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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


An Introduction to ‘The Life and Works of the Great Composers’
Pyotr Iljich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Ferencz LISZT (1811-1886)

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco VERDI (1813-1901)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Written and narrated by Jeremy Siepmann
With various actors playing leading roles and musical selections from records in the Naxos catalogue
NAXOS 8.558128 [61:47]

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"There are many pieces of music which can succeed in their effect only when they are heard whole, and their dismemberment for ‘theatrical’ effect would be almost sacrilegious". So writes Jeremy Siepmann in the accompanying insert to "An Introduction to ‘The Life and works of the Great Composers’". It’s true that many of the musical extracts contained in the set on Verdi that I reviewed are extensive, and genuinely serve the aim of this excellent series.

So far the series has covered all those included in this sampler, and, if the Verdi set is anything to go by, they are all extremely well put together and will handsomely repay the money spent and the time given over to listen to the fascinating accounts of these wonderful musicians. This sampler disc gives a taster of each of the above by way of two extracts from each set and follows the same format of narration, readings from diaries, correspondence, newspaper articles, reviews, etc., and, of course, music to highlight it all. Having so thoroughly enjoyed the set on Verdi it was positively hard to listen to this disc, as it was so tantalising to hear what Clara Wieck wrote about Brahms, how Liszt took up with women of wealth and influence, (whether married or not!), how Chopin created a musical expression of nationalist feeling in a Russian occupied Poland, without being able to hear the rest of the story.

I’ve been well and truly hooked and know absolutely what will be on my wish lists for many birthdays and Christmases to come!

Steve Arloff



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