There's a vogue for CD distributors to issue bulk box sets at budget prices but few can compete with this limited-edition 55-CD set of top artists and renowned recordings.
The 14 "mature" symphonies feature both authentic and modern readings under maestros Herbert von Karajan, James Levine and Trevor Pinnock.
Star soloists are abundant in concertos, including pianists Emil Gilels, Maurizio Pollini, Maria Joao Pires, violinist Itzhak Perlman and violist Pinchas Zukerman. The conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, meanwhile, takes up all the woodwind concertos and the elegant Gran Partita.
In sonatas, the star factor goes even higher with the late Vladimir Horowitz and Friedrich Gulda at the piano, and Perlman and Augustin Dumay on the violin. Christoph Eschenbach and Justus Frantz, both active conductors now, perform here as a power piano duo.
The four CDs that feature serenades and divertimentos include Karl Bohm's celebrated Haffner Serenade, as well as Karajan and Levine's digital takes, all in superb sound quality.
In vocal works, the Great C Minor Mass came from Leonard Bernstein's digital recording, whereas the famous Requiem is Claudio Abbado's 1999 version in memory of Karajan. Topping it all is six operas, including Don Giovanni, conducted by Abbado (below), Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Marriage of Figaro, Bohm's Magic Flute, and John Eliot Gardiner's Idomeneo.
Though libretto is not included, the 144-page booklet offers rare photographs of participating artists, with the original cover art for each CD, all German pressings.
Oliver ChouTopics: Music