Various Artists

Natural Reflections

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One might imagine an album called Natural Reflections would feature pieces based on nature, so it comes as a bit of a disappointment that Berlin Classics didn't follow through with its main idea for this budget compilation. Some of the selections are suggestive of nighttime (Mendelssohn's Nocturne from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Andante from Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and Chopin's Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major), moonlight (the first movement from Beethoven's Sonata No. 14, "Moonlight," and Debussy's Clair de lune), and, very indirectly, weather (the Adagio from Beethoven's Sonata No. 17, "The Tempest"); but more striking examples of "nature music" could have been included since the classical repertoire is replete with compositions suggesting everything in the universe, from butterflies (Chopin's Étude No. 9, Op. 25) and birds (Saint-Saëns' The Swan) to the seasons (Vivaldi's Quattro Stagioni) and even the solar system (Holst's The Planets). Instead, the Andante from Brahms' Piano Sonata No. 1, the "Scène dansante" from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, the Larghetto from Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, "Classical," and the Adagio from Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, pleasant as they are, veer off from the CD's programmatic premise into absolute music, and the thematic basis of this collection is somewhat confused. Still, what music there is sounds peaceful and beautiful, and the performances drawn from Edel Classics' catalog are all adequate for relaxation or quiet pastimes. The mix of keyboard and orchestral music is well balanced and moderate in volume levels, so this collection is at least suitable for daydreaming, if not for depicting natural phenomena.

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