AN ELOQUENCE SERIES from UNIVERSAL
For many years the bulk of budget classical discs were disdained by reviewers.
I am not sure why this was (perhaps because review copies were not submitted?)
but I do know that this deprived those on tight budgets of commentary on
accessibly priced discs. For those for whom the budget was not an issue it
was as if the sub-class of budget discs did not exist or should be shunned.
In the vinyl era bargain labels like Ace of Clubs, Classics for Pleasure,
Turnabout, Contour and Eclipse were reviewed but drifts of LPs imported from
Europe and the Eastern bloc were still studiously ignored. So it was that
LPs sported by Woolworths, market stalls, supermarkets and garage forecourts
with orchestras from Poland, Bulgaria and unfamiliarly named orchestras from
the bigger cities remained the province of the curious, of students and,
to use that Dickensian phrase, the impecunious.
With the appearance on the CD scene of Naxos, pitching their prices
at £5 a disc, the majors began steadily to respond to market forces.
The Panorama series and a host of predecessor 'twofer' marques plus single
CD series such as the HMV shops' own label have well and truly affirmed the
phenomenon of the budget price disc.
Now along comes Universal's Eloquence series. This draws on superb back catalogue
material from the coffers of Decca, DG and Philips. On the evidence discs
reviewed here Universal have chosen their material with much more consistent
(if not perfect) acuity than has been the case with the Panorama series which
has been good but mixed.