EMI: Classics for Pleasure

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: EMI

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The original Classics for Pleasure LPs were pioneering in their mix of established names and relative newcomers in standard repertoire, but with all the majors now offering bargain lines, each brand has to offer something special.

The first issues from CFP relaunch are a mixed bag: the classic version of MAHLER’s Fourth Symphony with the LPO under Jascha Horenstein (5 74882 2) makes a long overdue return at budget price, though the other Price involved – Margaret – seems too womanly for Mahler’s child’s view of Heaven.

John Pritchard and the LPO give genial performances of SCHUBERT’s Unfinished and Great C major Symphonies (5 74885 2), but they don’t catch fire, and the C major needs more impetus if it isn’t going to drag.

There’s more oomph from the Gabrieli Quartet in Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet (5 74886 2), and the Trout Quintet, with Moura Lympany joined by LSO front-desk players in happy music-making among friends.

A similar feeling informs a MOZART disc (5 74883 2) with the Chilingirian Quartet partnering Gordon Hunt in the Oboe Quartet, and Andrew Marriner in the Clarinet Quintet, though the Clarinet Concerto suffers from sluggish tempi.

A youthful reading of ELGAR’s Cello Concerto from Robert Cohen (5 74879 2) is paired with the DVORÁK, which has a real bonus in sensitive orchestral playing from the LPO under Zdenek Macal.

Authenticity is at a premium with Monica Huggett in the BEETHOVEN and MENDELSSOHN violin concertos, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Charles Mackerras (5 74878 2), though I miss the personality of a big soloist – but that probably isn’t the point.

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On the other hand, if you prefer Baroque music on modern instruments, Arthur Davison and the Virtuosi of England offer VIVALDI’s Four Seasons (5 74887 2) and HANDEL’s Water and Fireworks Music (5 74881 2) in surprisingly stylish versions.