Decca's Ultimate Classics is a five-CD box set that presents the best-known pieces of classical music in a straightforward, no-frills program. Most of the selections are quite famous, taken from larger works by such great masters as Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and many others, so beginners and casual listeners are sure to find many of the most familiar melodies here. The information provided with the set consists only of tracklistings and identification of performers, so there is no material on the background of the music, the composers' lives, or the original albums these recordings appeared on.
Although altoist Julius Hemphill gets top billing on this CD, his heart surgery in 1993 forced him to stop playing. However, this saxophone sextet was his regular group; he contributed six of the eight compositions (the other two are free improvisations) and the chancetaking heard throughout this adventurous music definitely makes most of the performances sound like they came from a Julius Hemphill recording even if his alto is missed.