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Brilliant Classics

Meditation: Classical melodies for a peaceful mind
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Slavonic Dance, for orchestra in E minor Op.72 No.2
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)

Gymnopédie No. 2 for piano
Giovanni PERGOLESI (1710-1736)

Stabat Mater dolorosa, from the Stabat Mater, for soprano, counter-tenor, string ensemble and organ
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Clair de lune, for harp
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Adagio, from sonata No. 3 for piano and violin
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)

Adagio, from Piano Concerto
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Berceuse, for piano
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Adagio, from Cello Concerto
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Des Abends, from Fantasiestücke, for piano
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Adagio, from Symphony No. 2
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

Adagietto, from L’Arlésienne Suite, for orchestra
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Parsifal: Prelude, for orchestra
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Après un rêve, for harp
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1, for piano
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)

Intermezzo, from Goyescas, for cello and piano
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Andante, from Piano Concerto No. 2
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Venetian Gondola Song, for piano
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

The Young Prince and Princess, from Scheherazade, for orchestra
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Traumerei (Dreaming), for piano
Anatoli LIADOV (1855-1914)

The Enchanted Lake, for orchestra
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Andante, from Piano Concerto No. 1
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Andante, from Violin Concerto in G minor BWV 1056
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

In Paradisum, from Requiem, for 2 solo voices chorus, organ and orchestra, Op. 48
Various soloists and orchestras. No recording dates or locations given.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92225 [77:47+60:28]

Yet another compilation release packed full of twenty-three slow movements from famous works of renowned composers. On this occasion super-budget label Brilliant Classics have assembled a double CD collection from their ever-increasing back catalogue using the theme of Meditation: classical melodies for a peaceful mind.

On this type of release there certainly does seem to be a distinct trend for classical music for relaxation purposes only, without featuring the quicker, louder, energetic and more exciting movements that are available to listeners. I certainly cannot imagine the experienced classical music listener being interested in purchasing this type of compilation album but it would undoubtedly serve as a wonderful introduction to the classics for the interested newcomer who may be hearing these works for the first time.

I was about to say that all the usual suspects such as Dvořák, Brahms, Satie, Grieg, Chopin et al are included but a second perusal of the contents list discloses that there is no contribution from Mozart and surprisingly the almost obligatory Canon from Pachelbel, Adagio from Albinoni and the Adagio for Strings from Samuel Barber are all absent. The blend of different genres of classical music is well thought out from heavyweight symphonic works by Wagner and Brahms to substantial romantic sonatas for piano and violin by Brahms to smaller-scale solo piano and solo harp works by Satie and Fauré.

Amongst the great music featured here there is an especially commanding and expressive performance of the Parsifal: Prelude by Richard Wagner by Yuri Simonov and the Philharmonia Orchestra, an extremely characterful and polished interpretation of the second Brahms piano concerto from soloist Karin Lachner and the Berliner Symphoniker under Eduardo Marturet and a confident and stately reading of the Adagio from Brahms’ second symphony by the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest Holland under Jaap van Zweden.

I must single out the colourful and expressive performances of the Debussy Clair de lune and Fauré’s Après un rêve from harpist Euian Jones and a spontaneous and tender reading of the Chopin B flat major Nocturne from pianist Misha Goldstein.

There are three or four performances which were not to my taste, in particular over-romantic violin playing from Emmy Verhey and the plodding orchestral accompaniment in the Andante from the J.S. Bach G minor violin concerto, the extremely slow and ponderous piano playing from Misha Goldstein in Schumann’s Traumerei (Dreaming) and a rather lacklustre interpretation of Liadov’s The Enchanted Lake, from Ivan Shpiller’s Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra.

Brilliant Classics offer no booklet notes and have missed a marketing opportunity to give the listener the details of the actual releases that these works are taken from. As movements specially chosen for their melodic accessibility whilst relaxing and soothing the listener this release from Brilliant Classics eminently serves its purpose. Entitled Meditation: Classical melodies for a peaceful mind this release delivers just what it says on the box.

Michael Cookson

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