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Music Reviews

Classical Music - Part 4 - November, 1997

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Ratings:
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Classics for Relaxation Classics for Relaxation, Volume Two

Beethoven, Dvorak, Haydn, Liszt, Bruckner

 

Excelsior Classic Gold; EXL-2-4242; DDD; $3.99.

Performance: ***
Audio:              ****

I can tell from our registration info that we have a lot of Type A personalities on the readership. I am Type A myself, so I decided to review a few relaxation albums for your convenience. The idea for this type of relaxation therapy is to listen to music that has a rhythm like the heartbeat, i.e., about 60 beats per minute. You sit back in a comfortable chair with a cat on your lap, a nice cup of warm decaf, the lights down low, and the volume at just above a whisper. Close your eyes and, with each breath, relax your muscles and sink deeper into the chair. Imagine yourself in a favorite non-stressful place, such as the beach. Classics for Relaxation, Volume Two, contains an hour of very easy-listening music by several classical composers, and includes organ, piano, and strings. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is perhaps the most recognizable. This particular album is a bit melancholy, so play it when you are in a good mood but just wound up a bit too tight. You will probably find that anxiety levels, heart rate, and blood pressure drop, and it feels great.

JEJ

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Brahms Piano Concerto
Number 2 Brahms Piano Concerto Number 2 in B Flat Major, Opus 83

Maurizio Pollini; Berliner Philharmonic - Claudio Abbado

 

Deutsche Grammophon; 453 505-2; DDD

Performance: ****
Audio:              ***

Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897) was one of the three "B"s half a century ago (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms), and then fell out of the spotlight, relinquishing it to Mozart. Nevertheless, he is still considered one of the finest composers of the Romantic Period. Only two piano concertos survived his tantrums of destroying works he felt were not very good. This second concerto has an extra movement, the Allegro appassionato, when normally a concerto has only three movements. The melodies are truly wonderful, with cello opposite the piano. If you are a Brahms aficionado, then you probably already own one of the several dozen recordings available for this masterpiece.

JEJ

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Vivaldi Concerto for 2
Mandolins Vivaldi Concerto for 2 Mandolins; 14 Concertos

New London Consort - Philip Pickett; The Academy of Ancient Music - Christopher Hogwood

 

L'Oiseau - Lyre; 455 703-2; DDD, ADD

Performance: ****
Audio:              ****

Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) epitomizes the Baroque Period, with his chamber music that hypnotizes. These 14 concertos, on two CDs, comprise a collection from three different sets of musicians, some of whom recorded more than 20 years ago. The older recordings have been digitally remastered, and are on the second disc. Disc 1 has concertos for mandolins, lute, recorder, and violin, while Disc 2's concertos are for trumpet, cello, and flute. The music is very mesmerizing, perhaps boring at times, but that is Baroque for you. I listen to quite a bit of this type of music, and for those who appreciate Vivaldi, this is a very nice set of recordings, many of which I did not have before.

JEJ

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Copyright 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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