Various Artists

Best Baroque 50

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EMI's Best Baroque 50 is a triple-disc compilation of recordings, organized according to three European regions closely identified with different styles and practices in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first disc concentrates on music by composers who lived and worked in England, including George Frederick Handel, Henry Purcell, and Jeremiah Clarke, but a few Renaissance figures are also listed, such as Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, and John Dowland, perhaps because there were so few British composers of note in the Baroque period. The second CD focuses on music from Mediterranean countries, so Italy is represented by Antonio Vivaldi, Luigi Boccherini, and Domenico Scarlatti, along with a handful of lesser lights, while Renaissance genius Tomás Luis de Victoria and Classical composer Antonio Soler are the most significant names to appear on behalf of Spain. To close out the set, the third disc concentrates on music from German composers, most notably the master, J.S. Bach, but also Georg Phillipp Telemann, Dietrich Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel, and Georg Matthias Monn. EMI has selected from its extensive backlist 50 recordings, which date from 1968 to 2003, so there is a mix of ADD and DDD masterings, as well as a range of different performance practices, so the listener is essentially exposed to the various ways Baroque music has been interpreted in the modern age. This package is perhaps most useful to beginners who can use it as a broad introduction to this seminal period of western music, but most others will use it less often as a reference.

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