The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs 2003/4: The Guide to Excellence in Recorded Classical Music

Overview

The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs is the largest and most comprehensive survey of classical music on digital audio and video discs ever published. It covers thousands of recordings, offering candid evaluation of their relative artistic and technical merits, highlighting notable performances, and pinpointing the best buys. This guide takes into account the many hundreds of new and reissued CDs and DVDs that have appeared in recent years while also including all the major recordings of each work-from ...

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Overview

The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs is the largest and most comprehensive survey of classical music on digital audio and video discs ever published. It covers thousands of recordings, offering candid evaluation of their relative artistic and technical merits, highlighting notable performances, and pinpointing the best buys. This guide takes into account the many hundreds of new and reissued CDs and DVDs that have appeared in recent years while also including all the major recordings of each work-from remastered vintage recordings to the latest releases. This essential reference work is designed to help select the very best video and music discs available today.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This fourth edition of a trusted reference surveys recordings and performances of classical music issued and reissued during the last 20 years. Yet for all its breadth (1300 CDs), new coverage areas (70 SACDs and DVDs), and heft (1600 pages in fairly small type), the guide is selective, say editors March, Edward Greenfield, and Robert Layton, all distinguished British music critics. Recordings of the masters abound, as well as those by minor composers from around the world (e.g., Edward McDowell, Arnold Bax, and Nikolai Medtner). In particular, English composers are well covered-there are about 20 pages on Edward Elgar, which is more than Mendelssohn is allotted-perhaps to the marginalization or omission of some familiar works and composers (e.g., the complete cycle of Viotti violin concertos is not represented at all, and there is only one entry for Viotti). Entries are arranged by composer: the same disc split between two composers may be reviewed under both composers' entries. The editors evaluate by means of a narrative and a star system (one to three, with a rosette indicating an "arbitrary compliment" from a member of the reviewing team). Recordings marked with a door-key icon indicate that it may be used as the basis of a personal collection, and these recordings are listed in an appendix. Unlike Alexander J. Morin's Classical Music: The Listener's Companion and Gramophone Classical Good CD Guide 2003, Penguin only reviews the music; explanations about the piece or its composer, as well as reference material ( la Gramophone), are absent. For the classical music aficionado, this is good news because it provides more space for the heart of the matter (i.e., the reviews), though some libraries may appreciate the explanatory and reference features offered in the other works. At less than $30 a pop, all three books are highly recommended, and because none is comprehensive, every library should own two or even all three. Classical Music: The Listener's Companion has a slight edge overall, but Penguin will be an essential purchase for many libraries. [More composers and performances are included in a biannual yearbook.-Ed.]-Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141013848
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: 2003/04 Edition
  • Pages: 1616
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 2.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Ivan March is a well-known lecturer, journalist, and writer in the world of recorded music. Edward Greenfield spent forty years on the staff of the Guardian and is a regular BBC broadcaster. Robert Layton is a journalist and broadcaster.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2004

    Indispensable resource

    Outstanding review of the best of new classical music releases, as well as the very best of past CD's. A must read for both beginning and experienced classical music listeners and collectors. Using this book will save much wasted time and money, especially when trying to decide which of tens of recordings of the same work to invest in. Usually clearly indicates the preferred choice in the more important works. Each recording has a paragraph or two describing the merits and/or shortcomings, often with a few comments on the work itself or on the composer. The recording details (digital vs. analog, mono vs. stereo) are given. A new feature of this edition is a list of 'key' recordings, useful when building a music collection and when considering buying music that is unfamiliar. Some bias towards British music and British orchestras and performers, but this is to be expected. The only comparable source (Gramophone) has a similar bias (and also some of the same reviewers). At times, the reasoning behind a given grade is not made clear in the text of a review. Overall, an encyclopedic resource that soon becomes indispensable.

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