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The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs 2005/06 Edition: The Key Classical Recordings on CD, DVD and SACD, 30th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music) Paperback – January 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"More valuable than ever to any serious collector of classical music."

About the Author

Ivan March is a well-known lecturer, journalist and writer in the world of recorded music. He lives in London, SW6. Edward Greenfield was on the staff of the Guardian for forty years and is a regular BBC broadcaster. He lives in London, E1. Robert Layton is a journalist and broadcaster. He lives in London, NW6.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music
  • Paperback: 1616 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141022620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141022628
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 2.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,175,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

It also happens to be one of the best things Maazel has ever done.
William J. Coburn
The brute fact is that the Penguin guide is, compared to the Gramophone guide, much, much larger.
Robert Moore
I can recommend this book without reservation to any lover of classical music.
F. Mount

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on May 3, 2006
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Is the Penguin Guide becoming an anachronism that relies too heavily on its timeworn recommendations and lets them get in the way of better new recordings? This is the first question I asked when I purchased the newest guide (apparently written in 2005 and dated 2005-06) and couldn't find any of the newer CDs I had purchased that surely deserve some commendation herein (the new Shostakovich symphony set led by Kitaenko on the Capriccio label being the most obvious.)

I was also taken back when I reviewed the Bach cantata pages and see the current issue continues to list all the complete sets made by groups in the Bach year of 2000. That was six years ago. Doesn't that make these somewhat dated and less deserving of a place in this compendium, given that every single CD of the sets recorded by Rilling, Gardiner and others continues to be included? Even the entire set recorded on the super discount Brilliant label is included!

These were my first impressions. When I looked deeper, I found the Penguin Guide in 2005 still performs the same role it did when it first arrived 30 years eariler: it recommends classic recordings, the best new recordings since its past issue, the best recordings of English music (the authors are British), and probably the best recordings of just about any classical music in which you have interest. Even though they don't list every favorite recording of mine, I found the authors' taste and comments were just as judicious today as ever.

Here's an example: Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2, or "Romantic" symphony, was first recorded by the composer in the 1950s on Mercury Living Presence. It has since been recorded a bunch of times, with the consensus critical best probably being the performance by the St. Louis Symphony on EMI.
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98 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Jeff V. on January 31, 2006
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This is certainly not a comprehensive or complete guide to classical CDs. While I've been using this guide for a number of years, I'm not finding it to be as useful or as helpful as it once was. In fact there was a time when I relied on this source exclusively, but I've found over the years that I missed out on several great recordings (not to mention composers) that were either overlooked in the book or were give less than 3 stars for whatever reason.

What the editors of the Penguin Guide are attempting to do is to make primary recording recommendations for purchase within the classical repertoire. This is no small feat due to the long history of classical recordings resulting in the shear number of available recordings (even in this time of contraction and deletions by the major labels). However, keep in mind only 3 editors are making these recommendations, and as with any review source, the opinions are highly subjective and biases tend to creep in. The editors are British, and as such, there is a definite bias towards British labels, performers and conductors (Simon Rattle, Vernon Handley and John Eliot Gardner can do no wrong). Anyone using this book as a primary source should be aware of it. I've learned to work around this by weighing the editor's opinions according. Also, I use several other sources for reviews. There are many good sources available in print and online.

Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, there are many, many great recordings overlooked by this guide. Yes, many of these are by American orchestras and labels (believe it or not, American orchestras are capable of performing British music), but there are also several independent labels and releases that get overlooked. Don't let this be your only source when looking for recordings.
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137 of 157 people found the following review helpful By LP on February 25, 2006
I had not really looked at the Penguin Guide since the mid-1990s. My recollection was that its recommendations were rarely trustworthy, and often downright ridiculous, so I thought I just wouldn't bother. Nevertheless, I decided to give this '30th anniversary edition' a try, thinking they might have put in an extra effort for the occasion, and that the book might have improved over the years anyway. I was wrong on both counts.

The book is often poorly written, and there are editing mistakes of a kind I don't recall from the edition I had in the mid-1990s. The new edition seems the outcome of a process of hasty cutting and pasting. The result is that some entries cross-reference others that are no longer there, and (more worryingly) that recommendations are inconsistent. An example of the latter: on page 982, one reads that Pogorelich's performance of Prokofiev's 6th piano sonata is `by far the best version of it ever put on record'. Before rushing over to the record store, however, one should make sure to read another, separate review where one learns that Lugansky's new recording of the same work `is the most exciting and authoritative now before the public and superseded the likes of Pogorelich and Kissin in musical insight and virtuosity.' Such editorial mistakes are surprisingly frequent.

I also found that the reviews of recent recordings were often too short to be of any use. Thus Ilya Gringolts's recent recording of Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto is simply described as `one of the best accounts of the D major Concerto to have appeared in recent years,' while `DG present a perfect balance between soloist and orchestra and a wonderfully transparent orchestral texture'.
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