DG: Panorama

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: DG Panorama

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Since its launch in 1983, the CD has provided the most comprehensive re-homing facility the record industry has ever seen, yet the sheer scope and diversity of the reissue listings has often seemed bewildering.

Cash-conscious collectors profited whenever top-drawer performances reappeared at reduced cost, though what’s been largely absent from the release schedules until recently has been any tangible sense of structured, logical planning.

But with the big three (Philips, DG and Decca) coordinating their output more and more under Universal’s umbrella, things should change as two major reissue initiatives, Eloquence and Panorama, come on stream.

A no-frills marketing concept (without recording data or booklet notes) focusing on core repertoire, Eloquence might signal a threat to Naxos. At mid-price, Panorama mines the treasures of the three companies’ archives (though chiefly DG), but provides only entry-level annotations. Baroque music fares well among Universal’s reissues.

It’s good to see Ralph Kirkpatrick’s distinguished traversal of BACH’s Goldberg Variations available at budget price (469 673-2), and there’s been no more thrilling a survey of the Brandenburg Concertos than Reinhard Goebel’s 1987 cycle with Musica Antiqua Köln on Panorama (469 103-2): whirlwind performances at breakneck tempi, though unfailingly polished and stylish.

That Bach deal also features authoritative performances of the violin concertos from Simon Standage and the English Concert, but excludes the Double Concerto with Elizabeth Wilcock. And Trevor Pinnock’s grandiloquent Water and Fireworks Music has resurfaced (469 145-2), alongside several of HANDEL’s Op. 6 Concerti grossi – all are unmissable.

Panorama’s RICHARD STRAUSS package (469 208-2) includes Karajan’s definitive 1959 Heldenleben, with Michel Schwalbé’s peerless violin solos more lustrous than on earlier CD transfers. The 1974 Zarathustra is there, too, plus the Four Last Songs (with Janowitz), the Second Horn Concerto and Karl Böhm’s Don Juan and Till. Generous timings and great value.

A PROKOFIEV compilation (469 172-2) which excludes the show-stopper of the composer’s best-known ballet (Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet) shouldn’t expect serious attention, though I’d buy this one to have Shlomo Mintz in the First Violin Concerto, and Maazel’s Cleveland Fifth Symphony would definitely clinch it.

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Panorama’s RAVEL set (469 184-2) encompasses fine performances of his best-known works across the genre spectrum, though seasoned collectors might well be surprised to find the Beaux Arts Trio’s 1966 Philips recording of the Piano Trio here.