A to Z of Classical Music

A to Z of Classical Music


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Technically, the insides of this package from Naxos deliver what the outside promises: an "A to Z" compilation of classical composers, a 562-page book, and over 150 minutes of music. The implication would be, however, that the book is coordinated with the music, which is only loosely true. The book is a little biographical dictionary covering quite an assortment of classical composers. It is not comprehensive (Aubert is included, but not Chaminade, although many would suggest a reversal in status these days), but it's impressive enough for a volume that will fit in a coat pocket. Each composer's entry is rounded out with recommended recordings -- which are, of course, drawn exclusively from the Naxos catalog. (This may explain why some composers are included and others omitted.) The selections on the two CDs are included in these recommended-recordings listings but not otherwise elaborated in any special way -- there is no attempt to tell listeners what they're hearing in any specific case, or to put it into any chronological or historical context. The music on the two discs does, however, stand out in one respect from other collections that purport to offer an introduction to classical music -- it is one of the few that tries to run through the whole history of the music chronologically, starting with "Gregorian" chant (the term isn't much used anymore by those familiar with the music) and the chants of Hildegard of Bingen and ending with the Philip Glass "Violin Concerto" of 1987. There's a lot to be said for this approach -- the listener obviously can't grasp the whole stylistic constellation of an era by listening to a couple of pieces but will be witness to the birth of Renaissance polyphony, of the Baroque orchestra, of the concerto and piano sonata, of Romantic excess, neo-classic cool, and various modern developments. There are major omissions -- you jump straight from Hildegard in the twelfth century to Palestrina at the end of the sixteenth, and there is no operatic vocal music at all -- but almost all the selections, with the exception of a sinfonia movement of Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, can be justified in their inclusion. The program does especially well by including some warhorse numbers, like "Pachelbel"'s "Canon," at their proper places in the historical sequence; the listener who buys this set will learn to hear the "Canon" as a manifestation of Baroque structural exuberance, not as the icon of sentimentality it has become. The performances are adequate or better, and the diverse materials do not jar against one another sonically. In the end, although this package is not a wholly coherent one, it may serve the needs both of listeners wanting a handy pocket biography reference and those in search of an overview of classical music's millennium-long (or longer) history.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/17/2000
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313531929
catalogNumber: 8555319-20
Rank: 27905


Disc 1

  1. De profundis clamavi, offertory in mode 2 (Liber Usualis No. 1076; GR 388)  (03:21)
  2. Alleluia, O virga mediatrix, alleluia antiphon  (03:34)
  3. Missa Papae Marcelli, for 6 voices: Gloria

    1. Gloria  (05:32)
  4. Pavan and galliard a 6, for instrumental consort in C major  (03:09)
  5. Canon and Gigue for 3 violins & continuo in D major: Canon

    1. Canon  (04:48)
  6. Concerto Grosso in G minor ("Christmas Concerto"), Op. 6/8: Vivace - Grave

    1. Vivace - Grave  (01:21)
  7. Concert 1, for various instruments & continuo (Concerts royaux): Prélude

    1. Prélude  (02:46)
  8. Violin Concerto ("La Primavera", The Four Seasons) for violin, strings & continuo in E ("Il cimento" No. 1), Op.8/1, RV 269: Allegro

    1. Allegro  (03:32)
  9. Trumpet Concerto in D major, TWV 51:D7: Adagio

    1. Adagio  (02:07)
  10. Suite for orchestra No 3 in D major, BWV 1068: Air on the G String

    1. Air on the G String  (05:20)
  11. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Hallelujah Chorus

    1. Hallelujah Chorus  (03:40)
  12. Symphony No. 104 in D major ("London"), H. 1/104: Allegretto

    1. Allegretto  (05:25)
  13. Sinfonia in F major, Grave F7: Andante

    1. Andante  (02:11)
  14. Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major ("Eine kleine Nachtmusik"), K. 525: Allegro

    1. Allegro  (05:53)
  15. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27/2: Adagio

    1. Adagio  (05:19)
  16. Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 74 (J118): Andante

    1. Andante  (06:50)
  17. Stabat mater for 2 sopranos, tenor, bass, chorus, & orchestra: Quis est homo

    1. Quis est homo  (06:54)

Disc 2

  1. Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), song for voice & piano, D. 839 (Op. 52/6)  (04:53)
  2. Symphonie fantastique for orchestra ("Episode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties"), H.48 (Op. 14): Un Bal

    1. Un Bal  (06:31)
  3. A Midsummer Night's Dream, incidental music, Op. 61: Wedding March

    1. Wedding March  (06:25)
  4. Waltz for piano in D flat major ("Minute"), Op. 64/1, CT 212  (01:46)
  5. Symphony No. 1 in B flat major ("Spring"), Op. 38: Largo

    1. Largo  (05:33)
  6. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b: Ride of the Valkyries

    1. Ride of the Valkyries  (05:25)
  7. La Traviata, opera: Prelude

    1. Prelude  (03:54)
  8. Hungarian Dances (21) for orchestra, WoO1: Hungarian Dance No. 3

    1. Hungarian Dance No. 3  (02:20)
  9. The Swan Lake, ballet, Op. 20: Scène

    1. Scène  (02:43)
  10. Slavonic Dance No. 1 for orchestra in C major, B. 83/1 (Op. 46/1)  (03:52)
  11. Enigma Variations for orchestra, Op.36: Nimrod

    1. Nimrod  (03:42)
  12. Clair de lune, for piano, L. 75/3  (04:29)
  13. Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zoroaster), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 30: Opening

    1. Opening  (01:53)
  14. Prelude for piano No.1 in C sharp minor ("The Bells of Moscow"), Op. 3/2  (04:43)
  15. Fontane di Roma (The Fountains of Rome), symphonic poem, P. 106: Fountain of the Villa Medici at Sunset

    1. Fountain of the Villa Medici at Sunset  (06:10)
  16. Pulcinella, suite for orchestra: Overture

    1. Overture  (02:11)
  17. Carmina Burana, scenic cantata for soloists, choruses & orchestra: O Fortuna

    1. O Fortuna  (02:42)
  18. Simple Symphony, for string orchestra, Op. 4: Playful Pizzicato

    1. Playful Pizzicato  (03:22)
  19. Violin Concerto: 1st Movement

    1. 1st Movement  (06:47)

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A to Z of Classical Music 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this set a couple years ago and I play it weekly. I put one of the cd's in my car and the cd player was damaged and it "ate" my cd! Well I had to go out and get a new copy right away! A truly beautiful set. Good music for relaxing weekend mornings or background at dinner parties. I listen to mine all the time.
Matthew15 More than 1 year ago
The 2-CD set included in the new 3rd expanded edition of this release has a track listing different than what you see on this page. Click on the "back cover" picture, and it will show that the tracks (on this edition) are listed alphabetically, by composer. Of course, it's impossible to sum up the best classical works ever written on only 2 CDs, and the selections will always be debatable. But the CDs are maxed out at over 2 and a half hours total, and from Adams to Wagner, you're given a good cross-section of the different periods of classical music, and what they have to offer. The book has been expanded to 930+ pages, and although there are a few surprising omissions (Maw, Tan Dun, Whitacre... maybe the only composers in the book are ones on the Naxos label?), it's still a good source of reference for casual listeners, and those curious about composers they weren't otherwise familiar with. The price is definitely right, and you may wind up turning yourself onto something new!