The compact collection

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Nostalgia is so much more interesting when it's someone else's. In record terms, vintage photos, advertisements and original sleeves recall aspects of fashion that help place old 78s in a meaningful context. Teldec's Legacy CDs happily provide the whole classical nostalgia package.

Nostalgia is so much more interesting when it's someone else's. In record terms, vintage photos, advertisements and original sleeves recall aspects of fashion that help place old 78s in a meaningful context. Teldec's Legacy CDs happily provide the whole classical nostalgia package.

A new batch of five Teldecs maintains high presentation standards, slipping each "Telefunken" CD into a scaled-down repro of an illustrated brown paper record sleeve.

All five CDs (which are excellently transferred) enshrine unforgettable performances. Die Dreigroschenoper, Berlin 1930 (0927 42663 2) finds the young Lotte Lenya girlish and vulnerable, backed by snappy small-band accompaniments. No other recordings of this work hit harder, and there are substantial period fill- ups featuring Marlene Dietrich. As well as Kurt Weill, there's music by Rudolf Nelson, Freidrich Holländer and Wilhelm Grosz.

A few months before Lenya recorded Weill, Erich Kleiber at the Berlin Philharmonic set down a well played and wittily characterised account of Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel. Kleiber's conducting was elegant, direct and even hot-headed, as in a rare and wild-eyed orchestration of Liszt's Tarantella included as part of an all-Kleiber Berlin programme (0927 42664 2). Schubert's "Unfinished" witnesses a maximum of contrast between its two movements and there's a stylish, and amazingly well recorded, 1930 Danse macabre.

The tenor Joseph Schmidt was diminutive and therefore a non-starter on stage but his velvet-toned singing vied with Tauber's for romantic ardour. His records are mostly fabulous, some for EMI, others – the ones reissued here – for Ultraphon (0927 42665 2, two discs). Try either Mozart's "Dies' Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" or Donizetti's "Una furtiva lagrima" and I challenge you to find a lovelier recording of either.

Great singing long served as inspiration for great string playing and to hear the Calvet Quartet perform Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" Quartet in 1937 is to encounter some of the most exquisitely "sung" quartet playing on disc. Other groups were as intelligent, poised or rigorous, but none achieved a sweeter tonal blend. The coupling (on 0927 42661 2) is the Quartet in E flat D87.

And, lastly, Brahms's Symphonies Nos 2 and 4 in keenly articulated and rhythmically driven 1938-40 performances by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra under Willem Mengelberg (0927 42662 2). Mengelberg's 50-year rule at the Concertgebouw was the musical pride of the Netherlands, broken only by war and confused political loyalties. Teldec's transfers are as good as any we've had so far – including those by Naxos, which offers the same programme more cheaply (on 8.110158), but without the "nostalgia" trimmings.

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