I completely agree with Garth Winter's review. This book is part of a series of publications of 1001 'things' you shouldn't miss, which may suggest a publisher has just thrown together some classical CDs to make a up a music title. In fact, this is an extremely thoughtful guide and one I have found enormously rewarding since buying.
It differs from other classical CD guides available in the U.K. in a number of ways, the most obvious being that works are arranged in chronological order, from the 12th Century up to 2004. This actually makes a lot of sense; if you like one piece of music, in a style typical of its age, say a Tchaikovsky ballet, then browsing a few pages either side of Swan Lake (say), you find other works which may well appeal to you. More than, say, a Telemann concerto which would be listed in a conventional alphabetical guide. I think relative newcomers to classical music will particularly benefit from this (although as a long-standing collector I've already been inspired to try a number of works I've not heard before). Also this book is very well illustrated, with reproductions of CD covers, and full page photos of composers and conductors. I thought this was a bit of a waste of space at first, but there are some fine illustations; a front cover of Time magazine showing Shostakovich against a blazing Leningrad with the title 'Fireman Shostakovich' (although the CD cover illustrated for the Leningrad Symphony is completely wrong (Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony)). And on page 619 there is a delightful photo of Alban Berg and his young nephew, Erich; young Erich is looking up in something approaching awe at his uncle, whilst Berg himself seems to be on some literally, as well as physically, higher plane altogether. Grab a sight of this even is you don't buy the book.
Of course none of this would justify the book's publication if the advice offered wasn't sound, and here they also come up trumps. A number of highly experienced writers have contributed, including David Gutman, Erik Levi and David Nice. And what I particularly like is that they aren't just churning out old, much repeated, recommendations; where a recording really has stood the test of time (just a couple of examples- Previn's recording of Orff's Carmina Burana; the du Pre/Barbirolli Elgar Cello Concerto) then it's there. But which version of Dvorak's New World Symphony would you expect to be chosen? Kertesz? Kubelik? Their recommendation is Harnoncourt with the Concertgebouw. Listen to it and you'll know why. Also there are alternative recommendations for some works, but I think they were running out of space in what is already a hefty book.
It's a stimulating read for all, and a very good starter guide for newcomers. And I like the fact that Matthew Rye, the general editor, tells you in the introduction that you should really get out and hear music as was intended, in the concert hall. And then take advantage of the fabulous legacy of recordings Western civilisation has left us. And is continuing to do.