The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

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The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by Lance » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:38 am

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... US218_.jpg
Sony Classical 40406, 75 CDs

I have always had a passion for the playing of Rudolf Serkin, especially anything he played of Schubert, but then there was Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn (the piano concertos rank among my favourite recordings), Bach, Reger, Brahms, a smattering of Chopin, Prokofiev, Bartok, Schumann, Haydn, Strauss, solo works, concertos, chamber works. The man's life all preserved in a box of 75 CDs. We can hear some concertos many times as preserved from the days of 78s through to the stereo era. If one has this magnificently put-together boxed set, his EMI/HMV recordings and lastly his DGG recordings, we can fully cover the man's entire artistic life. Personally, I always preferred Serkin's piano sound in his early HMV recordings (I believe he played Bechstein pianos then, switching to American Steinways after he came to the USA).

One could go on and on about this box, one I consider a treasure. Rudolf's son, Peter, writes the preface to the set. An excellent article by Jurgen Kesting appears in the book. I learned that Serkin had his admirers: Horowitz, Richter, and many other great pianists. The collaborators include Ormandy, Szell, Bruno Walter, Alexander Schneider, Leonard Bernstein, Fritz Reiner, Peter Serkin, Horszowski, Casals, Hermann and Adolf Busch, Harold Wright, Benita Valente, Leon Fleisher, and many others. Also included are rare recordings with soprano Hulda Lashanska, Emanuel Feuermann and Mischa Elman

All the discs have facsimile covers and labels of the LPs. The booklet gives complete discographical information, dates, venutes along with colour copies of of each LP. Most of the recordings were made in Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York, and Vermont where Serkin and others formed the famous Music at Marlboro concerts, still going full force to this day.

This is all I can say at the moment ... it is too massive to go into details other than to fully recomend it. A major contribution to the world of recorded music by one of the great exponents of the piano. Sony Classical gets a big handshake on this one.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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maestrob
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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by maestrob » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:13 pm

That's for me! Thanks, Lance!

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by John F » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:10 am

What I'd like to see would be a collection of Serkin concerts and broadcasts, which sometimes (maybe often) were more spontaneous than his studio work. For example, he played three Mozart concertos with Leinsdorf and the BSO at Tanglewood one summer which, for me, are the best Serkin Mozart I've heard. Doesn't look like there's much chance of that, unfortunately.
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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by jserraglio » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:45 am

I heard Serkin play the Diabelli Var live in Boston (Jordan Hall?) late sixties. Very special.

I have quite a few live bcsts featuring Serkin, and there are a ton more of them circulating among collectors. Should the best of them be officially issued? Sure. Will they? Unlikely.

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by Lance » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:48 pm

Indeed, there's more actual live material out there than people know. A lot of it is much the same music he recorded commercially. One of our former members of CMG (he passed on) provided me with a number of copies of Serkin's live recitals.
jserraglio wrote:
Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:45 am
I heard Serkin play the Diabelli Var live in Boston (Jordan Hall?) late sixties. Very special.

I have quite a few live bcsts featuring Serkin, and there are a ton more of them circulating among collectors. Should the best of them be officially issued? Sure. Will they? Unlikely.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by Lance » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:39 pm

A little more information about this set. All recordings were made between 1939 to 1985. 35 of the recordings are newly remastered, mixed and mastered from the original analogue tapes using 24 bit / 192kHz technology; 13 recordings are being issued for the first time on CD; 15 recordings are issued as the first authorized releases, and 7 recordings are remastered.

Going through the box is a marathon job, but what a great job; it will be a slow process, to be sure. The first recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 was made with Rudolf Serkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner (talk about a dream collaboration!). It was recorded at the Syria Mosque on February 2, 1946. This was issued "unauthorized" on the now defunct Lys label as Volume 5 [Cat. No. 127] in their traversal of Reiner's early recordings, and may have been issued elsewhere. However, this remastering is cleaned up considerably giving the highs more clarity. I don't believe Reiner and Serkin made any other recordings together given their record label contracts, Columbia and RCA respectively. Who would ever have thought these two great and highly competitive record companies would merge one day?

This release remains an incredible achievement from the house of Columbia-RCA/Sony.
Lance G. Hill
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______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by John F » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:34 am

Lance wrote:The first recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 was made with Rudolf Serkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner (talk about a dream collaboration!). It was recorded at the Syria Mosque on February 2, 1946. This was issued "unauthorized" on the now defunct Lys label
Just for clarification, this Columbia recording was originally published on 78s and LP by Columbia Records, so authorized versions of it have been available from the beginning. I think it's not only Serkin's best recording of the piece but one of his best recordings, period. Good to have it back in a restored reissue.

When you say that "15 recordings are issued as the first authorized releases," does that mean they've already been published but not by the company that made them, in this case Columbia and its successor labels? I'd be interested to know what they are.
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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by jserraglio » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:04 am

Some good info on the Serkin box here, with contributions by Lance and Mark Obert-Thorn.
https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!top ... EVqB4lExMw
Nothing there, though, about the identity of the 15 first authorized releases.

------------------------------

I like all of the Reiner/Pittsburgh recordings I have been able to hear, even the electronic stereo reissues on Columbia Special Products LPs. IIRC, the DSCH 6 c/w Kodaly/Bartok/Kabalevsky/Weiner/Glinka and the LvB 2 c/w the WAM 35/40 were reissued on CD by Sony Masterworks Heritage. Those sound great.


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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by arepo » Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:00 pm

Speaking of the Brahms 1st Concerto. .
I was a student at Curtis in 1945 and had the rare privilege of accompanying Rudolf in two practice sessions where I played the orchestra part of the first and last movement. It was a scary assignment but I enjoyed the thrill of playing with this great man.
Seems like only yesterday...... :) :)
cliftwood

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by Lance » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:25 pm

I guess the Reiner recording was withdrawn by Columbia when alternate versions were made by that label. Indeed, from 78s first and then transferred to LPs, which were difficult to find after awhile. I did manage to find it, but this version is the best transfer I have yet heard.

Insofar as the 15 recordings authorized recordings issued in this set, nothing is noted that I can find thus far that indicates which ones they are. I could probably do a search on it since, near as I know I have everything ever done by Serkin in one form or another, authorized versions or not. Serkin was such as esteemed pianist that it doesn't surprise me that many of his early recordings were issued "unauthorized" by other labels. The live recordings he made with Mitropoulos, for example, were never recorded by Columbia for commercial release. Few live recordings were issued in the early LP days, a practice that has changed considerably over time, good for us collectors who go for such material. I feel certain someone interested in Serkin and in this set in particular will come forth with the needed additional details. I believe, also, that some of the recordings in the new set (especially with the Busch brothers from live concerts in Washington, D.C. for example) are among these "authorized" releases. It would have behooved Sony to include in the booklet such notices as first CD issue, or first authorized release.
John F wrote:
Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:34 am
Lance wrote:The first recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 was made with Rudolf Serkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner (talk about a dream collaboration!). It was recorded at the Syria Mosque on February 2, 1946. This was issued "unauthorized" on the now defunct Lys label
Just for clarification, this Columbia recording was originally published on 78s and LP by Columbia Records, so authorized versions of it have been available from the beginning. I think it's not only Serkin's best recording of the piece but one of his best recordings, period. Good to have it back in a restored reissue.

When you say that "15 recordings are issued as the first authorized releases," does that mean they've already been published but not by the company that made them, in this case Columbia and its successor labels? I'd be interested to know what they are.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by Lance » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:26 pm

WOW, Harris ... what an honour to have worked with Serkin. Such memories. Tell us more about all this!
arepo wrote:
Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:00 pm
Speaking of the Brahms 1st Concerto. .
I was a student at Curtis in 1945 and had the rare privilege of accompanying Rudolf in two practice sessions where I played the orchestra part of the first and last movement. It was a scary assignment but I enjoyed the thrill of playing with this great man.
Seems like only yesterday...... :) :)
cliftwood
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by John F » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:06 pm

Columbia rerecorded Szell in the Brahms 1st concerto in 1954, replacing a 78 rpm original with a monaural LP original. This was unusual. I'm guessing that it may have had to do with Reiner taking over the Chicago Symphony in 1953 and becoming an exclusive RCA Victor artist. Also at about that time, Capitol Records began their high-fidelity series with the Pittsburgh Symphony under William Steinberg. Columbia weren't obliged to withdraw their Reiner/Pittsburgh recordings, and I believe some of those Columbias remained on the market until stereo LPs displaced them a few years later. But maybe Columbia didn't want to continue promoting a conductor and/or orchestra that were now identified with their American rivals. Just a guess, as I said.
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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by jserraglio » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:54 am

John F wrote:
Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:06 pm
Columbia weren't obliged to withdraw their Reiner/Pittsburgh recordings, and I believe some of those Columbias remained on the market until stereo LPs displaced them a few years later. But maybe Columbia didn't want to continue promoting a conductor and/or orchestra that were now identified with their American rivals. Just a guess, as I said.
Columbia reissued some of those Reiner/PSO recordings (not the Serkin-Reiner Brahms PC 1, available in stereo with Szell) in fake stereo on their Special Products label in the late 70's, early 80s. I bought all I could lay my hands on at that time. They were widely available.

Image
Columbia Special Products P 14148 [electronic] Stereo

Image
Columbia Special Products P 14143 [electronic] Stereo

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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by John F » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:26 pm

I remember those reissues. In a way, offering Reiner and the Pittsburgh Symphony at cut price might have been thought in Columbia's back rooms as a way to devalue them in the market, now that they were making new recordings for rival labels. But that's unknowable.
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Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

Post by jserraglio » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:12 pm

    IIRC, Reiner was long gone by the time those CSP issues came out — his former CSO players were still being spooked by him, but probably not Columbia.

    I bought Reiner on CSP because I already had his famous RCA Living Stereos and was curious, being too young to remember he had ever conducted the Pittsburgh. I was bowled over by the PSO performances even in fake stereo so I bought all I could find. Dennis Rooney's recent YT video about the superiority of the original lacquers rekindled my interest.

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    Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

    Post by Lance » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:25 pm

    I acquired many of those CSP LPs as soon as they came out. They were generally available for around $2/USA - and enjoyed them enormously ... still have them, in fact. The fake stereo didn't bother me at all. I'm curious about the article you mention by Dennis Rooney. Can you point me to a link on this? You've been very helpful!
    jserraglio wrote:
    Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:12 pm
      IIRC, Reiner was long gone by the time those CSP issues came out — his former CSO players were still being spooked by him, but probably not Columbia.

      I bought Reiner on CSP because I already had his famous RCA Living Stereos and was curious, being too young to remember he had ever conducted the Pittsburgh. I was bowled over by the PSO performances even in fake stereo so I bought all I could find. Dennis Rooney's recent YT video about the superiority of the original lacquers rekindled my interest.
      Lance G. Hill
      Editor-in-Chief
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      When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
      rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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      Lance
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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by Lance » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:29 pm

      Interesting that Mark Obert-Thorn picked up on the uncompletedness (a word?) in the Serkin set as early as April 2017 regarding Lashanska, Feuermann and Elman, but by now, of course, he probably has the Serkin set as well and has noticed the Lashanska 1939 items were, indeed, included in the big box. I also have the Biddulph CD of the Lashanska items which were, after the Club 99 LP issue, the first ones to ever place those items onto compact disc.
      jserraglio wrote:
      Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:04 am
      Some good info on the Serkin box here, with contributions by Lance and Mark Obert-Thorn.
      https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!top ... EVqB4lExMw
      Nothing there, though, about the identity of the 15 first authorized releases.

      ------------------------------

      I like all of the Reiner/Pittsburgh recordings I have been able to hear, even the electronic stereo reissues on Columbia Special Products LPs. IIRC, the DSCH 6 c/w Kodaly/Bartok/Kabalevsky/Weiner/Glinka and the LvB 2 c/w the WAM 35/40 were reissued on CD by Sony Masterworks Heritage. Those sound great.

      Lance G. Hill
      Editor-in-Chief
      ______________________________________________________

      When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
      rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

      Image

      jserraglio
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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by jserraglio » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:21 am

      Lance wrote:
      Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:25 pm
      I'm curious about the article you mention by Dennis Rooney. Can you point me to a link on this? You've been very helpful!
      It's not an article but a YouTube video recording of a 2015 talk, The Columbia Recordings of Fritz Reiner and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, 1940-1947, given at the NY chapter of the ARSC and you can find it posted right in the message you just quoted. Even with YT's limited sound, the 16" lacquers Dennis Rooney plays sound terrific. Rooney produced the wonderful Sony Masterworks Heritage CD series in the 1990s.

      There is also an ARSC talk by Seth Winner on audio restoration and another one on the PSONY archives. All three are fascinating if you are interested in old recordings.

      Regarding the fake stereo on the CSP reissues, you are right,it wasn't overdone. I just swiched my amp to mono. I bought all those 1970s(?)-era CSP issues I could find, not just those with Reiner and discovered some artists I had never heard of like the New Music Quartet.

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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by John F » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:15 am

      From the contents listing, this set includes many CDs that are nowhere near full - a waste of collectors' shelf space.
      John Francis

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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by maestrob » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:41 am

      John F wrote:
      Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:15 am
      From the contents listing, this set includes many CDs that are nowhere near full - a waste of collectors' shelf space.
      That could be said of all the "original jacket" collections, since most of those recordings were produced in LP days, where the average music content was 45 minutes! I'm not griping, I'm just glad to have them in my collection. 8)

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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by jserraglio » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:18 pm

      45 min: the approximate length of the 1st half of a concert recital before intermission — I think it's a reasonable CD length.

      Presto Classical is offering this set for $2.45/disc delivered.

      As for shelf space, in my case this box will take up far less space than all the LPs and CDs it will replace. And a hardcover book will be thrown in to boot. Not that space is that big an issue: I live the life of the salmon rather than the sardine.

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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by Lance » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:06 pm

      Well, you make a point, John F., however, toreplicate the original jackets--which I am in favour of for sentimental reasons--if you took all the 75 LPs times list prices on LPs once CDs came on the scene, this is still very much a bargain for the whole set, remastering, the booklet and all the details presented, no more pops and clicks from the LPs, plus add in how much space all the LPs took versus the new CD box size, and I think everyone is way ahead. Size, of course, is important to people who have ever-growing collections. Add to this the non-payment of royalties to deceased artists, cover art that simply copies the original LPs against the cost of artists preparing new covers, notes, etc., and I will never be one to complain. So far, given these mega-sets on so many illustrious artists of our past, I shan't complain.
      John F wrote:
      Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:15 am
      From the contents listing, this set includes many CDs that are nowhere near full - a waste of collectors' shelf space.
      Lance G. Hill
      Editor-in-Chief
      ______________________________________________________

      When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
      rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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      Re: The gigantic SERKIN box is here!

      Post by Lance » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:23 pm

      Just noticed, over 800 hits on this post. 21 responses. I'm sure Rudolf Serkin has his admirers and followers. This is a fabulous box to have. His life's work for Columbia ... quite a presentation. Any takers for it yet?
      Lance G. Hill
      Editor-in-Chief
      ______________________________________________________

      When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
      rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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