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Classical Music


The #1 Opera Album

The #1 Opera Album Lowest new price: $7.88
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The labels that are now gathered under the Universal Classics umbrella have a pretty impressive scorecard in the area of classical compilations. We've seen The Greatest Opera Show on Earth, The Yellow Guide: Classical Music, Best of the Millennium, and now there's The No. 1 Opera Album. But that's no surprise, since Universal has some of the finest interpreters in its catalogue to draw from. This two-CD set (at the price of one), for example, brings together the likes of Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming, Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, and many more. Yet the other key to a successful compilation is canny anthologizing, and here again, you have a nice selection to give you a smattering of opera's heavyweights from the Italian, German, and French repertory (there's even a step outside the standard framework with an aria from Dvorák's lovely Rusalka). Ranging from 1959 to 1997, the choices from back catalogue will doubtless be the entry ticket for many into this grandest of the arts. --Sarah Chin

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40 Most Beautiful Arias

40 Most Beautiful Arias Lowest new price: $3.55
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Two CD collection featuring the finest voices in Opera performing the most beautiful arias by the classic composers. An aria is a self-contained piece for vocals with orchestral accompaniment and this collection gathers together arias that will touch your heart and relax your soul as you are lifted by their beautiful melodies. 40 tracks including solos from Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Jennifer Lamore, William Christie, Marcello Viotti and many others. WEA. 2008.



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Pavarotti's Greatest Hits

Pavarotti's Greatest Hits Lowest new price: $11.28
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Back by popular demand Pavarotti's Greatest Hits. First released as an LP in 1980 and then again in 1985, this is one of Pavarotti's best-selling albums. Instantly recognizable cover features classic photo of Luciano Pavarotti dressed as Pagliaccio from I pagliacci. Chock-full of his all-time greatest hits including Nessun dorma, La donna Š mobile, Vesti la giubba, Funiculi Funicul… and more! Reissued in a slim-line jewel box for the first time and at a special 2 for 1price point. Celebrate the life and career of Luciano Pavarotti the world's most famous tenor and King of the High C's!

Here's a feast of great tenor singing. It's also a feast of thrills--one selection after another offers Pavarotti's remarkable, full-throated excitement in the music, whether the infectious spirit of his renditions of Neapolitan songs or the trumpet-like High C's he effortlessly tears off in the extended scene from Donizetti's La fille du regiment. Apparent throughout is Pavarotti's big-hearted emotional generosity that infuses this superb collection with an immediacy and communicative power that's impossible to resist. Of course, "Nessun dorma!" is here to lead off the set with the tenor's biggest hit, but his other Puccini arias are, if anything, even more compelling. Verdi is represented by such well-loved Pavarotti favorites as "La donna è mobile" and "Questa o quella" from Rigoletto. He's as compelling in the "Ingemisco" from Verdi's Requiem, the voice blooming in the "Inter oves" section and then fined down to a gorgeous pianissimo. But there's not a single weak track on these discs, whose attractions are enhanced by full texts and translations. --Dan Davis

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The 25 Thunderous Classics

The 25 Thunderous Classics Lowest new price: $1.53
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A to Z of Classical Music (3rd Extended Edition)

A to Z of Classical Music (3rd Extended Edition) Lowest new price: $8.97
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A-Z of Classical Music is a remarkable 932-page, illustrated book, detailing the lives of all the great composers as well as many less known, but equally fascinating, musical masters. Like the Naxos range of recordings itself, A-Z of Classical Music is a rich source of inspiration for anyone either just embarking on a lifetime of musical enjoyment or for whom classical music has long been a way of life. Included within is an extensive glossary of musical terms plus a unique guide to classical music used in acclaimed films. Two-and-a-half hours of the finest music from across the centuries are contained on the accompanying CDs.

Is it a two-CD set with a particularly thick booklet, or a 562-page book with a compilation album attached? Either way, the unpretentious text by Keith Anderson offers an introduction to the lives and works of dozens of composers, together with recommended recordings from the Naxos and Marco Polo catalogs. Anderson includes a useful 59-page glossary of musical terms and an extensive listing of classical pieces used in films. The odd thing about the 36 extracts and complete pieces on the CDs is that they do not form an A-to-Z at all. Rather, they are arranged chronologically, from 1,000-year-old Gregorian chant to the opening movement of contemporary composer Philip Glass's Violin Concerto. Between these two points is the early music of Palestrina and Byrd; the Baroque glories of Vivaldi and Bach; the 19th-century Romantic masters, from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky; and such 20th-century greats as Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. Opera, song, and chamber music are barely represented, but only so much can fit into 151 minutes. Essentially a deluxe sampler of the vast Naxos catalogue, the discs offer a good introduction to some of the most famous and melodic music ever composed, while the book will be very useful to newcomers to the potentially confusing world of classical music. --Gary S. Dalkin


  • Record Label: Naxos
  • Catalog#: 8555319-20F
  • Year Of Release: 2001

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A - Z of Opera (includes 762 page booklet)

A - Z of Opera (includes 762 page booklet) Lowest new price: $6.63
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Much like its companion, A-Z of Classical Music , this item offers not only the 2-CD set, but an in-depth 700-page book on operas, their composers, terms and more!


  • Record Label: Naxos
  • Catalog#: 8555037-38
  • Year Of Release: 2000

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Andrea Bocelli: Sacred Arias

Andrea Bocelli: Sacred Arias Lowest new price: $2.99
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Tuscan tenor Andrea Bocelli was already an international superstar (for Romanza, Aria, and Sogno) when he made his first album of arias and sacred music. "I have known these pieces since childhood," he explains, and it's clear that he loves them all. Recorded in a Roman cathedral, Sacred Arias is deeply spiritual and tenderly sung in the world's most beautiful voice. A Billboard bestseller, certified platinum. (62 minutes)

When he was growing up, Andrea Bocelli recalls finding inspiration in a favorite recording of sacred music performed by tenor legend Franco Corelli. Bocelli--who in the meantime has come to inspire millions of fiercely loyal fans himself--returns to the genre as the guiding theme of Sacred Arias, the release of which coincides with the first English-language biography of the singer. These performances are filled with the singer's phenomenally well-known vocal signature: his flair for long, sweetly floating high notes and the gentle sense of cadence he brings to a melody. It's a mistake to compartmentalize Bocelli into a singer of "operatic" versus "popular" styles: in truth his approach is at heart the same. Lack of color and control in his phrasing remains a drawback, but the emotional empathy Bocelli evokes is never in doubt. The arias collected here sample some of the most famous devotional pieces: Schubert's "Ave Maria" and Mozart's transporting "Ave Verum," as well as an arrangement of "Silent Night" in which Bocelli tries out his English. There's also a decidedly odd choice of bedfellows for a program of "sacred" music, such as a song from Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder (whose "angel" is the object of an overpoweringly erotic attraction) and Handel's figurative ode to a tree, "Ombra mai fu." Still, Bocelli sings with an unfeigned directness that is sure to expand his already enormous following even further. --Thomas May



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Herbert von Karajan: The First Recordings

Herbert von Karajan: The First Recordings Lowest new price: $29.95
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The Polydor Recordings from 1938 to 1943: Karajan's Fascinating First Essays in the Classical Repertoire from Mozart (Symphony No. 40) to Richard Strauss (Don Juan), with Beethoven (Symphony No. 7) , Tchaikovsky (Pathétique Symphony), Dvorak (New World Symphony) and a Beautiful CD of Opera Préludes. These Recordings were Painstakingly Restored in the 1980s and Previously Released in the Dokumente Series in 1988. CD Booklet, with Great New Article by Karajan Biographer Richard Osborne, Includes the Full Series of Dynamic Early Karajan Photos by Siegfried Lauterwasser.

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Rossini: Complete Overtures

Rossini: Complete Overtures Lowest new price: $8.80
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  • Record Label: Philips
  • Catalog#: 00289 4739672
  • Country Of Release: NLD
  • Year Of Release: 1992
  • Notes: W/Asmif/Ambrosian Singers/Neville Marriner

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Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia Lowest new price: $11.96
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This is a nicely entertaining Barber, with just the right sense of fun running through it to avoid slapstick and still bring a sophisticated smile to one's lips. Teresa Berganza is so right, so unexaggerated, so pyrotechnically capable yet filled with good taste, that it's impossible to find fault with her Rosina. Luigi Alva's Count is classy and honey-toned up to the top of the staff, where the voice simply stops blooming; he's also not as good as one might wish with Rossini's difficult fast music. Hermann Prey's Figaro is similarly impaired--the coloratura is just not pristine--but his style, attitude, and intelligence are pure gold; he's vastly entertaining. The other low-voiced men are ideal Rossinians. Abbado holds the whole thing together--this is a very satisfying performance. Robert Levine

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