This set of 20 CDs presents virtually everything that was recorded by Steinberg during the seven years that he recorded for Capitol: from the Schubert Second Symphony, recorded on 9 February 1952, to the Italian Serenade by Wolf, from 16 April 1959. There are some exceedingly good performances in this set and the recordings show that Capitol Records were at the technical forefront when it came to sound quality and production values.
Malcolm Sargent's reputation as one of the great popularizers of classical music in Britain arose not only through his long association with the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts (1947-67), but was evident much earlier through chief conductorships of the Halle (1939-42), Liverpool Philharmonic (1942-48), and BBC Symphony Orchestras (1950-57).
By the time he became a fixture at the Proms in 1947 Sir Malcolm (he was knighted in 1947) his was one of the best-known names in England. In personality, showmanship, and energy he was ideal for the nightly concerts.
This CD makes an OK introduction to the group's legacy, but not a great one, since the versions collected here of the band's biggest hits "Smoke on the Water," their cover of Joe South's "Hush," "Woman from Tokyo," and "Strange Kind of Woman" are all live versions and not the original radio mixes…
Jordi Savall's exemplary performance of Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks is among the finest available on disc: refined and precise, but very big, with blood-stirring grandeur. This is just the kind of extroverted, rousing presentation that best highlights the music's open-air ceremonial function. Savall's Le Concert des Nations is essentially a chamber orchestra with double or triple winds, but the sound he elicits from the group is majestic and surprisingly powerful. The playing is crisp and the rhythmic articulation bracing, but the sound is never brash. In fact, more often than not it is seductively sensual, a heady integration of precision and supple, shapely phrasing. Handel left no authoritative edition of the score of Water Music and it has traditionally been divided into three suites, but Savall reorders the material into two suites, a decision that makes more sense in terms of key relationships and that sounds entirely satisfying.