Virgin: The Classics

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Virgin: The Classics

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EMI also continues to put out excellently presented reissues from the early days of Virgin Classics, which saw some inspired matching of artists and repertoire.

Charles Mackerras conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a fresh, lively account of MENDELSSOHN’s Italian Symphony and the Midsummer Night’s Dream orchestral music (VM 5 61975 2).

In BRITTEN’s Les illuminations, Serenade and Nocturne, the fresh-voiced Martyn Hill, with the City of London Sinfonia and Richard Hickox, offers a highly recommendable modern alternative to the classic Pears/Britten recordings (VM 5 61978 2).

The CLS and Hickox provide equally responsive support in three keyboard concertos by POULENC, with Maggie Cole’s period-style harpsichord sounding too light for the Concert champêtre, but the Royal Festival Hall organ proving just right for the Organ Concerto under the hands (and feet) of Gillian Weir (VM 5 61979 2).

Libor Pesek conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in a generous selection from PROKOFIEV’s Romeo and Juliet ballet score, played with dramatic flair and great tenderness (VM 5 61977 2).

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Pesek, with the Philharmonia, also partners Mikhail Pletnev in outstanding accounts of RACHMANINOFF’s First Piano Concerto and the Paganini Rhapsody (VM 5 61976 2).