Various Artists

The Classic 100 Concerto

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Lest anyone think this eight-disc set from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation contains 100 complete concertos, it must be stated up front that it is merely a collection of extracted movements and snippets from the most popular concertos, and far from a satisfying listening experience. The program was chosen from the results of a classical radio poll, and themes from the most famous concertos for piano, violin, clarinet, cello, and other instruments were ranked according to the vote. Anyone who wants to play "Name That Tune" will think this set has terrific practical value, and newcomers trying to attach titles to infectious classical melodies will surely get something out of it. But people who wish to derive some deeper pleasure from prolonged sittings will find the selections are generally too short to be fully satisfying, and that in many cases the tracks are taken from historical recordings with faulty sound. It's possible that with a little digging, some fans of old recordings will find some true gems here, and the inclusion of interesting performances by George Gershwin, Jascha Heifetz, Joseph Szigeti, Wilhelm Kempff, Yehudi Menuhin, and Mieczyslaw Horszowski, to name just a few twentieth century greats, will certainly attract specialists. But the casual listener may find that the mix of old, modern, and contemporary recordings makes the volume levels a bit uneven, and that the arrangement of the program invites skipping around instead of encouraging relaxed listening.

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