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Album: Various Artists, Lumières: Music Of The Enlightenment (Harmonia Mundi)


It might seem a fool's errand to attempt to encapsulate the musical developments of the 18th century in a single package, given the era's heavyweight talents include Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.

But Harmonia Mundi have somehow contrived to telescope that most industriously inventive of musical centuries into this 30CD set, by dint of ingenious thematic programming which apportions discs to different modes - such as String quartets, Piano sonatas, Symphonies, or Opera. The latter occupies the biggest portion of the project, coverage spread across eight CDs, including complete performances of Castor Et Pollux, Orfeo Ed Eurydice, and Le Nozze Di Figaro - the latter two staged by Rene Jacobs. Likewise, three CDs of Symphonies include three complete Haydns and two Mozarts, leading up to a climactic Herreweghe version of Beethoven's 9th. At around £50 for 30 CDs, it's an indisputable bargain box.

Download This: Le Nozze Di Figaro; Symphony No. 9; Orfeo Ed Eurydice; Le Quattro Stagioni