This 28 CD box set includes the Argo jewels from Marriner’s early recording days with the chamber orchestra he founded in 1958, The Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The edition spans the years 1964-1981, and includes a bonus CD of the first recordings from 1961.The collection concentrates on the Argo years, when the pattern for the Academy’s success was set. Winning performances by soloists such as Alan Loveday and Iona Brown — who in 1974 became Marriner’s successor in directing from the violin – were a key part of the fabric of the Academy’s unique sound.
There can be few more complete examples of a corpus of music fulfilling its practical function with the greatest sum of pleasure and art than the Haydn Masses. True, some Puritan souls for whom seriousness is incompatible with being seriously joyful have found them a problem. Yet even non-believers can accept their liturgical structures as vessels for exquisite music, like opera enjoyed for its beautiful tunes, divorced from plot and staging…
If you want a good sampling of Copland's orchestral works, then this 2-CD compilation comes highly recommended, with excellent performances of works such as Appalachian Spring, Quiet City, El Salón México and others. (Presto Classical)
Barcarole: Favourite Orchestral Pieces is a generous collection of Romantic gems performed by Neville Marriner and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, including popular selections by Georges Bizet, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Jacques Offenbach, Jules Massenet, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Charles Gounod, and Benjamin Godard. Because the music is mostly taken from famous operas and ballets, the album offers a mix of highly colorful and serenely beautiful pieces, though all of them are extremely tuneful and memorable.
The re-master of a 1974 Decca Record recording is excellent in execution and style. Neveille Marriner and St. Martin-in-the-Fields perform in their typical excellent manner.
The concerto performances here have been available in a number of guises over the years, and have rarely been out of the catalogue. In their last incarnation they were coupled with the other items from Perahia’s later, digital solo disc, namely the Variations sérieuses, Op.54 and the famous Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14, as well as the Prelude and Fugue that’s here again. The powers-that-be at Sony must have decided that the Piano Sonata represents better value, and it is certainly a very substantial piece, making a well-filled re-issue.
There are many apocryphal stories in the classical-music world, but the one in which Frederick the Great challenged Bach to improvise a six-part fugue on a theme of the king's own invention is true, and The Musical Offering was, after a period of further reflection, the result. As with all the works of Bach's later years, the work is both great art and a "teaching piece," which shows everything that he thought could be done with the king's theme. The Trio Sonata based on the theme is the only major piece of chamber music from Bach's last decades in Leipzig, and that makes the work and essential cornerstone of any Bach collection. This performance, led by Neville Marriner, is both polished and lively, and very well recorded. At a "twofer" price, coupled with The Art of Fugue, it's the preferred version of the work on modern instruments.
Cherubini’s major sacred works are generally quite marvelous. The two Requiems have a distinguished history on disc. Toscanini recorded the C minor, Markevitch the D minor, and my colleague David Vernier praised the recent release of the C minor piece on Carus. They are both truly excellent: grave and austere, but also dynamic, moving, and well worth hearing. The same is certainly true of the large-scale Masses: the Missa solemnis in D minor and E major and the Mass in F are especially memorable. Their grandeur never strains for effect and is always leavened with the composer’s Italian lyricism. Cherubini may not have been well-treated by history, but he knew what he was doing.