Barber: Adagio for Strings by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an Argo CD that is a long-standing favorite from the LP catalog. Recorded in 1976, in its LP incarnation this issue went a long way toward dispelling the notion that English orchestras were too heavy in body and provincial in tone to interpret American orchestral music in an effective way.
György Ligeti was a member in good standing of the musical avant-garde of the mid-20th century, while Samuel Barber was, at the same time, one of the most prominent neo-Romantic composers. They would seem to be an odd couple on this 2013 release on ECM New Series, for Ligeti's two string quartets and Barber's Molto adagio from the String Quartet No. 2 (known in various arrangements as "Barber's Adagio") appear to come from opposing camps, if not different worlds.
While Gil Shaham's interpretation of Barber's violin concerto may have been more soulful, or David Zinman's interpretation of his Music for a Scene From Shelley more dramatic, no one would say that James Buswell's interpretation of the concerto is anything less than heartfelt or that Marin Alsop's interpretation of the Shelley music is anything less than affecting.
For many their first encounter with classical music will be through its use in films and this collection makes a fantastic entry point to this rich and diverse world. Helpfully all tracks list the films alongside the music, so there will be no doubt as to where the music is familiar from. Classical music has been used to memorable effect in films many times from Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now to Barber s Adagio in Platoon and from Also sprach Zarathustra in 2001: A Space Odyssey to Beethoven s Ninth in A Clockwork Orange. Occasionally, as in the case of Mozart s Piano Concerto No.21 used in Elvira Madigan, the film title has provided a lasting nickname for the music. All these favourites are included here.
With the stresses and strains of modern life to contend with, many turn to classical music for solace and this varied collection of over seven and a half hours of relaxing favorites is the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life. The set is themed and starts with two CDs of choral music, many of which are vocal arrangements of familiar favorites. These are followed by CDs devoted respectfully to flute and harp, the classical guitar, piano and orchestral music. Those who enjoyed the 101 Adagios set will find much to enjoy here, and can be reassured that any duplication is kept to an absolute minimum and where it does occur, is in strikingly different arrangements. The artists at the helm of this relaxing journey include the choirs of King s College Cambridge and the New College Oxford, flautist William Bennett and harpist Marisa Robles, Pepe Romero, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert von Karajan and Sir Georg Solti.
Limited edition 100 CD box set on the premiere classical label Deutsch Grammophon. Subtitled from Gregorian Chant to Gorecki. For some it will be the ultimate reference tool. For others a big place to start on something they always wanted to know about. Either way, the idea is to present a comprehensive history of Classical Music from its origins to the present day, covering all periods, including all major composers.