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 Box Set Selections, Boxed Set Selections - June 2018

Piano MastersThis month's heavyweight highlights include an 11-disc celebration of Leonard Bernstein as pianist (courtesy of the RCA Victor and Columbia Records archives), Wagner’s three early operas in fine modern performances under Sebastian Weigle from Frankfurt, Tchaikovsky’s complete operas in vintage live recordings from the Bolshoi, and a mammoth collection of albums from one of the most prolific pianists in recording history.

Piano Masters in Berlin

Maurizio Pollini, Emil Gilels, Daniel Barenboim, Yundi, Katia & Marielle Labèque and others

Released to mark Deutsche Grammophon’s 120th birthday, this collection features some of the ‘Yellow Label’’s most distinguished pianists in concertos with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Staatskapelle Berlin: Emil Gilels in Brahms, Maurizio Pollini in Beethoven, Martha Argerich in Tchaikovsky, Daniel Barenboim in Chopin, and Andor Földes in Liszt and Rachmaninov.

Available Format: 8 CDs

The Gounod Edition

Michel Corboz, Michel Plasson, Georges Prêtre, Giuseppe Patanè and others

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Gounod’s birth later this month, Warner mine the archives for vintage recordings of Faust (a complete version with Plácido Domingo, Mirella Freni and Nicolai Ghiaurov, plus highlights in German with Nicolai Gedda, Edda Moser and Kurt Moll), Mireille and Roméo et Juliette, the two symphonies, Mors et Vita, the Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile and more.

Available Format: 15 CDs

Anatol Ugorski: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon

Anatol Ugorski (piano)

This 13-CD collection of the elusive Russian pianist’s complete DG recordings includes Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, Piano Sonata Op. 111 and Bagatelles Op. 126, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Messiaen’s complete Catalogue d’oiseaux, the three Brahms Piano Sonatas, and generous selections of Chopin and Scriabin.

Available Format: 13 CDs

Reger: Orchestral Edition

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Bamberger Symphoniker, Chor der Bamberger Symphoniker, Gerd Albrecht, Horst Stein

Despite the title, this 12-CD box includes a comprehensive selection of Reger’s compositions for solo voices/chorus and orchestra (such as the Requiem, Psalm 100, Die Weihe der Nacht and Gesang der Verklärten) as well as the Variations and Fugues on Mozart, Hiller and Beethoven, Eine romantische Suite, Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy, the Sinfonietta, and the violin and piano concertos.

Available Format: 12 CDs

Leonard Bernstein - The Pianist

Leonard Bernstein (piano)

The first of this year’s centenary tributes to focus on the third strand of Bernstein’s career, this collection from the vaults of Columbia and RCA Victor presents him as song-pianist (Brahms with Christa Ludwig, Mahler with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Russian and French songs with Jennie Tourel), concerto soloist (in Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Shostakovich), chamber-musician (in Mozart and Schumann with the Juilliard Quartet), and interpreter of his own music (Anniversaries).

Available Format: 11 CDs

Wagner: The Early Operas

Frankfurter Opern-und Museumorchester & Chor der Opern Frankfurt, Sebastian Weigle

Made in Frankfurt in the early 2010s, these live recordings of Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot and Rienzi make a superb case for the non-Bayreuth operas, featuring singers such as Falk Struckmann, Peter Bronder and Anna Gabler who’ve won considerable acclaim in mainstream Wagner and (in Die Feen) some outstanding lyric voices including Christiane Karg, Brenda Rae and Julian Prégardien.

Available Format: 9 CDs

Beethoven: Complete String Quartets

Quartetto di Cremona

The Quartetto di Cremona’s Beethoven cycle (which they embarked upon in 2012) has been praised for its ‘visceral excitement and pulsating energy’ (BBC Music Magazine), ‘Italianate grace’ (The Guardian) and ‘blisteringly detailed playing’ (The Herald), with Vol. 7 winning an ECHO Klassik Award in 2017; this 8-CD collection also includes the String Quintet Op. 29.

Available Formats: 8 SACDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra Collection

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Six discs of previously unreleased live recordings made in the Doelen concert-hall between 2011 and 2016, including Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Debussy’s Nocturnes, and the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Piano Concerto (with Marc-André Hamelin) from 2013.

Available Format: 6 CDs

Beethoven: The 9 Symphonies

Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Collegium Vocal Gent, Philippe Herreweghe

Herreweghe’s Beethoven cycle has been described as ‘rhythmically alive and exciting’ (International Record Review on No. 9), ‘quietly convincing’ (Gramophone on Nos. 4 and 7) and ‘characteristically muscular and gritty’ (BBC Music Magazine on Nos. 5 & 8); soloists for the Ninth are Christiane Oelze, Ingeborg Danz, Christoph Strehl and David Wilson-Johnson.

Available Format: 5 SACDs

Tchaikovsky: Complete Operas

Soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre

Recorded at the Bolshoi between 1936 and 1963, this set includes complete performances of the well-known Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades as well as the less frequently-recorded Mazeppa, Cherevichki, Oprichnik, Iolanta, and The Maid of Orleans, plus the incidental music for Snegurochka and Hamlet, and the operatic fragments Romeo and Juliet and Mandragora.

Available Format: 22 CDs

Idil Biret: The Complete Studio Recordings 1959-2017

Idil Biret (piano)

134 discs bearing testimony to the immensely diverse and prolific career of the Turkish-born pianist (now 76 and still going strong), including her debut recording of Couperin, Bach, Beethoven and Debussy for RTF in 1949 and the Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos with Wilhelm Kempff from 1953, plus her complete recordings of Beethoven, Schumann and Rachmaninov and the Liszt 200th Anniversary Edition from 2011.

Available Format: 134 CDs