Customer Reviews: 99 Must-Have Chillout Classics
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VINE VOICEon June 2, 2011
I have been a big fan of the "99" series of the Stockholm-based X5 Music Group. They have been turning out quality sets of classical music for remarkable prices here on Amazon for some time. Especially their composer-themed sets featuring full-length works have been tremendous bargains, although other themes such as "Relaxing", "Allegros", "Darkest", etc have also been worthwhile.

That's why I was surprised to see that this new "99 Must-Have" set of classics for $1.99 on Amazon is released by the Los Angeles-based Cobra Entertainment. It looks like someone has decided to give X5 some competition using this tried and true model.

These are not performances by the best-known stars of classical music -- although there are some pretty good players such as Hungarian pianist Jeno Jando or the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer, who was until recently principal conductor for many years at the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. I think it's fair to say that a lot of these recordings are by respected Eastern European orchestras and performers -- a model that often works both economically and artistically.

The benefit for the consumer of having a new supplier in town is that these are generally a different universe of recordings than on the X5 sets, which as buyers of the series know can be repetitive. I haven't gone over every single track, but I looked at many and so far I'm not finding any tracks that feature the same music by the same performers as any of the X5 collections I have purchased.

This is clearly a "best of classical" type collection, so a lot of this is music you will have heard before, including on the X5 sets, but a lot of it is different and there is a good proportion of short but full-length works (important for me as I don't particularly care for excerpts). And while there are a lot of "greatest hits", there is also quite a bit of music that is off the beaten path. I can't say I was too familiar with Jean Baptiste Loeillet or Zdenek Fibich, or had much Henri Wieniawski in my collection.

I must say Cobra has done a better job of staying "on topic" than X5 has sometimes. You can't always depend on all the tracks of a "99 Most Relaxing" set to really be relaxing, for example, and there are plenty of tracks on the "99 Most Romantic" collection that would surely kill any hopes for an amorous trist. But this one really does all seem to contain 100% chill out music. Very soothing. I'm thinking of it for my new baby's nursery at bedtime. Or maybe even for myself at bedtime.

My biggest criticism is a lack of attention to detail on things like opus or catalog numbers so the listener can tell what is really playing. One example -- there is a pretty nice string orchestra reworking of a Chopin Nocturne, identified only as "Nocturne in E flat major" (track 35). Some digging reveals that it's Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 9. But it would have been nice not to have to dig. A glance at the track listing shows this kind of labeling is the rule rather than the exception.

But this is a good deal with good music. Yes, a lot of it is sliced and diced and pre-processed, but it's good and lives up to the promise of the title.

The track listing, as always on Amazon, doesn't show you the composers. Here they are by track number:
1. Bach - Air (from Orchestral Suite No.3)
2. Beethoven - Piano Sonata No.14 "Moonlight Sonata": I. Adagio sostenuto
3. Boccherini - Menuet
4. Bizet - Intermezzo (from "Carmen")
5. Mendelssohn - Spring Song, Op.62 No.6
6. Haydn - Serenade op.15 No.7
7. Mozart - Piano Concerto No.21 in C major K. 467: II. Andante
8. Berlioz - Dance of the Sylphides
9. Beethoven - Für Elise
10. Schubert - Ave Maria
11. Grieg - Peer Gynt: Morning
12. Mendelssohn - Duetto in F major, op.38 Nr.6
13. Tchaikovsky - Chanson triste op.40 No.2
14. Offenbach - Barcarole (from "The Tales of Hoffmann")
15. Brahms - Romance in F major Op.118 No.5
16. Zdenek Fibich - Poème op.41 No.6
17. Mendelssohn - A Midsummernight's Dream: Notturno
18. Mozart - Clarinet Concerto in A major K.622: II. Adagio
19. Brahms - Waltz in A major, Op.39 No.15
20. Dvorak - Symphony No.9 in E minor "From The New World": II. Largo (Excerpt)
21. Schubert - Rosamunde: Intermezzo in B flat
22. Francisco Tarrega - Lagrima
23. Grieg - Notturno Op.54 No.4
24. Tchaikovsky - Elegie (from "Serenade for Strings")
25. Puccini - Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo
26. Chopin - Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor op.21: II. Larghetto
27. Dvorak - Melody (Songs My Mother Taught Me)
28. Mussorgsky - The Old Castle (from "Pictures Of An Exhibition")
29. Tchaikovsky - Dance of the Toy Flutes (from "Nutcracker")
30. Grieg - Peer Gynt: Ases Death
31. Dvorak - Humoresque in G flat major, Op. 101
32. Rubinstein - Romance in E flat major op.44
33. Schubert - Symphony No.3 in D major: II. Allegretto
34. Schumann 0- Abschied (from "Waldszenen")
35. Chopin - Nocturne in E flat major
36. Albeniz - Suite Espagnole No.1 op.47: I. Granada (Serenata)
37. Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor op.16: II. Adagio
38. Puccini - Menuet I
39. Mendelssohn - Song without words in E major op.19,1
40. Handel - Largo (from "Xerxes")
41. Vivaldi - Mandolin Concerto in C major: II. Largo
42. Bach - Jesu, joy of man's desiring
43. Gluck - Dance Of The Blessed Spirits
44. Vivaldi - The Four Seasons: Concerto No.4 "Winter" (II. Largo)
45. Bach - Piano Concerto No.5 in F minor BWV 1056: II. Largo
46. Jean Baptiste Loeillet - Trumpet Sonata in G Major: Lento Dolce
47. Handel - Water Music: Suite No.1 (VI. Air)
48. Vivaldi - The Four Seasons: Concerto No.1 "Spring" (II. Largo e pianissimo sempre)
49. Mozart - Piano Concerto No.23 in A major: II. Adagio
50. Beethoven - Menuett (Minuet)
51. Schubert - Rosamunde: Ballet in G major
52. Beethoven - Violin Romance No.2 in F major, Op.50
53. Mozart - Laudate Dominum K 339
54. Schubert - An die Musik
55. Brahms - Cradle Song
56. Beethoven - Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor "Pathétique": II. Adagio cantabile
57. Grieg - Peer Gynt: Anitra's Dance
58. Dvorak - Serenade for Strings: I. Moderato
59. Liszt - Romance in E minor
60. Puccini - Crisantemi
61. Donizetti - Andante
62. Bruch - Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor: II. Adagio
63. Grieg - Arietta, op.12 No.1
64. Bizet - Nocturne (from "Carmen")
65. Henri Wieniawski - Romance (from Violin Concerto No.2)
66. Mendelssohn - The Venetian Gondola
67. Dvorak - Waltz op.54 No.1
68. Tchaikovsky - Barcarole (from "The Seasons")
69. Verdi - La Traviata: Prélude Act 1
70. Schubert - Ständchen
71. Schumann - Träumerei
72. Dvorak - Romance in F minor for violin and orchestra Op.11
73. Liszt - Love Dream
74. Grieg - Peer Gynt: Solveig's Song
75. Schubert - Moment musical D 780 No.3
76. Rubinstein - Melody in F Op.3 No.1
77. Puccini - La Boheme: Rodolfos Aria (Instrumental)
78. Johann Svendsen - Romance in G major Op.26
79. Schumann - Des Abends
80. Grieg - I love you, Op.5 No.3
81. Puccini - Tosca: Vissi d'arte (Instrumental)
82. Schumann - Romance in F sharp major Op.28 No.2
83. Dvorak - Waltz in D minor op.54 Nr.7
84. Verdi - Nabucco: Choir of the Hebrew Slaves (Instrumental Version)
85. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio Espagnol Op.34: Variations
86. Schumann - Einsame Blumen
87. Tomaso Giordani - Caro mio ben
88. Puccini - O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)
89. Grieg - To Spring Op.43 No.6
90. Tchaikovsky - Romance, Op.5
91. Saint-Saëns - Le cygne (The Swan) (from ""Le carnaval des animaux")
92. Henri Wieniawski - Légende in G minor, op.17
93. Schubert - Symphony No.8 in B minor "Unfinished": II. Andante con moto
94. Scriabin - Nocturne For The Left Hand, Op.9
95. Mahler - Adagietto (from "Symphony No.5")
96. Saint-Saëns - Aquarium (from ""Le carnaval des animaux")
97. Sibelius - The Swan of Tuonela op.22
98. Tchaikovsky - Chant sans paroles (Souvenir de Hapsal) Op.2 No.3
99. Samuel Barber - Adagio
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on June 11, 2011
BUY IT!!! You won't be sorry. I picked it up this morning as a quick impulse buy...I've listened to about half of it today, and I still haven't heard a single piece I'm unfamiliar with. Lots of classical favorites. It's been the perfect music for homework. I'm relaxed but not falling asleep over my books.
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on June 19, 2011
For however long Amazon offers this incredible deal, don't miss out. Just make sure you allow about fifteen minutes for all the songs to download onto your PC. Good grief what a wonderful find. Each of these songs aren't studio artist seconds, this is the real thing, with famous performers putting their heart and soul into the best version possible. Mellow classical music for anybody wanting to chill out with easy listening classics. If you occasionally, often, or all the time enjoy classical music -- GET THIS. Best deal I've found in 56 years. Wow.
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on June 24, 2011
First, a note...mysteriously the price of this set increased from $1.99 to $4.99. I purchased it for $1.99 and, even at that, apparently it was originally released for 99 cents. That issue out of the way, even if the price were to increase ten-fold (from its current price), it would still be a bargain, particularly considering the typical cost of downloading a single song.

The music on here is beautiful. I am not a fan of the cover which, for some reason, equates relaxation (and/or "chillout") with the consumption of scotch/whisky/etc. Furthermore, if one is going to indulge in two, maybe three, fingers of scotch/whisky/etc, it should be consumed neat, not on the rocks. Kidding aside, and cover aside, the music itself is gorgeous. And, as T. Fisher has already touched on, Cobra has succeeded in keeping the theme constant with these recordings. Sometimes, even with so-called "relaxing" compilations, one finds that one selection is relaxing, with the next a little less so, with the next not relaxing in the least, then back to a truly relaxing piece. Not so here; uniformity and consistency have been achieved, with a stunning result.

Definitely a great compilation and well worth even its current price.

Highly recommended.
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on July 6, 2012
This album gets 5 stars for value, but 3 stars for sound quality.

Great song selections and the players all did a great job.

My only qualm is that it some songs are badly recorded. You would probably not notice on a basic stereo, but if you are listening on a nice set of headphones it is definitely noticeable. You can hear the hum of the recording device and some bass sections are just not recorded well.

It wasn't just my headphones. I tried two different sets with the same results.

All in all though, if you are not an audiophile, and are just listening in the car or over a basic stereo system it will probably not even be noticeable.
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on June 15, 2012
I've downloaded about six of these amazon classical collections, and often have to stop and skip though the many selections of over used classical music. This mix is refreshingly diverse, and only uses a few of those overplayed standbys. The mix itself is wonderfully ordered, it lulls and speeds up smoothly without jarring you from one song to the next. As of right now, parts of the mix stand-out (songs 57-70) but I also love that the mix ends with that Adagio.

I've been listening to it nonstop! I would find out who mixed this, and listen to some of their other compendiums.
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on April 13, 2012
I've purchased dozens of these big classical music sets, and this is by far and away the one I listen to the most. It makes for great sleeping, background sound, and relaxation. Compared with X5's 99 Most Relaxing collection, they are both really good, but this one is more uniformly relaxing. Such a great buy.
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on April 3, 2016
Who performed these songs? I really should have reviewed the list of songs prior to my purchase. As I installed this album into iTunes I was appalled that many (at least half or more) are not credited and are titled "various artists". I already know that this album is comprised of various artists, I'd like to know who made each individual song I just purchased. I'm guessing this is the only contemplation album in the world that doesn't credit the artists songs. It makes me wonder how these songs where obtained.
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on July 1, 2011
I am by no means a connoisseur of classical music. But I do recognize many of these pieces, and I enjoyed listening to this collection. I will continue to listen. You get a lot of music for your money. Highly recommended if you want to relax, or if you simply want some beautiful sounds in the background while you're working.
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on March 1, 2013
I purchased this a month ago and oh my gosh don't I love it!! I find what works and sticks to it and Lo and behold this does it for me...I work, sleep, relax and eat to it!!! For .99 cents what is not to love about it!! Did I mention it has me playing Fur Elise' on the piano now!!! Yup I am now teaching myself how to work the Piano once again, not been playing on it for a while, so this was much needed!!!
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