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Symphonies - Released May 30, 2007 | Berlin Classics

As part of Berlin Classics' multivolume Moods series, Sensual Tunes presents short classical pieces and movements from larger works that will suit most relaxation purposes and provides over an hour of melodic favorites in solid performances with pleasant reproduction. The music has been taken from albums first released by Edel Classics, and some of the recordings predate digital technology, so there is a mix of ADD and DDD tracks. All the same, the sound has been carefully mastered to even out sound levels and make volume adjustments unnecessary. The mellow selections by Giuseppe Verdi, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Georges Bizet amply represent the Romantic era, and many will be familiar to even the most casual classical listener, while the later works by Zoltán Kodály, Max Reger, and Maurice Ravel give an agreeable sampling of the early modern period. With such world-class orchestras as the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and with lesser ranked ensembles such as the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Dresdner Philharmonic, and the Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester, the performances run from fine to excellent, though none of them are sub-par; under the direction of eight conductors, the interpretations are somewhat variable in style but never less than acceptable. This budget compilation is great for beginners, though most experienced listeners will find it dispensable.
£10.79

Symphonies - Released May 30, 2007 | Berlin Classics

As part of Berlin Classics' Moods series, Peaceful Inspirations offers rather interesting excerpts and short pieces, though most of these set moods quite at odds with the album's title. The selections by such modern masters as Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Kodály, and Hindemith, among others, are a refreshing change of fare from the expected Pachelbel Canon or Albinoni Adagio, and it's gratifying to see that the roster of performers includes several fine orchestras and conductors, including the famous Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Dresden Staatskapelle. But listeners will find that the music is often far from peaceful, even though it is all inspired. Ravel's Le jardin féerique and Pavane pour une infante défunte, Tchaikovsky's "Arabian Dance" from the Nutcracker, and Respighi's "Italiana" from Ancient Airs and Dances are consistently restrained in mood, but the rest of the selections have loud and fast sections that tend to be too exciting for this collection's stated aim and are often fairly tense in feeling and flamboyant in style. (Note in particular the Scherzo moderato from Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, which is nothing short of rousing). Had this CD been titled "Exotic Inspirations," then the program would be a perfect match since the pieces touch on fairy tales and distant locales and the music shimmers throughout with fantastic instrumental colors. For a mellower sampler by the same label, try Sensual Tunes, which is far more subdued and relaxing than this disc.