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THE VERY BEST OF ...... Naxos Classical series
Two-CD sets for each of Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Puccini
Each set priced at £9.99
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This can only be the most cursory of round-ups rather than a proper review.
Presentation is simple yet eye-catching. Naxos use John Minnion’s caricatures of the composers. These are full and eloquent of character, eloquent yet clean of line.
I have not played every track. In fact most of these sets are still in their cellophane wrappers.
I have however sampled two of the ten sets: Puccini and Rachmaninov.
The price is what you might expect from sets that comprise favourite movements from larger works.
I would guess that all these tracks are sourced from the already humungous Naxos classical back catalogue. I say ‘guess’ because unusually these sets are pretty poor on listing who sings and plays which piece.
I have sampled the Puccini and the Rachmaninov. The Puccini Turandot is not specially glamorous but it has a better than good Nessun Dorma and a fine sequence of Boheme excerpts.
The Rachmaninov has a grippingly explosive First Symphonic Dance (made me want to hear the whole thing if only I could identify the artists) and Glemser’s measured and then volatile Third Piano Concerto.
You can see the game plan: Let’s use only the Naxos catalogue (no additional licensing fees). Let’s pack each CD high and tight though I note that there was still space on the Rachmaninov pair (only 66:37 + 68:11). Let’s include the famous best alongside the not so famous best: in the case f Rachmaninov we get resonant extracts from the Vespers with two sound-bytes from the operas - one each from Francesca and Aleko. Let’s make this a uniform edition: they’ll end up buying more than none if they look good on the shelf. Let’s keep the notes simple but let’s not shy from including some lightly educational material. Let’s include a juicy and catchy quote by or about the composer on the back of each set and add a card-sleeve to give the whole thing a touch of class - which it does.
Naxos are not afraid of making links to popular culture so the Rachmaninov sleeve refers to the use of the Second Piano Concerto in the 1940s weepy classic Brief Encounter.
The delights of these discs are not completely hedonistic. For example the bold, clean and simple notes include definitions of symphony and sonata and recommendation for further listening - quite naturally from the Naxos catalogue.
If you are in the market for a Christmas or birthday present for someone who enjoys the odd piece on Classic FM while listening in the car or doing the housework or keying in data then you could far worse than choosing one or two of these, some gift wrapping and waiting for the right moment to hand over the parcel.
Perhaps the set would sit in the car for a while or on the shelf in the kitchen. You however would have the pleasure of knowing that when the set is first played it is likely to open doors of discovery.
Rob Barnett

Full Track Listing - sadly artists details not available.
The Very Best of Vivaldi - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552101-02
2 CD Set
Including 12 Concerti grossi, Op. 3, "L'estro armonico": No. 10 in B minor, RV 580 • 12 Violin Concertos, Op. 4, "La stravaganza": No. 5 in A major, RV 347 • 12 Violin Sonatas, Op. 2: No. 2 in A major, RV 31 • 6 Flute Concertos, Op. 10: No. 1 in F major, RV 433, "La tempesta di mare" (The Storm at Sea) • 6 Flute Concertos, Op. 10: No. 2 in G minor, RV 439, "La notte" (The Night) • Bassoon Concerto in A minor, RV 498 • Chamber (Lute) Concerto in D major, RV 93: I. Allegro • Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor, RV 531 (excerpts) • Concerto for 2 Trumpets in C major, RV 537 • Concerto for Strings in G major, RV 151, "Alla Rustica" • Dixit Dominus in D major, RV 595: Gloria Patri, Sicut erat in principio - Et in saecula saeculorum • Gloria in D major, RV 589: I. Gloria in excelsis Deo • Griselda, RV 718: Aria: Agitata da due venti (Costanza) • Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425: I. Allegro • Nulla in mundo pax sincera, RV 630: I. Aria: Nulla in mundo pax sincera: Larghetto • Oboe Concerto in A minor, RV 461 • Sopranino Recorder Concerto in C major, RV 443 (excerpts) • Sopranino Recorder Concerto in C major, RV 444 • The 4 Seasons - Violin Concerto in E major, RV 269, "La primavera" (Spring): I. Allegro • The 4 Seasons - Violin Concerto in F major, RV 293, "L'autunno" (Autumn): I. Allegro • The 4 Seasons - Violin Concerto in F minor, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter): II. Largo • The 4 Seasons - Violin Concerto in G minor, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer): III. Presto • Tito Manlio, RV 778, Act I: Combatta un gentil cor
J S Bach: The Very Best of Bach - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552103-04
2 CD Set
Including Anna Magdalena Notenbuch: Minuet in G major, BWV Anh 114 • Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048: III. Allegro • Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049: I. Allegro • Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050: III. Allegro • Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 (excerpts) • Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: Jauchzet, frohlocket • Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043: II. Largo ma non tanto • Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060: II. Adagio • Concerto in the Italian Style, BWV 971, "Italian Concerto": I. Allegro • Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: I. Aria • Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052: I. Allegro • Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: X. Jesu, joy of man's desiring (arr. M. Hess) • Ich habe genug, BWV 82: III. Schlummert ein • Magnificat in D major, BWV 243: Magnificat • Mass in B minor, BWV 232: Agnus dei • Oboe Concerto in G minor, BWV 1056: II. Largo • Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: VII. Badinerie • Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: II. Air, "Air on a G String" • St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Erbarme dich, mein Gott • St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565: Toccata • Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041: III. Allegro assai • Violin Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006: I. Preludio • Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 • Weichet nur, betubte Schatten, BWV 202, "Wedding Cantata": I. Adagio • Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I: I. Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 846
L van Beethoven: The Very Best of Beethoven - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552105-06
2 CD set
Including Andante in F major, WoO 57, "Andante favori" • Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 59, "Fur Elise" • Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69: III. Adagio cantabile - Allegro vivace • Egmont, Op. 84: Overture • Fidelio, Op. 72, Act I: No. 9 Abscheulicher! wo eilst du hin? • Mass in D major, Op. 123, "Missa Solemnis": Benedictus • Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: III. Rondo: Vivace • Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73, "Emperor": Rondo: Allegro • Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27/2, "Moonlight": I. Adagio sostenuto • Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathetique": II. Adagio cantabile • Piano Trio No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 97, "Archduke": II. Scherzo • String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59/3, "Razumovsky": IV. Allegro molto • Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace • Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: I. Allegro con brio • Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral": I. Allegro ma non troppo • Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92: II. Allegretto • Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, "Choral": IV. Finale: Presto (excerpt) • Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61: III. Rondo: Allegro • Violin Sonata No. 5 in F major, Op. 24, "Spring": II. Adagio molto espressivo • Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, "Kreutzer": III. Finale: Presto
F Chopin: The Very Best of Chopin - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552107-08
2 CD set
Including 12 Etudes, Op. 10: No. 12 in C minor, "Revolutionary" • 12 Etudes, Op. 10: No. 3 in E major, "Tristesse" (Sadness) • 24 Preludes, Op. 28: No. 15 in D flat major • Andante spianato in G major, Op. 22: II. Grande polonaise brilliante • Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47 • Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60 • Berceuse in D flat major, Op. 57 • Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65: III. Largo • Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, Op. 66 • Mazurka No. 13 in A minor, Op. 17/4 • Mazurka No. 23 in D major, Op. 33/2 • Nocturne No. 19 in E minor, Op. 72/1 • Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 9/2 • Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor, Op. posth. • Nocturne No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 15/2 • Nocturne No. 8 in D flat major, Op. 27/2 • Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11: II. Romanza: Larghetto • Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21: II. Larghetto • Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35, "Funeral March": III. Marche funebre • Polonaise No. 6 in A flat major, Op. 53, "Heroic" • Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31 • Waltz No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 18, "Grande valse brillante" • Waltz No. 6 in D flat major, Op. 64/1, "Minute" • Waltz No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 64/2
G F Handel: : The Very Best of Handel - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552109-10
2 CD set
Including 6 Recorder Sonatas, Op. 1: No. 4 in A minor, HWV 362: II. Allegro • Concerto a due cori No. 3 in F major, HWV 334: III. A tempo ordinario • Concerto grosso in C major, HWV 318, "Alexander's Feast": III. Allegro • Concerto grosso No. 12 in B minor, HWV 330 (Op. 6): III. Larghetto, e piano - Variatio • Concerto grosso No. 3 in G major, HWV 317 (Op. 3): II. Allegro • Concerto grosso No. 6 in D major, HWV 317 (Op. 3): I. Vivace • Concerto grosso No. 6 in G minor, HWV 324 (Op. 6): I. Larghetto e affettuoso • Dixit Dominus, HWV 232: I. Dixit Dominus Domino meo • Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63, Part III: See, the conqu'ring hero comes! • Keyboard Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430: IV. Air and Variations, "The Harmonius Blacksmith" • Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: For unto us a child is born • Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Hallelujah • Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: He was despised • Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: How beautiful are the feet • Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: I know that my redeemer liveth • Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: III. La paix • Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: IV. Le rejouissance • Oboe Concerto No. 3 in G minor, HWV 287: III. Sarabande: Largo • Ode for St Cecilia's Day, HWV 76: IV. What passion cannot music raise and quell • Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV 74: I. Eternal source of light divine • Organ Concerto No. 13 in F major, HWV 295, "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale": II. Allegro • Rinaldo, HWV 7a: Lascia ch'io pianga (Let me lament) • Samson, HWV 57, Act III: Let the Bright Seraphim • Saul, HWV 53, Act III: Dead March: Grave • Serse (Xerxes), HWV 40, Act I: Ombra mai fu: Largo (Serse) • Solomon, HWV 67: VIII. Sinfonia, "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" • Te Deum in D major, HWV 283, "Dettingen": XII. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day • Violin Sonata No. 7 in D major, HWV 371: III. Larghetto • Water Music - Suite in D major, HWV 349: II. Alla Hornpipe • Water Music - Suite in F major, HWV 348: I. Overture • Water Music - Suite in F major, HWV 348: III. Allegro - Andante • Water Music - Suite in F major, HWV 348: VI. Air • Zadok the Priest, HWV 258
W A Mozart: The Very Best of Mozart - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552111-12
2 CD set
Including 3 German Dances, K. 605: No. 3 in C major, "Die Schlittenfahrt" (Sleigh Ride) • Ave verum corpus in D major, K. 618 • Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622: II. Adagio • Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581: II. Larghetto • Concerto for Flute and Harp in C major, K. 299: II. Andantino • Cosi fan tutte, K. 588, Act I: Soave sia il vento • Die Zauberflote, K. 620, Act II: Der Holle Rache, "Queen of the Night" • Don Giovanni, K. 527, Act I: La ci darem la mano • Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat major, K. 495: III. Rondo: Allegro vivace • Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492, Act I: Overture • Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492, Act II: Voi, che sapete • Mass No. 18 in C minor, K. 427, "Great": Kyrie • Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466: III. Allegro assai • Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, "Elvira Madigan": II. Andante • Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331: III. Rondo alla turca: Allegretto • Requiem in D minor, K. 626: Confutatis maledictis - Lacrimosa dies illa • Serenade No. 10 in B flat major, K. 361, "Gran Partita": III. Menuetto • Serenade No. 13 in G major, K. 525, "Eine kleine Nachtmusik": I. Allegro • String Quartet No. 17 in B flat major, K. 458, "Hunt": II. Minuetto: Moderato • Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183: I. Allegro con brio • Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: I. Molto allegro • Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 550, "Jupiter": IV. Molto allegro • Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, "Turkish": III. Rondo: Tempo di minuetto • Violin Sonata No. 26 in B flat major, K. 378: II. Andantino sostenuto e cantabile
S Rachmaninov: The Very Best of Rachmaninov - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552113-14
2 CD set
Including 10 Preludes, Op. 23: No. 2 in B flat major • 10 Preludes, Op. 23: No. 5 in G minor: Alla marcia • 13 Preludes, Op. 32: No. 12 in G sharp minor: Allegro • 5 Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 1 Elegie in E flat minor • 5 Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 2 Prelude in C sharp minor • 6 Moments musicaux, Op. 16: No. 3 Andante cantabile • 7 Morceaux de salon, Op. 10: No. 5 Humoresque in G major • 9 Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33: No. 8 in G minor: Moderato • 9 Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33: No. 9 in D major: Allegro moderato • Aleko: The Young Gypsy's Romance - See, beneath yon firmament • All-Night Vigil, Op. 37, "Vespers": Bless the Lord, O my soul • All-Night Vigil, Op. 37, "Vespers": Troparion for the Virgin Mary (Bogoroditse Dyevo) • Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: III. Andante • Daisies, Op. 38, No. 3 (piano version) • Francesca da Rimini, Op. 25: Act I: Francesca's Aria • Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18: II. Adagio sostenuto • Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30: I. Allegro ma non tanto • Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36 (1931 version) • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43: Variations 18 - 24 • Symphonic Dance, Op. 45, No. 1: Non allegro • Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27: III. Adagio • Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
J Strauss II: The Very Best of Johann Strauss II - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552115-16
2 CD set
Including An der schonen, blauen Donau (The Beautiful, Blue Danube), waltz, Op. 314 • Annen-Polka, Op. 117 • Champagner-Polka (Champagne Polka), Op. 211 • Das Spitzentuch der Konigin: Rosen aus dem Suden (Roses from the South), waltz, Op. 388 • Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gipsy Baron), Act I: Overture • Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gipsy Baron), Act II: Wer uns getraut • Die Fledermaus (The Bat), Act I: Overture • Die Fledermaus (The Bat), Act II: Ach, meine Herr'n und Damen • Die Fledermaus (The Bat), Act II: Klange der Heimat [Csardas] • Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice): Quadrille, Op. 416, "Komm in die Gondel" • Eljen a Magyar! (Hail to Hungary!), Schnell-Polka, Op. 332 • Fruhlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), waltz, Op. 410 • Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald (Tales from the Vienna Woods), waltz, Op. 325 • Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor Waltz), Op. 437 • Kunstlerleben (Artists' Life), waltz, Op. 316 • Leichtes Blut (Light as a Feather), Polka schnell, Op. 319 • Perpetuum mobile (Perpetual Motion), Op. 257 • Persischer Marsch (Persian March), Op. 289 • Pizzicato Polka • Tik Tak, Polka (schnell), Op. 365 • Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, Op. 214 • Unter Donner und Blitz (Thunder and Lightning), Schnell-Polka, Op. 324 • Wein, Weib und Gesang (Wine, Women and Song), waltz, Op. 333 • Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood), waltz, Op. 354 • Wiener bonbons (Viennese Bonbons), waltz, Op. 307
P I Tchaikovsky: The Very Best of Tchaikovsky - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552117-18
2 CD set
Including 12 morceaux, Op. 40: No. 2. Chanson triste in G minor • 1812 Overture, Op. 49 • 6 morceaux, Op. 19: No. 4. Nocturne in C sharp minor (arr. for cello and orchestra) • Eugene Onegin, Op. 24, Act II Scene 2: Where, o where have you gone?, "Lensky's Aria" • Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op. 41: The Cherubic Hymn • None but the lonely heart, Op. 6, No. 6 • Nutcracker, Op. 71a: III. Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy - VII. Dance of the Reeds • Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23: I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso • Romeo and Juliet - Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare: Love Theme • Serenade in C major, Op. 48: I. Pezzo in forma di Sonatina • Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66, Act I No. 8: Pas d'action: Adagio • String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11: II. Andante cantabile • Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act I No. 2: Waltz in A flat (Corps de Ballet) • Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act II No. 10: Scene, "Swan Theme" • Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36: IV. Allegro con fuoco • Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64: Waltz: "Allegro moderato" • Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathetique": II. Allegro con grazia • The Nutcracker, Op. 71a: VIII. Waltz of the Flowers • The Seasons, Op. 37b: VI. June: Barcarolle • Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: III. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo
G Puccini: The Very Best of Puccini - Various Artists

Label - Naxos
Cat. No. - 8552119-20
2 CD set
Including Crisantemi (version for string orchestra) • Edgar, Act III: Prelude • Gianni Schicchi: Firenze e come un albero (Rinuccio) • Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro (Lauretta) • La Boheme (excerpts) • La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West), Act III: Ch'ella mi creda (Johnson) • La Rondine (The Swallow), Act I: Chi'il bel sogno di Doretta (Magda) • Le Villi (The Willis), Act I: Se come voi piccina io fossi (Anna) • Le Villi (The Willis), Act II: La Tregenda (Witches' Dance) • Madama Butterfly (excerpts) • Manon Lescaut, Act I: Donna non vidi mai (Des Grieux) • Manon Lescaut, Act II: In quelle trine morbide (Manon Lescaut) • Manon Lescaut, Act III: Intermezzo • Manon Lescaut, Act IV: Sola, perduta, abbandonata (Manon Lescaut) • Messa di Gloria: Credo in unum Deum • Messa di Gloria: Et incarnatus est • Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica): Senza Mamma (Angelica) • Tosca (excerpts) • Tosca, Act III: E lucevan le stelle (Cavaradossi) • Turandot (excerpts) • Turandot, Act III Scene 1: Nessun dorma (Calaf)


information received

I just read your review today of Naxos' "Very Best of..." series and
wanted to let you know that the performers of Rachmaninov's Symphonic
Dances are conductor Enrique Batiz and the Royal Philharmonic. Actually,
if you are interested, nearly anything from Maestro Batiz is superb.

Hope this helps you!

Brian Reinhart



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