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 Box Set Selections, Boxed Set Selections - March 2018

Christa LudwigA great month for collectors of Russian repertoire, with bumper boxes from Brilliant Classics and Melodiya focusing on the piano concerto and choral works respectively – some real rarities in both of these, as well as a few top-notch performances of more mainstream works. There are also extensive birthday tributes to both Christa Ludwig and The King’s Singers, a compendium of Jordi Savall’s excavations of Spanish music over the course of five centuries, and the world premiere recordings of the complete Beethoven symphonies in versions for just a dozen or so players.

Released in anticipation of the German mezzo’s ninetieth birthday on Friday, this 11-CD box focuses primarily on her interpretations of Lied, including complete performances of all the great Mahler cycles, Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder, two full discs of Brahms (plus the Alto Rhapsody), and a rare glimpse of Ludwig in Rossini (La regata veneziana). Includes previously unreleased material.

Available Formats: 11 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Various artists

15 CDs exploring the development of the piano concerto in Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from well-known warhorses by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov to rarities by Lyapunov, Medtner, Arensky, Kabalevsky, Glazunov and Balakirev. Soloists include Boris Giltburg (in the Shostakovich concertos, with Vasily Petrenko and the Liverpool Philharmonic).

Available Format: 15 CDs

USSR State Academic Symphony Orchestra, various choirs, Evgeny Svetlanov

The final instalment of Melodiya’s popular Svetlanov anthologies focuses on large-scale choral works by Russian composers, including Rimsky Korsakov’s cantata From Homer, Shostakovich’s From Jewish Poetry, Alexander Kastalsky’s Brotherly Prayer for the Dead (an elegy for the fallen of World War One), and the first release of a live 1991 recording of Rachmaninov’s mighty Vespers.

Available Format: 11 CDs

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Monteux, Igor Stravinsky, Sergiu Celibidache

Made between 1957 and 2006, the live recordings on this 13-CD collection include numerous rarities by Israeli composers (such as Noam Sheriff, Paul Ben-Haim and Menachem Avidom) as well as Zubin Mehta conducting Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, Pierre Monteux in Ravel, Elgar and Beethoven, and Igor Stravinsky in excerpts from his Firebird Suite. Soloists include Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.

Available Format: 13 CDs

Taschenphilharmonie, Peter Stangel

The world premiere recordings of the Edition Taschenphilharmonie’s chamber arrangements of the complete Beethoven symphonies, scored for between 12 and 16 players; these ‘pocket versions’ draw their inspiration from Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances, which gave small-scale recitals of works by Mahler, Debussy, Richard Strauss and other in 1920s Vienna.

Available Formats: 6 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Alban Berg Quartett

A 7-CD collection including the Prussian, Dissonance and Hoffmeister quartets, in performances described by Gramophone as ‘exceptionally intimate and refined’; Alfred Brendel joins for the Piano Quartet K493 and a chamber arrangement of Piano Concerto No. 12.

Available Formats: 7 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Originally released in 2012, the Russian pianist’s complete recordings of Tchaikovsky’s solo piano works (often unfairly neglected at the expense of the concertos) was praised by Gramophone at the time for offering ‘a virtually ideal blend of affection, respect and intelligence, not to speak of virtuoso command’.

Available Formats: 7 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Hesperion XX & Ricercare-Ensemble, Jordi Savall, Michel Piguet

An 11-CD collection spanning five centuries of Spanish music (1200-1700) and bringing together some of Savall’s most vital and innovative recordings, including Cansós de Trobairitz (1978), Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (1979), Canciones y danzas de España (1989), and El barroco español (1998).

Available Format: 11 CDs

Whilst the majority of the collections released in advance of The King’s Singers’ fiftieth birthday this year have celebrated the group’s diversity in terms of repertoire, this 8-CD box shines the spotlight on their achievements in the field of Renaissance music; Lassus gets two discs to himself, and there are also whistle-stop tours through the evolution of the madrigal in Italy, England, France and Spain.

Available Formats: 8 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Carlo Maria Giulini

Giulini’s distinguished guests on this 11-CD boxed set include Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in three Beethoven concertos, Krystian Zimerman in Chopin’s concertos, Lazar Berman in Liszt, Brigitte Fassbender and Francisco Araiza in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, and Kathleen Battle and Andreas Schmidt in Fauré’s Requiem.

Available Format: 11 CDs