Various Artists

Basics Highlights: Essential Classics

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Berlin Classics' Basics series is a surprisingly comprehensive budget line that covers the core masterworks of the classical repertoire with many fine recordings by important German conductors and orchestras drawn from the Edel Classics catalog. The booklet that accompanies Basics Highlights: Die Ganze Welt der Klassik shows 129 cover photos, which should give some idea how broad the line is. Yet the disc itself is sadly narrow in its selections, with no fewer than three famous Mozart tracks, and the rest of the selections by Bach, Bizet, Dvorák, Grieg, Handel, Liszt, Massenet, Mendelssohn, Rossini, Schubert, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Verdi are easily identifiable by even the most casual classical listener. To the extent that cost-conscious consumers might prefer to spend their money on complete performances, especially of off the beaten path pieces, collecting the series as individual discs without including either this sampler or the comparable Best of Basics survey is advisable. Since the value of these compilations is limited to the chance discovery that they might draw attention to Berlin Classics, they are perhaps only of further use as an introduction for children. Yet for that purpose, there are many collections that are superior to this one in performance levels and sound quality.

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