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Yuri Rasovsky
AudioFile, July 2009

For some of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries and most of the nineteenth, “romantic” music dominated the concert halls of Europe and America. Ever expanding the scope of musical grammar, it sought to express deeply felt emotional states, tell rousing stories, and evoke beautiful pictures. The works of its composers remain among the most universally enjoyed in the classical repertoire. While Naxos’s critical history of the era is cursory, on the plus side, the recording contains spirited musical illustrations. Critical analyses of individual compositions are clearly stated and illuminating. Narrator Jeremy Siepmann has a pleasant, mature British sound. He employs it in a documentary style that is placid but never dull.

Frank Behrens
Brattleboro Reformer, May 2009

Music of the Romantic Era—There have been many biographies of great composers on Naxos CDs, every one of which I have reviewed over the past several years. “Discover the Music of the Romantic Era” is a different approach to classical music. I should say, “Romantic music,” which was a reaction to the clean “Classical” lines of composers such as Haydn and the younger Mozart.

As the text by David McCleery makes clear, the expression of grand emotions in musical terms was the essence of Romantic music. This four-CD set concentrates on the masters of the Romantic Movement—Beethoven, Berlioz, Liszt, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Glinka, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Dvorak, Faure, Grieg, Mahler, Rachmaninov and Elgar.

Some of those composers are more “classical romantics” than pure ones; but the reasons for their inclusion are pointed out in the excellent narration by Jeremy Siepmann. There are about two dozen extended musical examples to illustrate the contribution of each composer, along with brief biographies of their lives and a commentary on their idiosyncrasies, some of which border on the psychotic.

Those who already own the complete Naxos audio-biographies of some of these composers will welcome a fresh synopsis of their lives and a slightly different approach. Those who know little about them will welcome this excellent introduction to the subject. I hope to see more entries in what might be a “Discover” series.

[See related titles:

UNGER-HAMILTON Discover Music of the Baroque Era NA495912
Discover Early Music 8.558170–71
Discover Music of the Baroque Era 8.558160–61
Discover Music of the Classical Era 8.558180–81
Discover Music of the Romantic Era 8.558155–56
Discover Music of the Twentieth Century 8.558168–69

Discover Chamber Music 8.558206–07
Discover Choral Music 8.558198–99
Discover Film Music 8.558210–11
Discover Opera 8.558196–97]

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