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Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde - Ludwig, Wunderlich, Klemperer
Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde - Ludwig, Wunderlich, Klemperer
Price: £9.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Out of this World, 28 Jun. 2015
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This is the far and away the best recording of Das Lied von der Erde. The performances by Fritz Wunderlich and Christa Ludwig are simply out of this world and Klemperer's conducting is sensitive and nuanced without ever sounding pretentious. The sound quality is outstanding. Anyone who appreciates Mahler's deep spiritual angst must own this CD.


Sibelius - Complete Symphonies
Sibelius - Complete Symphonies

3.0 out of 5 stars nothing to get excited about here, 18 April 2015
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Very good rendition of the 1st symphony, the rendition of the second symphony and is rather poor (compared to e.g. Barbirolli). The renditions of the 3rd, 6th and the 7th symphonies are quite good in my view. However, Sanderling's take on the fifth lacks fire and same goes for the fourth in my view. The renditions sound quite detached (except the 1st symphony) but not minimalistic like the renditions by many Scandinavian conductors. Sanderling's approach is not either romantic. It falls somewhere in between romantic and minimalistic.

The CD containing the tone poems is unlistenable since the orchestra sounds as if it is playing under a fluffy carpet. I can't understand how anyone would issue a CD fraught with such obvious sound defect. It should be noted that Brilliant Classics has issued this set more than once so perhaps this fault does not show up in other editions. The sound on the symphony discs is free from this fluffiness. The sound quality is average in the case of the symphonies.

All in all, a servicable set but not one to chase. I keep this one in the car...


Dvorįk: String Quartets No. 10, Op. 51; No. 14, Op. 105
Dvorįk: String Quartets No. 10, Op. 51; No. 14, Op. 105
Price: £7.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine performances of great quartets, 30 Mar. 2015
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Yes, there have been rave reviews here before me... Listening to some samples I noticed that the playing of no. 14 seemed to lack drive and precision. However, no. 10 sounded good enough to me to buy into the rave reviews. So, now I have got the CD and have listened to it. In short: my first impression based on the samples was quite correct.

Let's begin with op, 105, quartet no. 14. This quartet is extremely well written and is a masterpiece in the string quartet genre. The Vlachs' interpretation is highly lyrical and it could be said that the listener is transported to a beautiful summer's day in the rustic Bohemian countryside where there are blossoming trees and flowery fields, blue skies, joyous countryfolk coming together after hard day's work, birds singing, and perhaps ominous thunderclouds on the horizon. However, there is a certain lack of drive (or decisiveness) and precision in the Vlach's playing and continuity is a bit unsteady at times, especially when there are speed changes along the melody line. Despite this, the phrasing is generally beautiful. So, as long as one is not bothered by some lack of precision and drive, it is very easy to enjoy listening to the Vlach's play this music. Prospective buyers who are more concerned about precision and drive than lyricism would be better off with the Moyzes quartet's version of no. 14 on Naxos (also a bargain issue) where the contrapuntal nature of no. 14 is better illustrated.

The Vlach's lyrical style of playing is extremely well suited to quartet no. 10 (op. 51) since that quartet is more lyrical composition and much less contrapuntal than no. 14. The Vlach's general lack of drive doesn't matter at all in that composition.

The sound quality is good, warm and full-bodied, but perhaps not as good as some reviewers are claiming.


Dvorak: Symphonies 5,7,8,9
Dvorak: Symphonies 5,7,8,9
Price: £12.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Rigid readings and digital glare, 8 Mar. 2015
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These recordings are digital but the sound is distant and unnatural. I suppose one could call it digital glare. The performances themselves do not trigger any hurrahs either. There is a distinct lack of liveliness in the playing of the orchestra and Jansons must carry the blame for it. The music's natural flow is hampered by Jansons rigid direction which conveys none of the rustic feel from the Bohemian countryside. The music never really comes alive. Perhaps Jansons and the orchestra should have gone for a walk in one of the many Norwegian fjords before recording this music. I rate this 3 stars but was tempted to opt for 2 stars.


Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1; Hamlet Overture
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1; Hamlet Overture
Price: £6.55

5.0 out of 5 stars perfectly balanced 1st, 12 Feb. 2015
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A surprisingly successful rendition of Tchaikovsky's first symphony in splendid sound.

I admit that I didn't expect much from this conductor and orchestra, simply because I had never heard of them.

This is simply the best recording of the first symphony I have heard.

It's better than Karajan who focuses too much on the structural side and it's better than Antal Dorati who focuses perhaps a little too much on the Russian folk themes.

There are other recordings out there too but why spend more than you need to when you can get a perfectly balanced rendition by getting this one!


Mahler: Complete Symphonies Nos 1-9 (Decca Collectors Edition)
Mahler: Complete Symphonies Nos 1-9 (Decca Collectors Edition)
Price: £40.95

4.0 out of 5 stars A bit iron-hearted but yet dramatic interpretations, 10 Feb. 2015
I have had this set for a few years. It has grown on me. At first, I'd have given it three and half stars. Now, my rating stands at (just over) four stars.

My feelings about this set have been mixed. However, I cannot but admire the clarity of these readings. Generally, I'd say that there is minimal emotional expression coming through the conductor in these works. Often, Solti's no-nonsense approach works to a great effect, e.g. when it is combined with Solti's super-aggressive drive in the first movement of the 6th symphony. Solti's take on that movement is so stunning that I can listen to it many times in a row! Yet, in some cases I feel that there is something missing in terms emotional involvement - but then in some cases it is there and exactly the right amount. The adagietto of the fifth is for instance intense in this set (but does not cross the line into emotional porn territory). It's right to say that Solti does try to create dramatic atmosphere although he avoids sentimentality.

It should be mentioned that in the 9th symphony Solti totally fails to shape the symphony, perhaps focusing too much on individual notes instead of the whole. This is very obvious when one compares his 9th with the praised live recording of this symphony by Karajan.

Solti's approach of avoiding too much emtional involvement makes the music less heartfelt on the whole but on the other hand it ensures that the music is not overinterpreted (think Bernstein's Mahler cycle on DG). For instance I agree with another reviewer here that the famous Adagietto from the Fifth is done just right here and makes Bernstein's DG account indeed seem pretentious in comparison.

There is no denying that Solti was an outstanding conductor and these recordings are generally fine and definitely worth having to get a clean picture of these works without too much conductor input. However, in some cases the interpretations are too emotionally detached for my taste and lack warmth.

So, at least if you like Solti's often detached, brisk and cutting approach, then this set is definitely for you.

The sound quality is fine. The orchestra plays well and the soloists are good


Handel: Opera Arias
Handel: Opera Arias
Price: £22.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Performances, 5 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Handel: Opera Arias (Audio CD)
This collection contains many gems. The performances are first class. I have never heard as beautiful performances of Handel than those included on this set by Maria Bayo. The other performers are superb too. As the reviewer Calaf points out it in his review of this CD on amazon.com, it is useful to go and read the glowing reviews here on Amazon of the individual CDs that form this box set but they have previously been issued separately.


Pergolesi/Stabat Mater
Pergolesi/Stabat Mater
Offered by shakedownrecords
Price: £15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sure bet, 5 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Pergolesi/Stabat Mater (Audio CD)
This recording of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater is truly unbelievably good. Everything is simply just right. Before I bought it, I had read that this is the best recording of this work and I can confirm that it sounds like it.


Tchaikovsky - Complete Ballets (6 CD)
Tchaikovsky - Complete Ballets (6 CD)
Price: £15.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor on various levels, 5 Feb. 2015
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The reasons for the mere two stars are the following: The orchestra lacks finesse and plays almost badly, the conductor's approach lacks all restraint rendering these works bombastic and uninspired, The sound engineering is poor, the percussion is far too loud compared to the strings. The Swan Lake presented here is a truncated version. On the whole this is poor quality. This is my worst classical CD purchase in latter times.


Mozart Edition
Mozart Edition
Price: £14.72

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars very disappointing, 17 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Mozart Edition (Audio CD)
I picked this set up in a record shop at a 60% discount. However, even so it was not worth the discounted price. The playing is unbelievably amateurish. I am not sure who's more to blame the conductor or the orchestra. In particular, the requiem performance is so bad that one begins to question one's own judgement for having bought this at all. What a terrible choir. The gran partita and the sinfonia concertante are also very dissatisfactory. I wasn't impressed by the chamber music performances either. The symphonies included on this set are performed nearly satisfactorily, though, despite some lack of fluency.

Why was this set issued at all?

I am very surprised that Harmonia Mundi published this mess because their classical issues are normally of high quality. So, if any of the bosses of HM are reading this, they should contact me to reimburse me the cost of buying this faulty product which should be withdrawn from the record shops and the market in general. The only positive about this set is the sound quality which is very good.


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