Lists and describes one hundred of the best classical music compact discs, from Hildegard of Bingen's "Canticles of Ecstasy" to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Classical music CDs are now being issued at such a rate that nobody can possibly keep track of what's around. Just a glance at the catalogue reveals that practically every work by the major composers has been recorded, often several times over - to say nothing of the hundreds of obscurities keeping company with the household names. To make matters worse, the stores tend to concentrate on the latest heavily promoted recordings, so while the catalogue might tell you that you can choose between ninety different versions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, to the uninitiated it can seem there's not much choice at all. If you're a newcomer to classical music, or could just do with some help in making sense of the huge array of recordings, the Rough Guide to 100 Essential Classical CDs is what you need.
This book is not a tally of the 100 "greatest" pieces of music - any such list would be meaningless. Rather, these 100 recordings comprise a collection of great CDs which together give an overview of the whole range of classical music, from the twelfth century to the work of contemporaries as dissimilar as Pierre Boulez and Arvo PŠrt. The biggest names - composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky - are represented by several discs; less prominent figures have been allocated fewer, in some instances sharing a CD with another - Borodin, for example, features on the same disc as Smetana. In all instances, the aim is the same: to introduce the best of each composer's music, through interpretations of the highest calibre.
The composers are arranged alphabetically, with multiple-work entries being arranged in ascending order of scale from small to large - so that, for example, Beethoven's entries begin with a disc of piano sonatas and culminate with his colossal Symphony No. 9. There's a wide range of different genres on display, with a profusion of symphonies, concertos and string quartets, but one genre, opera, is absent - it's covered in a companion volume, the Rough Guide to 100 Essential Opera CDs. When it comes to the question of old recordings versus new, our selection is as even-handed as possible: the earliest recording in the book (Brahms's Clarinet Quintet) first appeared in 1937, while the latest (Monteverdi's Vespers) was released in 1999. Past performers are not necessarily the best, as some nostalgists maintain: the young pianist Yevgeny Kissin, or the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, are outstanding by any standards. Conversely, to demand modern technology and only listen to digital recordings is to cut yourself off from a wealth of marvellous material. In many cases so-called "historical" recordings had excellent sound in the first place, and remastering can work wonders in freshening up a performance. On the one or two occasions that a recording clearly sounds its age we have said so, and given reasons why the insights of that particular performance justify the CD's inclusion.
All our recommendations are currently available in Europe and North America, although some may require a special order. Every review is illustrated with the cover of the current edition, but bear in mind that classical music is re-packaged and re-released so frequently that some of our CDs may re-emerge in different form before too long. So if you can't find what you're looking for, get your stockist to check if it has been re-issued with a new catalogue number - it's extremely unlikely that any of the brilliant performances in this book will ever become extinct.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Rough Guides, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111858284899
Book Description Rough Guides, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1858284899