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The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2010: The Key Classical Recordings on CD, DVD and SACD Paperback – November 24, 2009

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About the Author

Ivan March is a well-known lecturer, journalist, and writer in the world of recorded music.

Edward Greenfield was on the staff of the Guardian for forty years and is a regular BBC broadcaster.

Robert Layton is a journalist and broadcaster.


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music
  • Paperback: 1602 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141041625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141041629
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,204,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on February 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's hard to argue a product with 200 fewer pages than its last edition is improved but I am setting out to show why the Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2010 is better than its last full edition in 2008 and why it should be your preferred book to have among the two available that pretend to give you an annual survey of what's good to buy in recorded classical music.

For anyone new to this publication, The Penguin Guide owes its roots to a 1960 publication called the Stereo Record Guide. From there, the three principal authors, Robert Layton, Ivan March and Edward Greenfield, began publishing the Penguin Guide in 1975 with 1,114 pages of reviews. The three continued this process every few years until the past decade or so, when they began to update the book annually. The odd-numbered year books were called yearbooks and they frankly weren't of much use to anyone. Every even-numbered year -- and again in 2010 -- the whole thing is published anew.

Why do I think the book is better in 2010? Even though it cut its pages by more than 200 -- from almost 1,400 to just over 1,100 -- it also cut out the portions of the book that added little value. This includes long discussions on the why, where, how and wherefore of the book, its discussion of its author change (there is now a fourth author, Paul Czajkowski), a lengthy chat on downloading, and the entire section on collections. Instead, the book has only about one-half inch of pages (they don't number them) that precede the review section.
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113 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Roochak on November 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
10. What about those comprehensive, money-saving "portrait" collection box sets (primarily from DG and EMI)? Well, they're not in this book because they take up too much space to list and review. The editors promise to cover them "much more comprehensively in our 2011 edition."

9. "We feel it is useful to draw readers' attention to some [recordings] that hold their places firmly in the pantheon of recorded performances," the editors state, which is apparently why younger performers such as Hilary Hahn and Isabelle Faust (whatever you or I may think of their merits) are largely ignored while the same small list of tried and true names are mentioned over and over again: Heifetz, Menuhin, Grumiaux, Klemperer, Barbirolli, Solomon...Was the last word on Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Mahler committed to disc forty or fifty years ago?

8. Vocal recitals with music by more than a single composer are ignored (I get the impression that the editors find them just too much trouble to list and review), so goodbye to most opera aria and a great many lieder collections.

7. Why is it that performances on British labels (Hyperion, Chandos) tend to receive higher recommendations than CDs on labels from the rest of Europe, let alone Canada and the U.S.?

6. Why is it that Barenboim, Perlman, Ashkenazy, Karajan, and even Bernstein can do no wrong in these pages?

5. Sometimes the entries read as if they're not even really trying. The glowing "review" of the Zimerman/Rattle Brahms D minor concerto on DG seems to've been based on a blurb from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about a live concert given shortly before the recording date.

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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By musique non-stop on December 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was able to have a look at it recently and found, as others here have, little new, despite the claim of its being 'completely revised', which wasn't explained or evidenced anywhere that I could find. Accordingly, I am posting here largely unchanged my review of last year's edition, which some found helpful:

First, I should mention that my area of interest is almost exclusively post-19th century music -- but my criticisms are general ones which apply to the entire book.

Above all we have the the oft-noted and indisputable British bias, which the authors should prominently and frankly acknowledge. Now I'm not an Anglophobe -- there are many fine British performers and performances, but it is also true that British performances (like those other cultural regions) tend to have a certain personality, which does not always best serve the music. At their worst, you get stodgy, genteel performances lacking necessary fire, drive, and rhythmic bite. Of course not all music requires the types of expression they tend to be less successful with (a lot of British music doesn't, not coincidentally), and it is also a matter of emphasis, of which musical elements are considered most important by the performer and the listener. But whether the bias here is a nationalistic or purely aesthetic one, it is important to recognize that this guide reflects a rather narrow viewpoint (written as it is by three British men of advanced age, who admit in the introduction that they rarely have substantial disagreements in their reviewing), which is not universal or 'authoritative'.

My concern is that someone would buy the most highly recommended performances in this guide and think that's the end of the story for those works.
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