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20th-century Masterpieces - 100 Years Of Classical Music


Release Date: 11/24/2008 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 17500   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sergei RachmaninovClaude DebussyFrederick DeliusGustav Mahler,   ... 
Performer:  Leif Ove AndsnesChrista LudwigMartha ArgerichSarah Chang,   ... 
Conductor:  Antonio PappanoCarlo Maria GiuliniSir Thomas BeechamOtto Klemperer,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Number of Discs: 16 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 18 Hours 37 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

One of the criteria for a Hall of Fame entry is availability, so this vast 16-CD set may not apply for long. It is unlikely to continue to be in print for years to come, so snatch it up while you can. Several of the performances above have been reissued many times and some, such as du Pré’s Elgar, Boult’s Planets, and Isserlis’s Protecting Veil, are regarded as classic recordings.

The set covers 96 years of “masterpieces,” from Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto of 1901 to Thomas Adès’ Asyla of 1997, and presents them in chronological order (as listed above). It is a handy and reasonably comprehensive overview of 20th-century music: useful as a reference, although notes are too scanty for serious study, and
Read more great fun to dip into. A plus is that the works are presented in their entirety, not excerpted—with the exception of the “Abschied” movement from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (another “classic” performance from Christa Ludwig and Otto Klemperer).

The chronological layout brings up odd bedfellows: Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima shares a disc with Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story. And it comes as a surprise to realize that Vaughan Williams’s lark was ascending at around the same time Stravinsky stunned the Paris elite with his primitive rite.

With such a large collection, inevitably faults can be found. Are all these works truly “20th-century masterpieces”? Landowski’s Adagio cantabile, Khachaturian’s Masquerade, and Maw’s Dance Scenes probably don’t qualify, and while it is well known, Fanfare for the Common Man is hardly Copland’s masterwork. Surely Appalachian Spring would have been the obvious choice. Other notable omissions include Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Messiaen’s Turangalila-symphonie, and the American repertoire generally. Henze, Schnittke, and Birtwistle are composers who might have been more strongly represented than they are, but the later music in this set is of course limited by what EMI could find in their archive.

Performances are generally of a high standard, and some are outstanding. Examples include Beecham’s Delius (Brigg Fair) and Rostropovich in Dutilleux’s cello concerto, “Tout un monde lointain . . .”. Simon Rattle and his old Birmingham band get the lion’s share, but theirs are fine recordings, especially of Schoenberg, Webern, Adams’s short piece “The Chairman Dances” and Adès’s Asyla. Martha Argerich is the only soloist who doubles up: we get her Bartók and her light-fingered approach to Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto. (Another odd choice, as the Prokofiev Third is arguably the composer’s masterpiece, and EMI holds some excellent versions of it, including Beroff, François, and Argerich herself. Maybe they needed something from the year of the First.)

Composers conduct their own works where possible. In the case of Lutos?awski’s Concerto for Orchestra, the result is a little rough, notably in the trumpet section. The EMI alternative was a tighter rendition under Ozawa, leading the infinitely superior Chicago SO. Still, having Lutos?awski on the podium makes it a historical document. Unfortunately, this policy is not consistent. Why didn’t they choose Tippett’s own performance of his Fantasia concertante, originally on Virgin Classics, instead of the cautious, rough-edged, and ancient recording with Barshai?

Nina Stemme’s singing of Strauss’s Four Last Songs is a fine modern recording, but, again, I am surprised by its inclusion when EMI had Schwarzkopf/Szell and Popp/Tennstedt at their disposal.

Nit-picking aside, I was delighted to become reacquainted with some old favorite performances. Giulini’s La mer, Frühbeck de Burgos’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, and his 1966 Carmina burana were the recordings I learned these works from. To my mind, clouded perhaps by nostalgia, no one has ever touched Lucia Popp in Orff’s masterpiece, and I still prefer Raymond Wolansky’s abbot above all others. (Wolansky was an American baritone who spent his entire operatic career in Stuttgart. He died in 1998.) Milhaud’s La création du monde is an old friend too; as I indicated in a previous Hall of Fame review, it has been noticeably cleaned up in its “Great Recordings of the Century” restoration. This appears to be the same incarnation.

With neat packaging and an ultra-low price, this set is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a gift for some nascent music-lover, or even for yourself as a set of alternative performances. Musically speaking, the 20th century was not as forbidding as we were led to believe.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in C minor, Op. 18 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 32 Minutes 12 Secs. 
2.
La mer by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 25 Minutes 29 Secs. 
3.
Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 15 Minutes 50 Secs. 
4.
Das Lied von der Erde: no 6, Der Abschied by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christa Ludwig ()
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1908-1909; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 29 Minutes 50 Secs. 
5.
Pieces (5) for Orchestra, Op. 16 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, U 
Length: 18 Minutes 6 Secs. 
6.
Pieces (6) for orchestra, Op. 6 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: Modern 
Written: 1909; Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/29/1988 
Venue:  Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, U 
Length: 11 Minutes 13 Secs. 
7.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in D flat major, Op. 10 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1912; Russia 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal, Canad 
Length: 15 Minutes 15 Secs. 
8.
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
Venue:  Watford Town Hall, Watford, Hertfordshir 
Length: 31 Minutes 27 Secs. 
9.
The lark ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Sarah Chang (Violin)
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914/1920; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 43 Secs. 
10.
Symphony no 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Paavo Berglund
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915/1919; Finland 
Venue:  Culture House, Helsinki, Finland 
Length: 30 Minutes 24 Secs. 
11.
Nights in the gardens of Spain by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Gonzalo Soriano (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1915; Spain 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Length: 25 Minutes 20 Secs. 
12.
The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 47 Minutes 5 Secs. 
13.
Concerto for Cello in E minor, Op. 85 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Jacqueline Du Pré (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; England 
Date of Recording: 08/19/1965 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 29 Minutes 30 Secs. 
14.
Symphony no 5, Op. 50 by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; Denmark 
Venue:  Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 
Length: 34 Minutes 28 Secs. 
15.
Mouvement symphoniques (3): no 1, Pacific 231 by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Konserthus, Oslo, Norway 
Length: 6 Minutes 32 Secs. 
16.
La création du monde, Op. 81 by Darius Milhaud
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Length: 16 Minutes 53 Secs. 
17.
Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; Rome, Italy 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 19 Minutes 58 Secs. 
18.
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin
Performer:  André Previn (Piano)
Conductor:  André Previn
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 59 Secs. 
19.
Sinfonietta by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Brno, Czech Republic 
Venue:  Walthamstow Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 24 Minutes 49 Secs. 
20.
Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 16 Minutes 19 Secs. 
21.
Symphony "Mathis der Maler" by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Memorail Hall, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 27 Minutes 11 Secs. 
22.
Concerto for Violin by Alban Berg
Performer:  Frank Peter Zimmermann (Violin)
Conductor:  Gianluigi Gelmetti
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; Austria 
Venue:  Villa Berg, SDR Studio, Stuttgart, Germa 
Length: 25 Minutes 36 Secs. 
23.
Symphony no 5 in D minor, Op. 47 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USSR 
Venue:  Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 46 Minutes 34 Secs. 
24.
Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Gillian Weir (Organ)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1988 
Venue:  Royal Festival Hall, London, England 
Length: 23 Minutes 3 Secs. 
25.
Carmina burana by Carl Orff
Performer:  Gerhard Unger (), Raymond Wolansky (), John Noble (),
Lucia Popp ()
Conductor:  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Germany 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 56 Minutes 21 Secs. 
26.
Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Rome, Italy 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 8 Minutes 35 Secs. 
27.
Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar by Joaquin Rodrigo
Performer:  Angel Romero (Guitar)
Conductor:  André Previn
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; Spain 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 5 Secs. 
28.
Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; England 
Venue:  Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, U 
Length: 20 Minutes 36 Secs. 
29.
Fanfare for the common man by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Enrique Bátiz
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1985 
Venue:  Nezahualcóyotl Concert Hall, Mexico City 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
30.
Masquerade: Waltz by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Efrem Kurtz
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USSR 
Date of Recording: 04/28/1961 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 18 Secs. 
31.
Masquerade: Galop by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Efrem Kurtz
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USSR 
Date of Recording: 04/28/1961 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
32.
Concerto for Piano no 3, Sz 119 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Venue:  L'Église de St-Eustache, Montreal, Canad 
Length: 24 Minutes 13 Secs. 
33.
Four Last Songs, AV 150 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Nina Stemme ()
Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1948; Germany 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 20 Minutes 28 Secs. 
34.
Fantasia concertante on a theme of Corelli by Michael Tippett
Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; England 
Date of Recording: 07/02/1962 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 18 Minutes 35 Secs. 
35.
Concerto for Orchestra by Witold Lutoslawski
Conductor:  Witold Lutoslawski
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; Poland 
Venue:  Polish Radio & TV Studio, Katowice, Pola 
Length: 28 Minutes 26 Secs. 
36.
Concerto for Cello by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Lynn Harrell (Cello)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1974; England 
Date of Recording: 12/21/1991 
Venue:  Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, U 
Length: 29 Minutes 52 Secs. 
37.
Le soleil des eaux, for soprano, SATB chorus & orchestra by Pierre Boulez
Performer:  Barry McDaniel (), Joséphine Nendick (), Louis Devos ()
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1950-1965 
Date of Recording: 03/05/1964 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 8 Minutes 16 Secs. 
38.
Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Krzysztof Penderecki
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; Poland 
Venue:  Katowice, Poland 
Length: 10 Minutes 3 Secs. 
39.
West Side Story: Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein
Conductor:  Paavo Järvi
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 43 Secs. 
40.
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum by Olivier Messiaen
Conductor:  Serge Baudo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Length: 25 Minutes 20 Secs. 
41.
Tragoedia by Harrison Birtwistle
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 11 Minutes 21 Secs. 
42.
Concerto for Cello "Tout un monde lointain" by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello)
Conductor:  Serge Baudo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968-1970; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Length: 28 Minutes 18 Secs. 
43.
Symphony no 3, Op. 36 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Performer:  Zofia Kilanowisz ()
Conductor:  Jacek Kaspszyk
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; Poland 
Date of Recording: 09/05/1993 
Venue:  Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene, Wroclaw, 
Length: 56 Minutes 15 Secs. 
44.
Barcarola per grande orchestra "In memoriam Paul Dessau" by Hans Werner Henze
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/25/1992 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 21 Minutes 23 Secs. 
45.
Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  Martin Roscoe (Piano), Tasmin Little (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; USSR 
Date of Recording: 09/1993 
Venue:  Abbey Church, Milton Abbey School, Bland 
Length: 8 Minutes 30 Secs. 
46.
Water-ways by Toru Takemitsu
Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Japan 
Date of Recording: 02/1990-03/1990 
Venue:  St. Barnabas' Church, Finchley, London, 
Length: 10 Minutes 18 Secs. 
47.
The Chairman Dances by John Adams
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 12 Minutes 52 Secs. 
48.
The Protecting Veil by John Tavener
Performer:  Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 43 Minutes 19 Secs. 
49.
Adagio Cantabile, for oboe, English horn, percussion & strings by Marcel Landowski
Conductor:  Marcel Landowski
Period: Modern 
Written: 1991 
Venue:  Grand Plateau du Conservatoire National 
Length: 10 Minutes 3 Secs. 
50.
Drowned out by Mark-Anthony Turnage
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992-1993; England 
Date of Recording: 03/18/1994 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 36 Secs. 
51.
Menuet for Violin, Viola and Cello by Alfred Schnittke
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Yuri Bashmet (Viola), Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Venue:  Studio 103, Radio France, Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
52.
Dance Scenes by Nicholas Maw
Conductor:  Daniel Harding
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; England 
Date of Recording: 10/26/1995 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England 
Length: 18 Minutes 10 Secs. 
53.
Asyla by Thomas Adès
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1997; England 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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