Various Artists

Music to Relax

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This set includes two previously released two-CD collections, Graceful Ballet and Calming Classics, and consists of orchestral and piano music from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and very early Modern periods. The album title, Music to Relax, is something of a misnomer; anyone who has kicked back for a mellow listening experience is going to be rudely shocked by the first track, the thunderously pounding Sabre Dance by Khachaturian. The pieces here would more accurately be characterized as light classics. Although many of the selections are subdued, quiet, and slow, the collection reflects a variety of moods. Some pieces strongly disrupt the mood of relaxation; the mercurial first movement of Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony, although taken here at a remarkably slow tempo, is too full of Romantic angst to be relaxing, and Rimsky-Korsakov's tempestuous Scheherazade is full of drama and excitement. No performers are credited, but the performances (except for the aforementioned sagging Schubert) are for the most part fine. The information on the track listings is sometimes sloppily imprecise or inaccurate. This set would be of interest to anyone looking for a broad selection of attractive and largely familiar light classical music, but is not for someone looking for a consistently mellow and relaxing listening experience.

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