NEVILLE MARRINER / THE ARGO YEARS 4786883

. . . a splendid 28-CD set . . . [the range of music here is remarkable] and the playing is uniformly stylish, energised, crisp and expressive . . . there's so much to enjoy . . . [there's a fine "Messiah"] with excellent solo singing from Elly Ameling, Anna Reynolds, Philip Langridge and Gwynne Howell, and some superb choral work from Lászlo Heltay's ASMF Chorus. Marriner keeps everything nipping along with lively rhythms and stylish phrasing . . . String music always brought out the best in Marriner and the ASMF, and there's a great selection here . . . this is a set I'm going to keep in the car and listen to again and again.

. . . [a] crisp, jewel-like sonority . . . the playing is deft, taut and exciting . . . [Stravinsky / "Pulcinella-Suite", "Apollo"]: an outstanding record in every way . . . it is the elegant, characterful solos . . . that places this account in a special category . . . I had forgotten just how outstanding these recordings are . . . [R. Strauss, Wagner, Baermann, Schoenberg / CD 5]: a simply glorious and very full disc . . . [Vivaldi / "Le quattro stagioni" / CD 6]: Alan Loveday is the brilliant, fantastical soloist here, arguably unsurpassed . . . The music-making has verve and colour and the sonics are top-notch . . . Everything is immaculate as per usual with Nielsen's "Little Suite" and Dag Wirén's "Serenade for Strings" giving the ASMF an opportunity to display its trademark rhythmic snap . . . Grieg's reflective "Elegiac Melodies" are unimprovably good. A lovely disc in every way . . . outstanding material . . . [the music-making] is simply tremendous.

His performances of music of the Classical period . . . were characterized by [vitality and energy] . . . Decca has mined the Argo catalogue . . . and produced a superb survey of Marriner's work with the Academy during this important period . . . splendid accounts of string works . . . plus serenades by Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák and (charm bursting from every bar) Dag Wirén . . . [to opera] he brought the same style and vitality to these dramatic creations as he did to orchestral repertoire; it's no surprise that one of the world's great concerto partners should also be a master "in the pit". His debut operatic recording -- Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia" -- sparkles from start to finish and conjures up the atmosphere of the theatre remarkably . . . [not surprisingly] "Il turco in Italia" followed -- to comparable acclaim.