When the 2008 Penguin Guide appeared, I wrote that the main problem was the sheer number of good CDs omitted. I had hoped that with the 2009 Guide, important releases missed out previously would be included.
Not a chance. As I browsed through this latest edition, I kept thinking 'but this is the same as the 2008 edition'!. I got the previous Guide out, and there is precious little difference. All those excellent classical CDs and SACDs released over the last twelve months - so few reviewed.
Just to give a couple of examples; there has been an avalanche of fine Shostakovich recordings over the last year. How many make it into the Guide? Five. Take Mahler symphonies- there's always a steady stream of recommendable new releases; just three new releases are included (and one DVD). I could go on, but you get the point.
I have been buying the Penguin Guide for years, but have never been so disappointed as by this edition. If there is not space for more releases (and it is the sheer number of excellent releases from the last 12 months omitted that annoys me) then either we should have a two volume edition, or Penguin should just call it a day. It's not as though it's cheap either. I actually took my copy back to Waterstone's (sorry Amazon) and got a refund. And the new system, introduced last year, of giving up to four stars, putting shaded boxes around some recommended recordings, a rosette for some others, a 'key' symbol for others....this must be a little confusing for newcomers.
The one guide to classical compact discs which I now find indispensible is '1001 Classical Recordings You Must hear Before You Die', which is much better than it sounds. But I think the Penguin Guide has just had its day.