New EMI Icon sets

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Ted Quanrud
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New EMI Icon sets

Post by Ted Quanrud » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:50 pm

EMI has announced four new Icon sets for release in mid September:

Witold Malcuzynski - 8 CDs (mostly Chopin, but also Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Liszt)

Paavo Berglund - 13 CDs (Smetana, Grieg, Sibelius, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich)

Yehudi Menuhin - 12 CDs (Bach, Mozart, Paganini, Beethoven, Brahms, Elgar, Kreisler, Enescu).

Wolfgang Sawallisch - 8 CDs (complete Beethoven and Brahms symphonies)

IN278S
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by IN278S » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:21 pm

I've never heard the Sawallisch Beethoven cycle; any opinions? I found the Brahms cycle rather ho-hum, a real disappointment given his classic Schumann Symphonies.

Ted Quanrud
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by Ted Quanrud » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:19 pm

IN278S wrote:I've never heard the Sawallisch Beethoven cycle; any opinions? I found the Brahms cycle rather ho-hum, a real disappointment given his classic Schumann Symphonies.
I'm not obsessive about the Icon series-- I've avoided several sets. The Sawallisch Brahms is indeed nothing special and I've never heard anything about the Beethoven cycle. It had better be something extraordinary before i spring for it.

I want the Malcuzynski and the Menuhin and not not sure about the Berglund. I have much of his work and admire him greatly, but both my record shelf and lifespan are getting shorter.

CharmNewton
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by CharmNewton » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:38 pm

The Malcuzynski set interests me as well.

I've seen photos of these with the Warner Classics logo, not EMI. I find it a bit disconcerting. I hope the EMI brand isn't disappearing.

John

IN278S
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by IN278S » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:13 am

CharmNewton wrote:I've seen photos of these with the Warner Classics logo, not EMI. I find it a bit disconcerting. I hope the EMI brand isn't disappearing.
Universal owns the EMI brand, so we can expect to see it on their pop music releases.

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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by Lance » Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:05 am

Yes, I'm eager to have all except the Wolfgang Sawallisch. I think of him more as the "accompanying" conductor yet he has done some wonderful things (such as the Schumann). What I do NOT need, however, is another complete set of Beethoven's Nine. Berglund is so well known for his traversal of the Sibelius symphonies, and I have two versions of those by him and believe them to be exceptional. The EMI/Icon set brings out much material that illustrates Berglund in many lights. He seems to be developing quite a following on recordings more recently. The Malcuzynski, of course, is of great interest, especially the NON-Chopin items. I hope his Prelude, Chorale and Fugue by Franck is included in this set. (He previously recorded for American Columbia in the early days of LPs.) And the Menuhin ... probably much of this material has been reissued by Biddulph and much of Menuhin's material has been reissued by EMI already.
Ted Quanrud wrote:EMI has announced four new Icon sets for release in mid September:

Witold Malcuzynski - 8 CDs (mostly Chopin, but also Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Liszt)

Paavo Berglund - 13 CDs (Smetana, Grieg, Sibelius, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich)

Yehudi Menuhin - 12 CDs (Bach, Mozart, Paganini, Beethoven, Brahms, Elgar, Kreisler, Enescu).

Wolfgang Sawallisch - 8 CDs (complete Beethoven and Brahms symphonies)
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John F
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by John F » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:30 am

Wolfgang Sawallisch was first and foremost an opera conductor, and a very good one. But like some others who excelled in opera, James Levine among them, he seemed (to me) to have less to say in music without words and/or without soloists having ideas of their own. The dynamics of the marketplace rather than any compelling artistic need were why he recorded the Beethoven and Brahms cycles - twice! - and why EMI has now reissued them in another of its Big Boxes.
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:57 pm

John F wrote:Wolfgang Sawallisch was first and foremost an opera conductor, and a very good one. But like some others who excelled in opera, James Levine among them, he seemed (to me) to have less to say in music without words and/or without soloists having ideas of their own. The dynamics of the marketplace rather than any compelling artistic need were why he recorded the Beethoven and Brahms cycles - twice! - and why EMI has now reissued them in another of its Big Boxes.
I would listen to Levine's non operatic recordings in a heartbeat, Sawallisch I would not cross the street to hear in anything but Opera.

As for why EMI has chosen to release his recordings as a box, it may simply be that by creating the box it gives them the recordings in a digital format, thus allowing it on Amazon, iTunes and other platforms.

Whilst those of us here would not bother with them, unsuspecting newbies might pick them up, of course I don't agree they are worth releasing but my suspicion is that EMI is slowly but surely releasing almost its entire back catalog, the boxes are produced in small numbers, but the digital files stay around forever.

Of course EMI has many treasures in its vaults, but also a fair share of merely workmanlike performances, I think the bean counters controlling the company care little about quality any more, they just throw stuff out there and hope it sells.

I doubt you go to many record shops any more, John, even if you could find one, but EMI repackages its core repertoire of Opera recordings as often as twice in one year, I have no idea why, but the same recordings are rereleased time after time, EMI is now a dead horse, and it's owners continue to flog it.
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by John F » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:09 pm

Chalkperson wrote:my suspicion is that EMI is slowly but surely releasing almost its entire back catalog, the boxes are produced in small numbers, but the digital files stay around forever.
Interesting, and plausible. Direct-to-disc masters last just about forever, barring fire or flood, but tape masters deteriorate, sometimes very fast, especially analog recordings on acetate recording tape. Audio preservation is a much needed specialty, then, and not just by record companies; the sound archives of performing organizations and major libraries also do it, as far as they can afford to.
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by absinthe » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:33 pm

I'll be looking out for the Menuhin set, in particular for the Mendelssohn and the Lalo. I love his reading of the latter and it may persuade me to part with the LP though the other pieces on it are pleasant. But there's plenty of other good stuff in the set.

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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by Modernistfan » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:58 pm

True regarding James Levine. One of his essential recordings is Deutsche Grammophon 419781-2 with the Berlin Philharmonic with Alban Berg's Three Orchestral Pieces, op. 6, Anton Webern's Six Orchestral Pieces, op. 6, and Arnold Schoenberg's Five Orchestral Pieces, op. 16. This may be the best record ever made of Second Viennese School music. Not a soprano or tenor in sight.

Get well, Jimmy, your art form desperately needs you!

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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by John F » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:06 am

I haven't heard that recording of the most standard orchestral works of the Viennese threesome, though I've heard him conduct some of those works in concert. For me, Levine's highest achievements in the music of the Second Viennese School have been his Metropolitan Opera performances of "Wozzeck," "Lulu," and especially "Moses und Aron." After one of these I bumped into David Hamilton, who knew whereof he spoke, and he said I was unlikely ever to hear a more beautiful performance of "Moses und Aron." I haven't yet.

The record business being what it is, none of these performances have been released by commercial record companies. You have to get the Met's own commemorative Levine set, now on sale at the Met Opera Shop for $130 (32 CDs). By all means do.

http://www.metoperashop.org/shop/james- ... et-cd-4113

Other prizes in that box set as well, such as his extraordinary "Pelléas et Mélisande." The performances are also available on individual CDs.

Alternative Levine performances of "Wozzeck" and "Lulu" are in the 11-opera, 21-DVD set of Levine-Met telecasts, on sale at the Met Opera Shop for $200. Also available on individual DVDs.

http://www.metoperashop.org/shop/james- ... d-set-4114

This is the real Levine. And he'll be conducting "Wozzeck" next season, if his health holds up: March 6, 10, 13, 17, and 22, the last of these to be broadcast. No HD telecast. Thomas Hampson and Deborah Voigt make their role debuts as Wozzeck and Marie.
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:02 pm

You can plug his Opera readings, just like always, so I will plug some of the Orchestral ones.

You only need to listen to the Ravel to realize that Conducting the Met Opera is not the only 'real' Levine, and I think he would agree with me...

Brahms Symphonies - CSO
Mahler Symphonies - CSO - LSO - VPO
Beethoven Concertos with Brendel - CSO
Holst - Planets - CSO
Mendelssohn - Midsummer's Nights Dream coupled with Schubert's Rosamunde - CSO
Tchaikovsky - Ballet Suites - VSO
Berlioz Requiem - Berlin
Ravel - Daphnes etc BSO Live
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John F
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Re: New EMI Icon sets

Post by John F » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:50 pm

I have several Levine orchestral recordings, though none of those you listed, and have been to some symphony concerts he has conducted. The recordings are well played and efficiently conducted, but to my ears have no added interpretive value; the Mozart symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic are a deep disappointment. In concerts, his best work has been in vocal and choral works; maybe the words help him to find an expressive way with the music. (He's also a fine Lieder accompanist at the piano.) For the rest, my strongest memory is of a Munich Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall in which Brahms's 4th Symphony was played so coarsely and loud that I was almost chased out of the auditorium. To be fair, Anthony Tommasini gave that concert a friendly review. But so what? I listen with my own ears, not his or yours or anyone else's. :)
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