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on 15 July 2017
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VINE VOICEon 8 November 2004
Something needs clearing up here. This is the 'Yearbook' to the main guide: 'The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVD's'. Very similar titles likely to cause confusion.
The main guide, published in 2003, is a huge tome 1550 pages long giving an impressive overview of some of the classical CD's available in the U.K. This 'Yearbook' covers releases since that main guide was published. Unfortunately, presumably due to publishing deadlines, a lot of CD's I had expected would be covered, aren't. For example, the superb Chailly Mahler Symphony No.3 on Decca, which was officially released in the U.K. on May 10 2004 isn't mentioned! I found many similar omissions. Half this guide is taken up with compilations, vocal recitals, and the like, leaving fewer pages for the main orchestral discs. This is OK but really you must have the main guide before you get this, and I'm not sure how much this adds given what's left out. Still as a collector I found it an essential purchase.
The review standard is as high as ever; in fact I think I even detected a bit more criticism compared with the main guide. Are classical CD standards dropping or the reviewers becoming 'tougher'?.
So a bit of a disappointment regarding coverage, but still an essential for serious collectors.
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on 21 April 2015
Slightly used but no worries, it will become very used...
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on 23 January 2007
This is a great guide for anyone with an interest in Classical Music, wanting to source the best recordings. However, there is a catch - this is a YEARBOOK and you also need the main guide (which I didn't realise!), so it's not a complete reference of the current works available. This is a book that updates the main guide, with new releases since it's publication in 2005.

The guide itself is easy to read, with descriptions of CD's currently available, listing the best buys and best recordings. BUT, if you don't have the main guide it will be incomplete as a reference source - you need both and I cannot find it on Amazon. The Penguin Books website sell it at £25.00, plus £3.00 delivery charge.

So, if you are updating your main guide and want to stay current, this is an essential buy. If you don't have the main guide, I would advise against buying this edition, as you won't have a comprehensive guidebook - there is a lot missing! My advice is go for the Gramophone Edition "The Classical Good CD, DVD & Download Guide 2007" This is an excellent and FULL guide, covering all the available recordings you are likely to need. If you read Gramophone magazine you will find it easier to read than the Penguin guide as well.
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VINE VOICEon 17 September 2003
A big welcome for a big book! Unlike 2002's edition, which was just a yearly update together with reviews of collections, this 2003/2004 Guide casts its net over the whole range of classical C.D.'s now available in tthe U.K. There are now so many recordings available that the editors have re-thought what to include, and have I think come up with the best overall solution.
Collections of shorter pieces are, by and large, left until next year's edition. The reviewing team here concentrate on the major, and not-so-major, pieces by a wide range of composers. There are 1600 pages, but even so they have had to be selective , and their decision to review only those recordings which may safely be regarded as amongst the best is sensible. With so many excellent discs around, there's not much point wasting space on the non-competitive ones. Of course we all have our own ideas of the 'best' (and one of the pleasures is disagreeing occasionally with the reviewers), but between them these writers have decades of experience listening to recordings and concerts. They are a pretty reliable guide....
New to this edition is the inclusion of 'key' recordings. These are recommendations for the basis of a classical collection, and again the choices are on the whole very sensible. They are indicated by a key symbol in the text, and also are listed at the back of the Guide; so if you are in a desparate hurry you can just glance at the suggested recording of, say, Shostakovich 5 before dashing out or ordering on the Web. The old 'rosette' symbol has also been retained for discs dear to particular reviewers. I am glad of this, as there is usually something special about them.
There are also reviews of some SACD's and opera DVD's. But as the authors point out, some SACD's are very expensive and we are currently in a very price-conscious age. It will be interesting to see..(I think SACD prices will drop here in the UK).
A couple of new discs I was personally delighted to see listed are Barbirolli's live Elgar 1st. Symphony on BBC Legends, and an amazing Handel Fireworks Music recorded by a huge wind orchestra in the middle of the night in the 1950's!(on Testament).
This is the sort of guide that pays for itself, and will be an absorbing read for anyone interested in classical recordings. But you may end up using your credit card rather a lot. I have done, already.
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on 27 May 2013
My main interest is DVDs of Opera and Ballet. I cannot abide self-indulgant Directors who ignore what the composers would find acceptable. The editor of this Guide agrees:- "The DVD collector can pick and choose, unlike the current opera goer who too often has to accept a highly indulgent production from a self-regarding producer who has no desire whatsoever to re-create the composer's vision, preferring to project his own ideas, however unsuitable. What the DVD viewer of opera needs is obvious. No dustbins in the Gorbals, no t-shirts or pairs of holed jeans in sight, but a faithful attempt to match what the composer might have expected to see on stage: a performance and production that will be well sung, stimulating to watch and repeatable."
However, I do love filmed versions of opera that use appropriate locations instead of being restricted to the confines of a theatre stage. In this category there are outstanding DVDs of Tosca, Carmen, Eugene Onegin and A Village Romeo & Juliet.
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on 13 November 2003
The Penguin Guide gets bigger but not really better. Some of the editorial logic is quite a bit baffling and errors riddle the book, many of them carried over from prior editions. Comprehensive it is not as the editors admit that, because of the increase in recordings, it has been more selective based on among other things availability. That logic is also baffling. For example Ligeti rates only 4 albums and Penderecki 2. Lack of availability is no excuse here as both composers have major recording projects on going by at least 3 major labels over the last 5 or so years. How the mighty have fallen. Together they barely rate a page yet Percy Grainger has 4 pages of entries!
One expects a slight British bias but the Guide has become a Simon Rattle Fan Club. He can do no wrong and is top choice in whatever he does. One need only look at the listings for complete Beethoven Symphonies. Karajan, Toscanini, Wand ,Jochum (to name a few) barely rate a paragraph while Szell has been banished from the complete set area and relegated to the individual issues. Rattle's set gets 5 paragraphs of mostly fluff.
As to errors here is a small sampling. If I listed all I have found so far I would excede Amazon's word limit. Boult's Everest Vaughn Williams 9th is still mentioned as being recorded several months after the composers death. It was actually begun some 7 hours after the composer's death (it was an already scheduled session) as Sir Adrian's recorded introduction on the cd clearly indicates.Welser-Most's Bruckner 5th gets a glowing review, I think. There is a paragraph at the end praising a performance but no mention of who the performers are. Dame Lympany's excellent 2 cd Chopin set on Dutton also receives high praise but there is no star rating or possibly a rosette by the recording. The recent Chandos issue of the original members of the Borodin Quartet playing the first 13 Shostakovich String Quartets are mentioned as being mono recordings from the 1960's. They are very definately Stereo and were made in the 1960's and 1970's unless the Brodin's had ESP and were able to foresee the 1970 13th Quartet. Makes one wonder if they actually have listened to the recordings as this type of error pops up quite a bit. Furtwangler's "Tristan und Isolde" gets a glowing paragraph followed by another that virtually repeats the above with the mention of a new remastering. The 1st came from prior editions. If the editors were cramped for space one would think the redundant paragraph would be ditched. Make room for another Percy Grainger review. As I said a small sampling from a list, so far, of about 30 with I am sure more to follow.
Comprehensive, no and that by the editors own admission. Reliable? Well have some large grains of salt at hand and don't believe all you read. As composer Bernard Herrmann (also banished in the new edition) once said, "Just because some idiot put it in print doesn't make it holy writ". Words that might fit both this writer and the Penguin Guide :}
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on 3 June 2001
I've been buying this book for a number of years now - I have two earlier editions - and I simply wouldn't be without it. I haven't found another guide that can compare.
The Penguin reviewers are thorough, discerning and extremely knowledgeable. I rate their judgement very highly and I think I can safely say that I've never been disappointed by a purchase made on the strength of one of their top recommendations.
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on 4 November 2002
The authors are all distinguished critics whose views I trust completely. This book is an invaluable source of information to anyone who collects classical CDs. The reviews are necessarily rather short and some important modern composers are omitted but the book could not be much bigger and compromises have to be made. If you have this, the Gramophone Good CD Guide (which is not so comprehensive but more detailed) and a subscription to either Gramophone, International Record Review or the BBC Music Magazine, then you will have everything you need to be a discerning buyer.
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on 24 March 2014
This book deserves five stars because it is a guide not to be missed
for lovers of classical music.
Even better than the Gramophone Guide, to my personal opinion.
Although you can find everything that you want on the internet it
still is a great source of valuable information on paper.
This guide isn't available anymore in the shops so I am very happy
with this used copy that was in good condition for a nice price.
Recommended for classical music lovers!
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