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 Recording of the Week  Penguin Rosettes and Building a Library

One of the wonderful things about shopping on the Internet is that you can have almost infinite choice. If you are hunting for rare works or difficult to find specialist recordings then this is of course ideal, but if you are looking for a recommended recording of a more mainstream work, having two hundred different ones to browse through isn’t going to help much. In fact, what you probably need is some sort of recommendation or guidance towards which ones you should be considering.

We have therefore taken quite a lot of effort over recent years to highlight recordings with some sort of award or recommendation attached to them, and when browsing the works pages for example you’ll often find certain recommended recordings listed at the top of the page.

Two of the awards that seem to command the most respect amongst our customers are the ‘ Penguin Guide Rosettes’ and the ‘Radio 3 Building a Library Top Recommendations’.

The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music has remained probably the best and the most successful book to buying classical music for over forty years. Although primarily a review-based publication, a few select recordings in the guide are given a ‘Rosette’ symbol to indicate an extra special quality. The editors make no bones about the fact that these Rosette awards are essentially arbitrary, but personally I like the fact that any one of the editors can be so moved or impressed by a recording that they can give it this award without having to particularly rank or justify it, and in any case they will always explain in the accompanying review why they feel it deserves such a special merit. On the negative side this means that sometimes a work can end up with two or even three different Rosette recordings, while a work of equal stature can end up with none. Our standard Penguin Rosette page acts as an index page from which you can view all the current Penguin Rosette discs.

Taking the opposite approach, BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library is a weekly radio programme that picks one work each week and over the course of forty-five minutes a specialist reviewer illustrates and decides upon a First Choice or ‘Top Recommendation’ from all available recordings at the time. We tend to sell a lot of the First Choice recording over the few days after broadcast and if you are looking for a great recording of a particular work, looking first on our Building a Library page is always a good place to start. The negative of Building a library (if there is one) is that visiting one work a week is really not enough and so sometimes you will find that even a fairly mainstream work has not been covered for ten or more years.

In recognition of the importance of these two awards we have negotiated special deals on over four hundred discs, and with discounts of up to 25% off it is a maybe a good time to revisit your core record collection as there are definitely some bargains to be had on many terrific recordings.


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