About this item
Seekers of a decent cost-cutter collection of soothing background music and beginners looking for a reasonably broad introduction to Classical music may find Decca's Ultimate Classical Relaxation: The Essential Masterpieces to be a worthwhile purchase. This five-disc set covers the most famous selections from works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky -- three favorites of casual listeners and newcomers alike -- and offers two additional CDs of the greatest hits of other masters, including Samuel Barber's Adagio for strings, the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5, the slow movement from Joaquín Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto, and numerous other evergreens. Of course, this box set would not be complete without the Albinoni Adagio (really composed by Remo Giazotto), but the surprising omission of Pachelbel's ubiquitous Canon may make some doubt whether this really is the ultimate collection; for that overplayed piece, in any number of arrangements, the listener is obliged to search elsewhere. But the music presented here is certainly pleasant and representative of the most popular pieces in music history. Some may question the caliber of the playing, but Decca has chosen recordings by world-class artists, including conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Neville Marriner, Herbert von Karajan, and Zubin Mehta; performers such as pianist Alicia de Larrocha, soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, and violinist Kyung-Wha Chung; and ensembles with the instant name recognition of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, to name just a few. Bearing in mind that this compilation is excerpt oriented and covers a lot of material, yet leaves much important music out, it is still one of the better budget packages on the market and worth more than its low price might suggest. Even so, the audio levels are quite variable, with some over-boosted tracks, while others are quite soft, so some volume adjustments are necessary. Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide
Record label: Universal music group
Musical Artist: Various
Software Format: CD
Street Date: March 11, 2008
Item Number (DPCI): 244-00-6269
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