As compilations go this is up there with the best. 28 tracks of the Beach Boys at the top of their form (or close to the top, anyway). And at the price this is great value. It's easy to forget just how important the Beach Boys were to the progression of popular music in the 1960s. Brian Wilson used to watch what the Beatles were doing and try to match them on the artistic level. The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' was born of this rivalry and Paul McCartney regarded it as one of the greatest popular-music albums ever made. It spurred the Beatles to complete 'Revolver' and then make 'Sgt Pepper'. Brian Wilson was the Beach Boys' creative genius and when he broke down they lost their leadership position. However they left a huge repertoire of major hits, many of which are captured on this compilation. Some of the most finely crafted pop-music recordings ever made are here. Pete Doggett has written a paragraph in the accompanying booklet giving a little background to each of the tracks, which makes for interesting reading.
Recordings of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Op. 56, by a piano trio rather than by a group of virtuosi (a configuration that almost always misunderstands the work) are not abundant. Still rarer are those like the present release by the Storioni Trio, a Dutch group that takes its name from the maker of the 1790s instrument played by the violinist (and strung, like the viola, with gut strings). Pianist Bart van de Roer plays an 1815 Lagasse fortepiano. This recording is part of a series devoted to Beethoven's piano trios, but the Triple Concerto actually is more comfortable in those surroundings than when forced to keep company with the likes of the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61.
At the heart of Beethoven’s life’s statement as a composer lies the cycle of sixteen string quartets, which, to this day, has retained a special status and reverence. Since 2012, the Elias String Quartet has been immersed in its Beethoven Project, performing all Beethoven’s string quartets at venues throughout the UK. In this live recording, the ensemble captures both the intimacy and grandeur of the works. With an ever-expanding recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim, the quartet is delighted to release this disc, the first volume of its complete Beethoven cycle to be recorded live at Wigmore Hall over the coming Seasons.
This was to be the end of the line for Italian word-setting by Viennese composers: once the confident sentiments that belonged to the poet Metastasio's opera seria felt the chill and threatening wind of Enlightenment and Revolution, their time was up. Even we, for the most part, prefer to remember the German-speaking Beethoven, Schubert and Haydn. So it is good to be reminded of their responses to the Italian muse (usually as part of their craft-learning student work) in this particularly well-cast recital. Central Europe, in the person of Andras Schiff meets Italy, in Cecilia Bartoli, to delightful, often revelatory effect.