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Schubert: Piano Sonatas; Impromptus

András Schiff

Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

When András Schiff completed the recording of all of Schubert's piano sonatas in the 1990s, Decca released a box set containing all of the individual discs from the series. For this 2011 reissue, Decca goes one step further and includes Schiff's recordings of the Impromptus, the Moments musicaux, and several other shorter works. Schubert's music, along with that of Bach and Mozart, is one of the cornerstones upon which Schiff built his reputation as a thoughtful and intelligent performer. Anyone looking for a complete set of the Schubert sonatas could do much worse than to choose this one by one of the foremost Schubert interpreters of his generation. © TiVo
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Stravinsky: The Complete Ballets & Symphonies

Vladimir Ashkenazy

Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Anton Bruckner : 10 Symphonies

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO)

Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Rimsky-Korsakov: 5 Operas

Mariinsky Orchestra

Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Strauss, R.: Orchestral Works

Herbert von Karajan

Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Beethoven: Complete Concertos

Daniel Barenboim

Classical - Released October 6, 1997 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Rachmaninov: Symphonies Nos.1-3; The Bells; Symphonic Dances

Russian National Orchestra

Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
After his enormously popular piano concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (which are always among the most performed concert works), the most admired of Sergey Rachmaninov's large-scale orchestral compositions are his symphonies No. 1-3, the Symphonic Dances, The Isle of the Dead, The Rock, and the choral symphony, The Bells. They are imbued with the composer's characteristically brooding expressions, rich harmonies, and somber, mysterious themes, and their place among the great post-Romantic masterpieces is unchallenged today, despite a period in the mid-20th century when critical opinion was sometimes unkind. This box set is a good response to any rigid prejudices because Mikhail Pletnev's performances with the Russian National Orchestra do full justice to Rachmaninov's music and make the case for his skills as a symphonic composer. Yet Rachmaninov's orchestration is occasionally problematic because it is often dense and situated in the orchestra's middle range, so it takes a conductor of considerable ability to draw out the lines and make the counterpoint as transparent as possible. Pletnev does this with consistency, so the orchestra plays with precision and focused sound, and the textures are further clarified by Deutsche Grammophon's excellent recording. But even more important than the fine sound of the recordings are the sympathetic readings, which show Pletnev to have a thorough knowledge and emotional connection to this composer, which is vital in communicating the spiritual essence of his music. © TiVo
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Liszt: Complete Symphonic Poems (4 CD)

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Classical - Released January 1, 1972 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
At one point back in the days of LPs it seemed that conductor Bernard Haitink was waging an Ormandy-like campaign to record all of the Western orchestral literature for Philips. Moreover, for many listeners this was a welcome pursuit because Haitink was so good at so many things; his 1973 recording of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps is still considered one of the most superlative readings of the work, even though Haitink's catalog ultimately grew to the extent that it became difficult to single out what was best within it. One of his signature achievements, however, was his complete recording of the symphonic poems of Franz Liszt; Haitink was the first conductor to record all 10 of these works and likewise first to record in stereo the earliest symphonic poem in the cycle Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne (1848-1854). Initially issued as single LPs in 1972 as a five-LP box set, Haitink's cycle made its digital debut as two separate CDs as Philips' Duos; economical, but in generic packages that would hardly stand out from the crowd. Decca's four-disc box, Liszt: Complete Symphonic Poems is a huge improvement over the Philips Duos; it has an attractive design, some freshly written liner notes that are brief but serviceable, and even at full-price it costs only two-thirds of what buying both Philips Duos costs in order to get the complete set. At the time Haitink was undertaking this cycle, the jury was still out on the relative value of Liszt's orchestral music, though Les Preludes and Mephisto Waltz No. 1 -- both included on this set -- had always remained popular favorites; just a decade before, Leonard Bernstein had gotten the ball rolling through recording the Faust symphony for CBS; it would not be long before Herbert von Karajan discovered Tasso, Lamento e Trionfo to his liking. By the 21st century, all of Liszt's symphonic poems are regarded as major romantic orchestral literature and each of the 10 has something unique to offer, even if we do not remember Mazeppa or Die Ideale as readily as we do Les Preludes. The Haitink cycle of Liszt's symphonic poems, recorded between 1968 and 1972, was considered state-of-the-art in terms of recording quality back then and still sound terrific on CD. If one is familiar with romantic orchestral literature such as Brahms, Berlioz, or Tchaikovsky, then Liszt's symphonic poems will be a revelation to you; they stand halfway between French and German traditions, and this package from Decca is certainly one of the best available in a qualitative sense, and the asking price is certainly modest. © TiVo
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Telemann: Tafelmusik

Musica Antiqua Köln

Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | Archiv Produktion

Booklet
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Schumann: Piano Works

Wilhelm Kempff

Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
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Mahler: The Symphonies

Leonard Bernstein

Symphonies - Released January 1, 1991 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Of the two Mahler cycles Leonard Bernstein recorded in his career, the most influential and culturally important was the first, recorded with the New York Philharmonic in the 1960s and early '70s for Columbia, then later reissued by Sony. Even though it has been criticized for several faults, not least of which were Bernstein's willful choices of tempos, phrasing, and dynamics, it has nonetheless been recognized as one of the foundations of the Mahler revival and of true historic value. The second cycle was recorded in the 1980s for Deutsche Grammophon, and though these recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic were noted for their polish and greater faithfulness to the scores, they were less musically significant overall, for they came after many other conductors had raised performance standards for Mahler recordings, transcended Bernstein's interpretive powers, and expanded listeners' range of choices. The DG recordings were gathered in a 1991 box set of 13 CDs and laid out in a sequence fairly close to their numerical ordering, with few breaks between discs. This 2010 set presents the CDs in a trimmed-down box on 11 CDs, with the symphonies dramatically out of sequence and with breaks in all except the Symphonies No. 1 and No. 5. The reduced packaging and squeezed-in programming may be attractive to collectors who like saving space and who won't listen to the set often, but it will prove to be frustrating and confusing to people approaching Mahler for the first time. While Bernstein's legacy will hardly be affected by these externals, they are of some consequence to the listener's ease of playing and satisfaction with the product, which in turn will color reception and may dissuade some from giving this later cycle serious consideration for its musical worth. © TiVo
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W.A. Mozart : The String Quartets / Quatuors à cordes (Intégrale)

Amadeus Quartet

Classical - Released January 1, 1988 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
In the stereo era, before digital, there were two great sets of recordings of Mozart's string quartets: the Quartetto Italiano's for Philips and the Amadeus Quartet's for Deutsche Grammophon. The Italian quartet's performances were rich and ripe, lush and lovely, sweet and sensual; the Austrian-English quartet's performances, reissued here in 2010, are sensitive but intense, controlled but soulful, intimate but objective. Where the Quartetto Italiano saw Mozart's music from one point of view, the Amadeus Quartet took a more nuanced view, showing more sides of the composer, and arguably more depth. Technically, the Amadeus' players are just as fine as the Italiano's but naturally quite different; their tone is more pungent, their balances less blended, and their rhythms more buoyant than their counterparts. The Amadeus set has two distinct advantages over the Italians, however: that set includes the three Divertimentos K. 136-138, and fits on six discs, while the Italiano's is on eight. Sonically, it's a toss-up; Philips gives the Italiano quartet its trademark opulent stereo sound, while DG gives the Amadeus players their trademark crystalline stereo sound. © TiVo
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Beethoven: The 9 Symphonies

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Classical - Released January 1, 1994 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The 1990s were a peak period for historically informed performances, and the most praised box set to emerge from this boom time was John Eliot Gardiner's 1994 survey of Ludwig van Beethoven's nine symphonies, brilliantly played on original instruments by the redoubtable Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. If any early music conductor or authentic practice ensemble ever succeeded in changing public opinions and transforming standard repertoire, surely top honors belong to Gardiner and his musicians, for their refreshing takes on Beethoven's core masterpieces not only won over many converts to the cause, but permanently changed the way these works are played. The crisp sonorities, the brisk rhythms, and the volatile energy of these electric performances proved once and for all that Classical performances need not be fragile, dainty, or rarefied, but should be just as robust and invigorating as any mainstream interpretation, and even more exciting for taking a few risks. Indeed, it was Gardiner's ear-opening set that showed how stodgy and sluggish many of the older established Beethoven cycles sounded in comparison, and after this set was released, most new recordings revealed its impact, particularly in the adoption of revised tempos, leaner textures, and cleaner sonorities. Traditionalists may still balk at Gardiner's interpretations or find his changes unnerving (particularly the quicker tenor solo in the finale of the Ninth), but no one who claims to know the symphonies should ignore this set, for its significance in Beethoven studies cannot be overrated. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Bach, J.S.: The Organ Works

Simon Preston

Classical - Released July 12, 2000 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
One of the world's most respected interpreters of J.S. Bach's music, Simon Preston recorded the complete organ works for Deutsche Grammophon between 1987 and 2000 on organs located in England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. This 14-disc box set in the affordable Collectors Edition series brings together the trio sonatas, the preludes and fugues, the concertos, the orgelbüchlein, the chorales, and the Clavier-Übung, Part III, and also includes the toccatas, fantasias, partitas, and other pieces that appeared on separate releases. Preston's playing is lucid, alert, and incisive, and his choices of stops produce clear tones that make the counterpoint utterly transparent. If one listens to several discs in a row, Preston's consistently bright sonorities and mostly brisk tempos may seem a little predictable, but any perceived lack of variety is certainly compensated by his skill and thorough mastery of this massive body of work. These recordings present the organs in nearly ideal conditions, with superb sound quality in moderately resonant spaces and without the usual blemishes associated with church recordings, such as the noises of the instruments' mechanisms or random background distractions. Because the discs were printed with minimal content information, the booklet must be consulted for identifying particular works and their track listings. Included in the booklet is an essay on Bach's organ music, as well as a helpful alphabetical list of the works with their BWV numbers and the corresponding CDs. © TiVo
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Mendelssohn: The Complete Symphonies

Wiener Philharmonic Orchestra

Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
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Bach: Complete Keyboard Concertos

András Schiff

Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
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Johannes Brahms : Intégrale symphonique (Symphonies, Concertos, Ouvertures...)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
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Beethoven: The String Quartets

Emerson String Quartet

Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
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Schubert : The Symphonies

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Symphonies - Released January 1, 1988 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
Sets of Franz Schubert's complete symphonies fall into two categories, either presenting the Symphonies, Nos. 1-6; the two movements of the Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished"; and the Symphony No. 9, "Great," with or without miscellaneous filler pieces, or, more innovatively, offering all of the above, a reconstruction of the sketches for the Symphony No. 7, and a completion of the last two movements of the "Unfinished." While the latter would be best represented by Neville Marriner's fascinating box set on Philips, which includes even sketches for unnumbered symphonies and a Symphony No. 10, most sets follow the first and simpler layout, without any speculation over what Schubert might have written, and focus instead on the masterworks that are beyond any dispute. Claudio Abbado's set for Deutsche Grammophon basically belongs in the first category, because none of the sketches are bothered with. However, along with its unsurprising choice of the Rosamunde Overture as filler, the orchestrated "Grand Duo" Sonata in C major makes a rare appearance. This work was originally composed for piano duet, but the famous violinist Joseph Joachim arranged it in 1855, and it is the best-known orchestral treatment of this large-scale keyboard work. It has features common to Schubert's symphonic style of his last years and is fairly convincing for its resemblances in lyrical flow to the "Unfinished" and in its expansive framework to the "Great." Abbado's performances with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe are first-rate readings that have fresh touches that keep the listener alert for novelty, and the orchestra plays with spontaneity and warmth. Deutsche Grammophon's reproduction is exceptional, as always. © TiVo
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Antonin Dvorak: Complete Symphonies, Overtures

Witold Rowicki

Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Witold Rowicki's cycle of the symphonies of Antonin Dvorák with the London Symphony released on Philips in the late '60s and early '70s was only the second complete cycle of those works ever recorded. The first, István Kertész's Decca set from the mid-'60s, was also with the LSO. Rowicki's cycle has one huge advantage over Kertész's: the London musicians really knew the early symphonies after having learned them under the Hungarian conductor, and their playing here is much more polished than it was prior. Rowicki's cycle, though, has one huge disadvantage: Kertész's performances have a freshness and a sense of happy discovery that Rowicki cannot match. Beyond advantages and disadvantages, the two cycles are wonderfully complimentary. Where Kertész's Dvorák is at heart a lyrical composer in the style of Schubert, who wrote symphonies full of great themes and beautiful melodies, Rowicki's Dvorák is essentially a dramatic composer in the style of Beethoven, who wrote symphonies full of strong forms and powerful rhythms. Rowicki's Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh are big-boned, hard-muscled works, while Kertész's are more openly heart-on-the-sleeve. Where Rowicki's Eighth and Ninth are rhetorical works of imposing magnificence, Kertész's have a celebratory, almost populist bent. The biggest contrast, however, is between the first four symphonies, works that were thought lost until after the Second World War. Kertész finds all the beauty there is in these youthful works, but Rowicki's more cogent and much more driven interpretations make a better case for them as symphonies. Sonically, both cycles exemplified the best of their companies at the time. Decca gave Kertész lush, deep, and colorful sound, while Philips gave Rowicki crisp, bright, and immediate sound. In the end, both sets are superlative and both belong in the collection of anyone who admires and enjoys Dvorák's symphonies. © TiVo