality it has become. The performances are adequate or better, and the diverse materials do not jar against one another sonically. In the end, although this package is not a wholly coherent one, it may serve the needs both of listeners wanting a handy pocket biography reference and those in search of an overview of classical music's millennium-long or longer history.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/17/2000
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313531929
  • Catalog Number: 8555319-20
  • Sales rank: 4,022

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 De profundis clamavi, offertory in mode 2 (Liber Usualis No. 1076; GR 388) - Gregorian Chant & Alberto Turco (3:21)
  2. 2 Alleluia, O virga mediatrix, alleluia antiphon - Hildegard von Bingen & Oxford Camerata (3:34)
  3. 3 Missa Papae Marcelli, for 6 voices: Gloria - Oxford Camerata & Giovanni Pierliugi Palestrina (5:32)
  4. 4 Pavan and galliard a 6, for instrumental consort in C major - William Byrd & Semyon Bychkov (3:09)
  5. 5 Canon and Gigue for 3 violins & continuo in D major: Canon - Johann Pachelbel & Capella Istropolitana (4:48)
  6. 6 Concerto Grosso in G minor ("Christmas Concerto"), Op. 6/8: Vivace - Grave - Jaroslav Krcek & Arcangelo Corelli (1:21)
  7. 7 Concert 1, for various instruments & continuo (Concerts royaux): Prélude - François Couperin & Laurence Cummings (2:46)
  8. 8 Violin Concerto ("La Primavera", The Four Seasons) for violin, strings & continuo in E ("Il cimento" No. 1), Op.8/1, RV 269: Allegro - Antonio Vivaldi & Capella Istropolitana (3:32)
  9. 9 Trumpet Concerto in D major, TWV 51:D7: Adagio - Georg Philipp Telemann & Capella Istropolitana (2:07)
  10. 10 Suite for orchestra No 3 in D major, BWV 1068: Air on the G String - Johann Sebastian Bach & Capella Istropolitana (5:20)
  11. 11 Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Hallelujah Chorus - George Frideric Handel & Scholars Baroque Ensemble (3:40)
  12. 12 Symphony No. 104 in D major ("London"), H. 1/104: Allegretto - Franz Joseph Haydn & Capella Istropolitana (5:25)
  13. 13 Sinfonia in F major, Grave F7: Andante - Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf & Failoni Orchestra (2:11)
  14. 14 Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major ("Eine kleine Nachtmusik"), K. 525: Allegro - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Capella Istropolitana (5:53)
  15. 15 Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27/2: Adagio - Ludwig van Beethoven & Jenö Jandó (5:19)
  16. 16 Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 74 (J118): Andante - Carl Maria von Weber & Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Kosice (6:50)
  17. 17 Stabat mater for 2 sopranos, tenor, bass, chorus, & orchestra: Quis est homo - Gioachino Rossini & Hungarian State Opera Chorus (6:54)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), song for voice & piano, D. 839 (Op. 52/6) - Franz Schubert & Camerata Budapest (4:53)
  2. 2 Symphonie fantastique for orchestra ("Episode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties"), H.48 (Op. 14): Un Bal - Hector Berlioz & Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (6:31)
  3. 3 A Midsummer Night's Dream, incidental music, Op. 61: Wedding March - Richard Hayman & Felix Mendelssohn (6:25)
  4. 4 Waltz for piano in D flat major ("Minute"), Op. 64/1, CT 212 - Frédéric Chopin & Idil Biret (1:46)
  5. 5 Symphony No. 1 in B flat major ("Spring"), Op. 38: Largo - Robert Schumann & BRT Philharmonic Orchestra (5:33)
  6. 6 Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b: Ride of the Valkyries - Richard Wagner & Uwe Mund (5:25)
  7. 7 La Traviata, opera: Prelude - Giuseppe Verdi & Alexander Rahbari (3:54)
  8. 8 Hungarian Dances (21) for orchestra, WoO1: Hungarian Dance No. 3 - Johannes Brahms & Istvan Bogar (2:20)
  9. 9 The Swan Lake, ballet, Op. 20: Scène - Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky & Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (2:43)
  10. 10 Slavonic Dance No. 1 for orchestra in C major, B. 83/1 (Op. 46/1) - Balázs Szokolay & Antonin Dvorák (3:52)
  11. 11 Enigma Variations for orchestra, Op.36: Nimrod - Edward Elgar & Bournemouth Sinfonietta (3:42)
  12. 12 Clair de lune, for piano, L. 75/3 - Claude Debussy & Keith Clark (4:29)
  13. 13 Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zoroaster), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 30: Opening - Richard Strauss & Zdenek Kosler (1:53)
  14. 14 Prelude for piano No.1 in C sharp minor ("The Bells of Moscow"), Op. 3/2 - Sergey Rachmaninov & Idil Biret (4:43)
  15. 15 Fontane di Roma (The Fountains of Rome), symphonic poem, P. 106: Fountain of the Villa Medici at Sunset - Ottorino Respighi & Enrique Bátiz (6:10)
  16. 16 Pulcinella, suite for orchestra: Overture - Igor Stravinsky & Bournemouth Sinfonietta (2:11)
  17. 17 Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra: O Fortuna - Carl Orff & Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (2:42)
  18. 18 Simple Symphony, for string orchestra, Op. 4: Playful Pizzicato - Benjamin Britten & Bournemouth Sinfonietta (3:22)
  19. 19 Violin Concerto: 1st Movement - Ulster Orchestra & Philip Glass (6:47)
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Beautifully done

    I bought this set a couple years ago and I play it weekly. I put one of the cd's in my car and the cd player was damaged and it "ate" my cd! Well I had to go out and get a new copy right away! A truly beautiful set. Good music for relaxing weekend mornings or background at dinner parties. I listen to mine all the time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    3rd expanded edition is fun for people who want to learn about classical music

    The 2-CD set included in the new 3rd expanded edition of this release has a track listing different than what you see on this page. Click on the "back cover" picture, and it will show that the tracks (on this edition) are listed alphabetically, by composer. Of course, it's impossible to sum up the best classical works ever written on only 2 CDs, and the selections will always be debatable. But the CDs are maxed out at over 2 and a half hours total, and from Adams to Wagner, you're given a good cross-section of the different periods of classical music, and what they have to offer.

    The book has been expanded to 930+ pages, and although there are a few surprising omissions (Maw, Tan Dun, Whitacre... maybe the only composers in the book are ones on the Naxos label?), it's still a good source of reference for casual listeners, and those curious about composers they weren't otherwise familiar with. The price is definitely right, and you may wind up turning yourself onto something new!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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