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4.0 out of 5 stars 99 Most Essential Relaxing Classics, 16 Jun 2011
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This review is from: The 99 Most Essential Relaxing Classics [Amazon Exclusive] (MP3 Download)
This is a varied and quite interesting selection of pieces and would be a nice addition to anyone's library of MP3 classical music, especially if they just want one or two albums of "best ever" tracks. It's part of a wider range of '99 Most Essential' classics, budget-priced MP3 albums which are excellent value for money, but which have certain drawbacks.

This time, the theme is RELAXING classics, an especially well-worn trail of recent classical music collections (witness the number of albums produced by the UK's Classic FM alone in the past 10 years which purport to sooth and 'relax' us!). I suppose that to the initiated, the Amazon selection is fairly predictable but I found quite a few welcome surprises, eg items by Sandstrom, Granados, Part and Penderecki. There are also pieces by Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach I wasn't expecting. To an extent, in common with some of the other titles in this cheaper download series, they seem to be using a common stock of tracks reshuffled to suit the particular titles (be they Allegros, Baroque, Romantic, Adagios, etc). I own several and this is my observation anyway.

I must also tell you that many of these tracks are not first class performances from celebrated musicians, though a few are. Neither are the tracks brilliant recordings in some cases, but sound as if they could have been remastered from old analogue sources. But, nevertheless, they are very competent, professional performances and often present as really lively and vibrant, with nice acoustics and well-balanced sound levels, which can be a challenge, especially with instrumental concertos. In some ways, the tracks reminded me of those nice Naxos CDs of Eastern European origin. And given the limitations of 256K bitrate MP3 technology, any quibbling about audio quality is largely academic since many people using ordinary equipment would not notice any major differences from a 'lossless' ripped CD of a pure digital recording.

It's a pity they didn't think to include more choral and vocal music or explore the marvellous repertoire of the modern period. It was, however, lovely to hear all the pieces in full, not some awful, half-baked edit or "excerpt". One of the joys of downloading these large compilation albums, as distinct from buying CDs, is that we often get the music in its entirety, however long the pieces (some of these tracks are 16/17 minutes). The plethora of "relaxing" music CDs out there will provide lots of examples of this dubious editing practice, though Amazon (and Classic FM) are not usually guilty.

There is certainly some very beautiful music here and I can recommend it to you. And for the price, you can't go wrong!
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