The box-set traces the history of Archiv from 1947, when the first recordings were made (Helmut Walcha playing Bach organ works), to a bonus CD featuring selections from the new 2013 albums mentioned above. A complete overview is appended. In between comes a sequence of albums several of which are new to CD from the great names of the label, from Walcha, Wenzinger and Safford Cape, through Karl Richter, Nikolas Harnoncourt and Sir Charles Mackerras…
Dvorák's popular Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87, and Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81, have received numerous performances by Czech ensembles, as well as plenty of foreigners who have attained fluency in the received Czech style (or not). This fine release by Britain's Schubert Ensemble takes the step of defining a non-Czech way of playing Dvorák, with fresh and persuasive results. The players are circumspect and precise in the classic British style, but what they do is bold: they reduce the emphasis on the Czech rhythms in the music, turning them into accents rather than structural determinants.
These are not "classical" performances in the sense of attempting to reproduce the effect of a late eighteenth-century orchestra, but the interpretation has something classical about it all the same — a vigour and a sense of proportion which make me rate this record very highly among the many Karajan has given us … [the] guality of playing and interpretation and recording all combine to make this record … a luxury article. Gramophone (on the Haydn)
Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra gave the American premiere of Shostakovich's valedictory symphony in 1972, followed by its first recording outside the Soviet Union. Collectors may remember its shrill, emasculated sonics, due in part to those notorious matzoh-like dynaflex LP pressings that made RCA infamous in the 1970s. Appearing now for the first time on CD in RCA's High Performance series, the Ormandy Shostakovich 15th blooms with vivacity and life, filling the room with the fabled Philadelphia sound… A major release. [2/10/2000]–Jed Distler, classicstoday.com
Mensa Sonora means ‘Harmonious Table’ and was music composed for aristocratic dining. The diners present during this Tafelmusik would have missed much had they allowed knives and forks to drown the melodies, rhythms and harmonies which Biber produced. These are by and large upbeat pieces, but not in any way superficial or slight. One is struck particularly by the high degree of virtuosity – but to a purpose. The violins in particular carry forward the momentum, linger on the tender and underpin the subtle and perhaps less obvious. […]
The Purcell Quartet has the gift of producing a particularly unified sound. The beauty of each member’s tone is not lost and is there to be enjoyed, as in the first movement of the Sonata in A major. Yet the unison effect achieved by musicians so well in tune with one another adds to the pleasing and compelling texture of these unpretentious yet delightful pieces. (Mark Sealey, musicweb-international.com, 2008)