Various Artists

Classical Lounge [Denon]

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The subtitle of Denon's Classical Lounge is a bit misleading: the album is not really a collection of "Ambient classics seamlessly mixed for your pleasure," because ambient has come to mean something different than just aural wallpaper. (There are no synthesized soundscapes here, no studies of reverberant sound, no pattern pieces, or anything else that might be understood in the contemporary usage of the term). What has been done here is nothing fancier than making Baroque, Classical, and Romantic pieces flow into each other without pauses, to create continuous background music that is mellow, unobtrusive, and easy to listen to while reading, exercising, or having dinner. Aside from the novelty of having an album without breaks between tracks (which feels quite disconcerting for the first few minutes), this is just a compilation of pieces drawn from Denon's catalog, providing more than two hours of music programmed to suit a quiet mood. Of course, most fans of classical music like a little variety in their selections, whether between fast and slow pieces or between loud and soft, and there are sufficient contrasts of tempos and dynamics in this collection to make it tolerable, yet with nothing to disrupt its gentle character. Furthermore, the selections are not uniformly famous, but several deserving works by less familiar composers are included, which makes the album a bit more interesting and refreshing than the usual "name that tune" compilation. Casual listeners will enjoy this double-disc a lot, and even some classical aficionados will find it agreeable in small doses. Denon's sound is exceptional on every track and evenly balanced to make everything audible at a comfortable volume.

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