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The Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings: The Must-Have CDs and DVDs [Paperback]

Ivan March , Edward Greenfield , Robert Layton , Paul Czajkowski
1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2012

The Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings brings together the experience and enthusiasm of four of classical music's greatest experts, Ivan March, Edward Greenfield, Robert Layton and Paul Czajkowski, to create an essential guide to the best recordings.

Downloads, CDs and DVD mean it is possible to listen to hundreds of thousands of classical recordings today - but how do you pick your way through the vast array of music now on offer? With clear, simple, easy-to-use A to Z listings of composers and performers, the pick of the latest CD releases, as well as established landmark recordings, short guides to ballet, opera and the history of recording, and indications of budget and mid-range price CDs, this guide offers a treasury of outstanding music, whether you are just starting to build a collection or tracking down a particular favourite.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141399759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141399751
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The best, the biggest and the most comprehensive [Praise for The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2010] (Independent)

About the Author

Ivan March is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster, he has contributed to a number of record-reviewing magazines. He now reviews solely for Gramophone. Edward Greenfield, until his retirement in 1993, was for forty years on the staff of the Guardian, succeeding Neville Cardus as Music Critic in 1975. Robert Layton is an author, translator and critic, specializing in the music of northern Europe. Paul Czajkoski has been a fanatical record collector from almost the age he could walk to a record shop.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

1.5 out of 5 stars
1.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reductio ad absurdam 30 Jan 2013
Like other reviewers, I have a love-hate relationship with the longstanding efforts of the editors of the Penguin Guides to Classical recordings. There are always particular choices they make, and relative evaluations of recordings, where we can disagree with them, as in similar products. There are, however, some uses the previous, larger, Penguin Guides have had, in terms of checking for obvious problems in terms of recorded sound, or serious problems in terms of performance. I would not be as negative about this particular incarnation if it were merely a matter of what recordings I like vis-a-vis the preferences of the authors.
The introduction makes clear that there is an ambiguity about what this much reduced successor to the rather more comprehensive Penguin Guides we are used to is aiming at. It claims to be the 1000 best recordings, but is apparently also the authors' favourite recordings. The tension here has produced a really muddled product.
Arguably, about 10 or 15 years ago at least, the long-standing 'editors' of the guide should have recruited some help, because of (a) the proliferation of recordings on labels beyond the core Decca/ DG/ EMI/ Warner/ Sony/ Hyperion/ Naxos labels which made it difficult for them to remain up to date with new releases and (b) changing tastes, in particular increased interest in music composed prior to 1700 and in the music of the later 20th century and early 21st century. Another editor was recruited, and in a non personalised way, I'd suggest that adding someone interested in British 'light' music of the early to mid 20th century was a big mistake.
The result is predictable, especially when in such a compressed version of the tastes of the editors, the limitations of their strategy become even clearer.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing new edition 16 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have been buying the Penguin Guides to Classical Music for many years. I have found their authoritative and perceptive reviews of music very helpful and rewarding in guiding my choice of recordings in many different fields of classical music. However this new edition is a bit of a disaster. For a newcomer to music, using this guide would not make you realise that Bach wrote the Well Tempered Clavier as there is no mention of it. Why so many minor composers while leaving out some of the leading 20th century ones?
In a more digital world why could not Penguin just produce a giant digital edition? I bought this Guide for my Kindle and I am not aware of any size limits on Kindle files. Alternatively they could create an online presence as it would be one site where I would not object to a paywall.
I cannot recommend this guide unless it is used alongside other guides as a starter or talking to well informed staff in a good music shop. This sadly is becoming increasingly rare but I try to buy my CDs from these specialist shops to support their knowledge and learning.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Going downhill very fast; don't waste your money 19 Jan 2013
The Penguin Guide has been indispensable for more than 30 years. Not now. Since Paul Cjadkovski came on the scene it has become more trivial each year.
Others here refer to the lack of of the well Tempered Clavier and the strange imbalanced choices. They are right. The original wonderful authors treated all composers similarly as a look at the 2002 edition for example. When Mr Cjadkovski hoved into view - the original authors are all getting on a bit now - he seemed overwhelmed by the range of his task. His specialism is film music not classical and it shows. He seems a strange choice for such a formerly renowned book. Since he began his editorship we have seen arbitrary exclusions of formerly well regarded performances, still in the catalogue, now we have great works excluded altogether. But the cat is out of the bag with the title now "must have CDs and DVDs" not a REVIEW of those avaiabe. I wonder how sales have gone over the last few years - falling I'd imagine as this book plases no-one. It is too complex for newcomers, too arbitrary for more expert listeners.
Penguin need to focus this. As another reviewer says, why not put the whole book on Kindle. If that's not possible, have a CD/download book an a DVD download book. Alternatively, go back to the Yearbook format of the 1990s with a starred performance of major works for newcomers and reviews of new performances judged against them
But I am not holding my breathe under Penguin's current lack of leadership fore this once great book
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric and disappointing 19 Oct 2013
I suppose a book like this can never please everyone, as the selections must inevitably reflect the personal preferences of the reviewers.

But even bearing that in mind, the selections and omissions of this book appear very often to be just odd. For example:-
1. There is only a recommendation for a highlights version of 'Boris Gudonov'. Surely this great opera deserves a complete version?
2. Sir John Barbirolli gets more coverage than Monteverdi. There are no recommendations for 'Orfeo', 'Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria" or any of the books of madrigals.
3. Bartok does at least get just about as much coverage as Barbirolli but there is no CD recommendation for 'Bluebeard's Castle', just a DVD and nothing at all for the Cantata Profana
4. For Beethoven's complete symphonies there is only a recommendation again for a DVD. This might be excusable for an opera, but hardly in this case.
5. No recommendation for Faure's string quartet
6. More modern composers (unless they are British) seem poorly represented: no entry for Philip Glass or Steve Reich (although John Adams is included), or Ligeti for that matter
5. Most incredibly, as far as I can see there are no recommendations at all for 'The Art of the Fugue' or the 'Well Tempered Clavier'. Maybe I missed them, surely these are 2 of the most important works in the canon and any classical music collection is incomplete without them.

I could go on but hopefully the message is clear. Also most of the recommendations appear to be for very old recordings, with Solti and Tennstedt being particular favourites. I have nothing against this, but it does make one wonder how up to date the contributors are in their listening.

I have to confess I bought my copy of this in a bargain bookstore. I now understand what it was doing there!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of shelf space
The other reviews say it all: anyone looking for a well-informed guide to recorded classical music needs to keep looking.
Published 9 months ago by Enobarbus
2.0 out of 5 stars A shame, but inevitable, perhaps
With the explosion in the number of classical recordings since the late 80's, it's been increasingly difficult to produce a comprehensive guide. Read more
Published 12 months ago by James McDermott
3.0 out of 5 stars Not fully explored it yet
Not fully explored it yet. First impression it's a bit patchy but there are some interesting recommendations in the guide.
Published 15 months ago by Bill McKinlay
1.0 out of 5 stars By ignoring loads of great new recordings the bad gets worse!!!
I copy my review from the previous edition below. Note that very little at all has changed. So many great recordings over the last couple of year have been totally ignored,... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Tintagel
1.0 out of 5 stars A great disappointment
Strange emphasis on some rather obscure (British?) composers; some of them get two pages or more of recommendations, while much more intersting and important composers are either... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Werner Abegg
2.0 out of 5 stars THE TRIUMPH OF MEDIOCRITY
Can you imagine a record guide without any version of "well-tempered clavier" ? This is one! According to "Penguin", Simon Rattle is a Mahlerian more distinguished than... Read more
Published 21 months ago by ATHENODOROS VARZELIOTIS
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