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Ultimate Berlioz - The Essential Masterpieces

Conductors Charles Dutoit, Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel, Roger Norrington and Zubin Mehta Orchestras: Cleveland Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Montréal Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Performers: Cleveland Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra, Gillian Hull, Hazel Holt, Heinrich Schutz Choir, Jeffrey Budin, John Alldis Choir, London Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Chorus, Montréal Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chorus, New York Philharmonic, Nobuko Imai, Peter Smith, Ryland Davies, Sarah Walker

Universal Decca 4781746 [5 CDs; no booklet]

To find out what they are, and listen to samples, go to http://www.tower.com/ultimate-berlioz-essential-masterpieces-charles-dutoit-cd/wapi/113629906.

What to say about a production like this?

Ultimate, essential...? Yes, the main favourites are there, and with them a few not so, like Tristia, Tantum ergo, Veni creator and Le Temple universel; I guess that you readers don't know them all...

Those I've sampled are perfectly sound-to-excellent modern recordings, and they'll be fine for putting on the record player, maybe whilst doing something else. But you'd need a good book, or to do a lot of research, to get the background information which is so necessary for informed listening... But maybe that's how it's going for the downloading generation - put music on the iPod and play it at "shuffle", which some like to do...

Well, it's only $19 from Amazon.com and by clicking onto that page you'll get a good, not-uncritical expert review too, which I commend (or $12 from Blowitoutahere.com).

But, oh dear, oh dear, how long will it be before major record companies put onto their websites (easily and inexpensively) the information which will have been provided with the original releases of the items in these bargain boxes (we have raised this topic repeatedly,q.v. e.g. Haydn operas (also Universal).

Until then, we can't recommend this compilation; but, then, our readers won't be seeking advice from Musical Pointers on this sort of thing...

Peter Grahame Woolf