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Box Set Selections, Boxed Set Selections - March 2024

William Steinberg Complete Command Classics RecordingsThis month's heavyweights include William Steinberg & the Pittsburgh Symphony's complete recordings on Command Classics, Sir Neville Marriner's Beethoven recordings with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Mozart anthologies from Frans Brüggen and Sigiswald Kuijken, the Cherubini-Quartett's collected recordings for Warner Classics, and the final instalment of Peter Kofler's survey of Bach's organ works from St. Michael's Church in Munich.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, William Steinberg

William Steinberg had been at the helm of the Pittsburgh Symphony for almost a decade when he and the orchestra were signed by the newly-launched Command Classics label, after its founder Enoch Light was impressed by a concert which they gave in Connecticut. This 17-CD set brings together the many fine recordings which they made together between 1961 and 1968, including complete cycles of the Beethoven and Brahms symphonies, Copland's Billy The Kid and Appalachian Spring Suites, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, Stravinsky's Petrushka, and orchestral excerpts from Wagner's operas.

Available Format: 17 CDs

This collection of recordings by Viennese chamber music ensembles includes the Wiener Bläserensemble's debut album of works by Hindemith, Janáček and Ligeti, Schoenberg's Wind Quintet from the same forces, a 'superbly poised and polished' (Stereo Review) account of the Schubert Octet from 1976/77 (receiving its first CD release here), a 1980 recording of Mozart's Gran Partita, and the Wiener Bläserensemble's final recording from 1992 - comprising Beethoven's rarely-recorded Octet and Sextet.

Read Rob Cowan's review of this box and its companion-set.

Available Format: 18 CDs

Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner

To mark the centenary of Marriner's birth on 15th April, Decca presents his recordings of Beethoven's complete symphonies (made between 1970 and 1989), a string-orchestra transcription of the Grosse Fuge from 1974, two 1980 accounts of the Violin Concerto (with Gidon Kremer and Iona Brown), Wellington's Victory, the Consecration of the House Overture, and a 1980 album of the Minuets, German Dances and Contredanses (originally released on Philips in 1978 and described as 'winningly done' by Gramophone's Edward Greenfield).

Available Format: 10 CDs

Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, Alexander Shelley

Released in four chapters between 2020 and 2023, this series exploring the personal and musical connections between Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms has been praised for the 'the terrific playing of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra' (Gramophone) and the 'exquisite phrasing and colour' on display (The Yorkshire Times). Highlights include Gabriela Montero's 'free-spirited, fire-centred and uninhibitedly expressive' (BBC Music Magazine) account of Clara's Piano Concerto, her Three Romances from Yosuke Kawasaki & Angela Hewitt, and the complete symphonies of both men.

Available Format: 8 CDs

Orchestra of the 18th Century, Frans Brüggen

Mozart has sat at the heart of Brüggen's Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century since its inception in 1981, and this set brings together all their recordings of his music on the Glossa label. Highlights include the last three symphonies, Arias for Aloysia Weber with coloratura soprano Cynthia Sieden, the complete violin concertos with Thomas Zehetmair, arias from La clemenza di Tito with Joyce DiDonato & clarinettist Eric Hoeprich, and a live 1998 recording of the Requiem from Tokyo.

Available Format: 9 CDs

La Petite Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken

Released to mark the Belgian violinist and conductor's eightieth birthday, this limited-edition collection includes his recordings of the complete violin sonatas with fortepianist Luc Devos, the flute quartets with his brothers Barthold & Wieland and Lucy van Dael, and a selection of Cassations and divertimenti with La Petite Bande. Reviewing the set of violin sonatas back in 2018, Classical Music observed that 'the violin sound is lean; the fortepiano is well caught, and the general impression is bright...The later Vienna Sonatas (K454, 481 and 526) have gravitas and charm in equal measure.'

Available Format: 8 CDs

Formed in 1978 in Düsseldorf under the patronage of the Amadeus Quartet and Sándor Végh, the Cherubini-Quartett signed to EMI ten years later and recorded for the label until the group was disbanded in 1997. The repertoire here includes the complete string quartets of Mendelssohn and Schumann, plus a number of recordings involving distinguished guests - notably Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in Othmar Schoeck's Notturno and Siegfried Matthus's Nachtlieder, Barbara Hendricks & Michel Dalberto in Chausson's Chanson perpétuelle and Massenet's Tristesse du soir, and Schumann's Piano Quintet with Christian Zacharias.

Available Format: 13 CDs

Peter Kofler (organ)

This is the final instalment of the Italian-born musician's survey of Bach's organ works, which began in 2017; the entire series was recorded on the four-manual Rieger organ of the Jesuit Church of St. Michael’s in Munich. Reviewing the first volume, Gramophone applauded the 'spectacularly vivid sound' and also observed that 'Kofler’s playing has a real sense of communication, portraying these works with conviction and enthusiasm supported by a splendidly robust and fluent technique.'

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