At these low prices, this is an absolute STEAL!
Squire Jaco | Buffalo, NY USA | 07/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, there are better performances of most of these works out there somewhere. But this is the only place where you will get all of these great, stylistically-similar works all in one convenient, INEXPENSIVE package. Buy it.
When I was just beginning to amass my extensive classical music library about 12 years ago, this is one of those hidden gems I happened to find in a bargain bin. The Massenet and Chaminade concertos are fairly well-known pieces, and admirably represented here; very beautiful, lush pieces in the Romantic style. Pierne and Lalo, though fairly familiar composers, are not typically known for these concertos. That's a shame - these are GREAT compositions, similar in style to the Massenet and Chaminade (though the recording of the Pierne is admittedly somewhat muddy).
The Roussel and Francaix works are a bit more modern, of course, but very melodic and interesting, and well-played and recorded. The Boieldieu is a shorter, more Classical piece.
But the real deal here is the fantastic booklet that comes with the CDs, with in-depth notes that include the history of the composers, and extensive overviews of their important works. For someone like me who likes to mine deeper into the catalog of certain composers that interest me, these notes were essential in my acquisition of and appreciation for so much more music.
Only 4 stars because of the occasional performance or recording imperfection, but this is still a notable (and special) CD in my collection. Recommended!
I value interesting music that is played and recorded well. This cd's rating was based on:
Music quality = 9.3/10; Performance = 8/10; Production = 7/10; CD length = 10/10.
Overall score weighted on my proprietary scale = 8.7 ("4 stars")
The Lalo piano concerto
Neil Ford | Sydney, Australia | 01/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I ordered this CD set based on the samples, and expected to most enjoy the Pierne concerto. However, I found the Pierne, and most of the material here, fairly uninspired. The real highlight turned out to be the piano concerto by Edouard Lalo.
Lalo is best known for his Symphonie Espagnole violin concerto. I have subsequently also heard his cello concerto, his symphony, and miscellaneous orchestral pieces. They all struck me as competent but ultimately unmemorable. Not, however, this piano concerto. I sometimes think of it as an "old man's concerto" - there is a sense of experience and perspective, even nostalgia, while the structure and melody are individual without apology, and without self-consciousness. It is cyclical in form, i.e. there is a central theme that recurs in all movements, and the influence of Saint-Saen's concertos predominates, particularly in lightness of orchestration, but also in elegance of melody and feeling. Perhaps inspiration is a little diffuse in the final movement. Nonetheless, this concerto rightly belongs in the repertoire, and I hope that some musician of capability will decide to champion it in the concert hall and on record.
There is only one other recording of this concerto available (David Gross with the Staatsorchester Frankfurt (Oder), and Nikos Athinaos conducting, on Signum). It is quite good, and has the advantage of better sound than these old Vox recordings, but I find the soloist overly mannered and too delicate. Marylene Dosse here plays with sensitivity and skill, but also with strength and vigour, matched by the Stuttgart orchestra under Kuntzsch, and the performance sounds convincingly grand. You can alleviate the poor sound somewhat by tweaking the EQ (in particular, turn down the treble). Until more alternatives are available, this is the recording to own, and if you love piano concertos then own it you should!"
Shameful sound quality
Matthew | New York | 09/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's a real shame the sound quality isn't better on some of the recordings. The Pierne concerto, for example, is performed wonderfully by Marylene Dosse, but the sound quality is horrendous. It sounds like it's being performed inside of a pillowcase. For the sake of anyone else purchasing this CD, let's hope mine it just defective. I can always get another one for free from my teacher (Marylene Dosse)."