PASTORAL CLASSICS – Music for a Summer’s Day – Various artists – Chandos (2 CDs)

by | Aug 4, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

PASTORAL CLASSICS – Music for a Summer’s Day – Various artists – Chandos CHAN 241-35 (2 CDs) 78:15, 78:04 ****:

It’s not unreasonable to think that compilations will become the dominant art form for recordings in the 21st century. After all, even the most highly motivated music lover can only absorb so much of the vast amount of music that’s available from the last half millennium and before. Besides, compilations such as this one from Chandos can simultaneously act as an introduction to new music by composers both familiar and unfamiliar, a quiz of your musical knowledge, and an opportunity, when the label is Chandos, to enjoy an audiophile earfest.

Such a compilation is Pastoral Classics which at a very moderate price gives you more than two and a half hours of music, much of it glorious and most of it splendidly recorded. Plus, in addition to the familiar (the slow movement from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Greensleeves), you get a lot of unfamiliar, extraordinarily beautiful music.

There’s harmonica virtuoso Tommy Reilly and harpist Skaila Kanga playing two British folksongs, violinist Lydia Mordkovitch playing drop dead gorgeous movements from music by Herbert Howells and George Dyson, the London Symphony playing George Butterworth’s lovely The Banks of Green Willow, an Intermezzo from Prokofiev’s War and Peace, and much more besides, all in demonstration quality sound.

And if you’re actually looking for music for a summer’s day, and incline towards English sensibilities about beauty and world-class playing and sound, there can be no better set than this!

– Laurence Vittes

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