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Bernstein Sym Edition Box set


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 30 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 60
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Music Canada Inc.
  • ASIN: B003Z9Q4WG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,516 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Fowler (the Obsessive Compulsive Reviewer) on May 9 2014
Format: Audio CD
This collection includes one recording of every "Symphony" that Leonard Bernstein recorded for Columbia Records between 1953 and 1976.

Two Bernstein recordings are omitted that arguably should have been included:
1) Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" which is a symphony/song cycle, a form that Mahler invented: Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde, also available on DVD: Mahler - The Symphonies / Das Lied von der Erde
2) Ives' "Holidays Symphony" - Unanswered Question / Holidays
After all, Ives' called it a "Symphony" so it should be here, even though its really a collection of four symphonic poems.

Two of Bernstein's musical analyses are included:
1) "Berlioz Takes a Trip" Bernstein's discussion of the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique.
2) "Leonard Bernstein Discusses Charles Ives" In addition to the 2nd Symphony, Bernstein also talks about "Fourth of July" so the omission of Ives' "Holidays" Symphony from the set seems even more inexplicable.

Bernstein's musical analyses of Beethoven are omitted:
1) The Symphony 3 analysis is available on the "Bernstein Century" edition of Beethoven's 3rd:
...Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. F. Whitlock on Oct. 5 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This set comprises all the recordings Bernstein made for Columbia (now Sony) back in the day which had the word "symphony" in the title. Complete sets of symphonies by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius, and some others are included.

My conclusion: Bernstein was another of the one-size-fits-all school of conducting. He had a vigorous, if not downright athletic, approach that was applied, willy-nilly, to everything he conducted, whether the style fit the music or not. And he was clearly a romantic. This approach, athletic romanticism, works extremely well in some music (Tchaikovsky, Sibelius), but in other music (e.g. Mozart) it misses the point of the music. But at least he's not boring, unlike Ormandy, who seems to be totally disengaged in the music, interested only in making a beautiful noise with his silk underwear orchestra.

Listening to this set one CD after another, it's too much. Plan on taking your time, perhaps one disc every day or two.

The great virtue of this set is that it's very cheap! If you worship Bernstein, by all means buy it. But if your interest in Bernstein's conducting is only with respect to a few selected composers, look into alternative issues of the same recording.

One last thing: the packaging is ridiculous, a huge box with four compartments each containing 15 CDs, plus an oversize booklet. The individual CDs are in flexible plastic sleeves.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of the top box set on the market today. This is the achievement of a musical hero of our time. The immense Leonard Bernstein in all is greatest interpretations of the past and modern composers. Is Sibelius, Shostakovich. Nielsen, William Shumann are total references. Is Mahler are the most involved and convincing you could ear, also a reference. The sound remastering is incredible, bravo to Sony!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 33 reviews
145 of 152 people found the following review helpful
Classical Orchestral Gems-Long, long, overdue! Nov. 22 2010
By John Van Note - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
At long, long last, SONY-CBS has released its LEONARD BERNSTEIN SYMPHONY EDITION, following at least a good month and a half postponement from its originally scheduled date!

The release of this CBS-Sony box set to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the maestro's passing in 1990 promises to be a generous feast of sixty compact discs. What immediately comes to my mind here as a haunting reminder is the thirty eight DG Herbert von Karajan SYMPHONIES EDITION, released to commemorate the centennial anniversary of that conductor's birth year 2008, in 2009. That set included complete symphony cycles of Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky, together with Haydn's six "Paris" and twelve "London" Symphonies, together with Mozart's 32, "Haffner," "Linz," "Prague," the great Nos. 39, 40, and "Jupiter." All of these DG recordings do not quite approach the width and depth of Bernstein in their box. DG released a complete HvK Edition of some 200 discs in Japan, of all places. I cannot imagine why they did not make a wider, more global circulation. Also, to mark that event, there were two EMI mega boxes released to commemorate HvK on 160 discs: an orchestral box and an operas box.

Many of the recordings included in this comprehensive Lenny box are recordings upon which I can be said to have "cut my classical music teeth" back in the late 60s-early 1970s with their original LP record incarnations. Back then, I devoured the Mahler, Franck, Nielsen, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, and the Schumann. Particularly memorable were the Haydn "Paris" Symphonies, which even until and through this day, despite all manner of digital sound reproduction technique, I would stand Lenny's renditions of them, all of them, up against anyone else`s here. I look forward to reacquainting myself with the re mastered Shostakovich SEVENTH.

In this box set, among the more than one hundred symphonies offered and packaged here are complete cycles of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Schumann, Haydn's "Paris" and Londons," as well as the very beloved cutting edge Mahler.

Unlike previously earlier abortive Sony-CBS attempts to capitalize on the Leonard Bernstein stamp with the "Prince of Wales" sponsorship and "Bernstein Century" recordings, recordings which were served up in single releases at close to full price to induce if not force and compel Bernstein fans to buy into him once again, I hope this edition is the promise of more comprehensive work to come, like vocal music. I look forward with eager anticipation to a prospective companion choral works box set with such gems as Lenny's rendition of Bach's ST. MATTHEW PASSION as well as his unique rendition of MESSIAH. We can only hope....

The below is the complete list of recordings from the box:

Beethoven: Symphonies 1-9 (Complete)

Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique

Bernstein: Symphonies 1-3 (Complete)

Bizet: Symphony in C

Blitzstein: The Airborne Symphony

Brahms: Symphonies 1-4 (Complete)

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

Copland: Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, 3

Dvorak: Symphonies 7, 8, and 9

Franck: Symphony in D Minor

Goldmark: Rustic Wedding Symphony

Harris: Symphony No.3

Haydn: Symphonies 82-88; 93-104

Hindemith: Symphony in E-Flat

Ives: Symphonies 2 and 3

Liszt: Faust Symphony

Mahler: Symphonies 1-9 (Complete)

Mendelssohn: Symphonies 3, 4, and 5

Mozart: Symphonies 35, 36, 39, 40, and 41

Nielsen: Symphonies 2, 3, 4, and 5

Prokofiev: Symphonies 1 and 5

St. Saens: Symphony No. 3

Schubert: Symphonies 5, 8, and 9

Schumann: Symphonies 1-4 (Complete)

Schuman: Symphonies 3, 5, and 8

Shapero: Symphony for Classical Orchestra

Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms

Shostakovich: Symphonies 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 14

Sibelius: Symphonies 1-7 (Complete)

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1-6 (Complete)

Thompson: Symphony No. 2

Vaughan-Williams: Symphony No. 4
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
A Marvelous Bernstein Edition from Sony Classical Nov. 22 2010
By Liu Jianying - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A simply awesome Leonard Bernstein collection!

This is an exclusively pure symphony music edition and I bought it recently from amazon.de who is the pioneer among all the amazons to release it. My audition is almost completed and the experience has been very pleasant so far; and as you know, it'll take some time to go through all 60 discs in this magic box.

Along with the CDs, there is also a beautiful photo album, which presents not only many working pictures but also some pleasant life moments of this master.

You can find satisfactorily complete symphony cycles from such giants as Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Schumann, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Bernstein himself, together with symphonies from other great composers.

The taping spans late fifties through early seventies in last century, an era of analogue recording prosperity. Undoubtedly, Bernstein was at the peak of his career and Sony/CBS also in its golden days when these recording sessions were taken. The performances, mostly played by New York Philharmonic, are excellent; the sounds are equally marvelous: warm, spacious, atmospheric and dynamic, well done in both original recordings and CD transfers.

Only the two cycles of complete symphonies by Beethoven and Mahler are absolutely worth the price, to say nothing of those awesome renditions on Berlioz, Copland, Dvorak, Haydn, Ives, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schubert, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and many more. I would like to single out the 1963 rendition of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Bernstein presents this widely known masterpiece in a so unique but charming way that you have an illusion of hearing it for the first time ever. This is a simply persuasive performance.

It's really a steal at this price level on amazons.
105 of 115 people found the following review helpful
Unusual packaging described; questions about mastering Dec 1 2010
By David Alt. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a fantastic value and worth more than the price asked, but the packaging is so unusual that buyers should know about it before purchase:
This will NOT fit into your CD shelves, it looks designed for coffee table display and the awkwardness may leave it as seldom used as most coffee table books.
The huge box is about 12" x 12". Lift the lid to find 4 stacks of 15 CDs in thicker-than-usual cardboard sleeves. All but a handful of the symphonies are in near-alphabetical order so by looking at the top 4 CDs you can usually know which stack to sort through to find the symphony you want (assuming you went to private school and know your alphabet). If you actually use this box as often as Bernstein's talent deserves you will have to apply constant effort to avoid CD anarchy.
Since the cardboard sleeves, surprisingly, have each CD's works printed in minuscule type on the side, you have the imperfect option of taking all the CDs out and distributing them on your shelves among your jewel cases composer-by-composer, leaving the empty box on your coffee table.

Included is a large 4-language book with excellent photos and essays, but recording data, track listings and timings are only printed on each CD sleeve in small print on hard-to-read white print on black background which discriminates against eyes older than 45 years and should be prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The paper used for the book and sleeves is non-glossy so it will absorb and show oil from hands and will not look new after some use.

I rather wish Sony had spent less money on magnificent-but-clumsy packaging and used the money for re-mastering or even just to maximize their profit, which might have encouraged them to come out with similar collections of Arturo Toscanini, George Szell, Bruno Walter, or even Eugene Ordinary.

I do not have the ear or the equipment to know if the latest re-masterings were used. Sony just did a 24-bit mastering on the Beethoven cycle; perhaps another amazon reviewer can inform us if that was used here. The finales of Mahler's Symphonies #2 and #8 are on only one track, which is how they were presented on the newest re-mastering some 2 years back, so the Mahler CDs are probably up to date.

Miscellaneous details: The Berlioz CD includes Bernstein's discussion, (along with the Ives talk on Ives #2 and 3, the only non-Symphony tracks in this set), along with the 1963 recording (a shame - the 1968 recording promised on the Royal Edition release was in fact this same performance). Similarly, the 1964 Beethoven #7 is included here rather than the late 50's performance that most of us do not have. The Mahler #2 is the '60's New York Phil. The Tchaikovsky #4 is the 1975 remake rather than the late '50's that many consider superior, and is the only work here needlessly split onto 2 CDs.

Other reviews have details of the contents. And every Bernstein aficionado already knows that the sound quality is OK-to-excellent, that the performances are good-to-great, and that it's too bad Lenny did not stay with Decca's superior recording engineers rather than switching to Columbia/Sony.

This review is not typical, but I hope it is useful. All things considered, it is a fitting tribute to Bernstein from re-issue producers who clearly meant well, it is an economical way to acquire many superb performances, and it deserves to sell very well.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
JUST THE FACTS Jan. 18 2011
By John Fowler (the Obsessive Compulsive Reviewer) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This collection includes one recording of every "Symphony" that Leonard Bernstein recorded for Columbia Records between 1953 and 1976.

Two Bernstein recordings are omitted that arguably should have been included:
1) Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" which is a symphony/song cycle, a form that Mahler invented: Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde, also available on DVD: Mahler - The Symphonies / Das Lied von der Erde
2) Ives' "Holidays Symphony" - Unanswered Question / Holidays
After all, Ives' called it a "Symphony" so it should be here, even though its really a collection of four symphonic poems.

Two of Bernstein's musical analyses are included:
1) "Berlioz Takes a Trip" Bernstein's discussion of the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique.
2) "Leonard Bernstein Discusses Charles Ives" In addition to the 2nd Symphony, Bernstein also talks about "Fourth of July" so the omission of Ives' "Holidays" Symphony from the set seems even more inexplicable.

Bernstein's musical analyses of Beethoven are omitted:
1) The Symphony 3 analysis is available on the "Bernstein Century" edition of Beethoven's 3rd: Beethoven: Symphony No. 3- Eroica / How a Great Symphony was Written lecture (Bernstein Century)
2) The Symphony 5 analysis is available on the "Sony Classics Great Performances" edition of Beethoven's 5th: Beethoven: Symphony No. 5; Leonard Bernstein Talks About Beethoven's First Movement Of The Fifth Symphony [Great Performances]
The original TV show this is excerpted from is available in its entirety on a 4 DVD set of Bernstein's "Omnibus" TV series: Leonard Bernstein: Omnibus - The Historic TV Broadcasts Highly recommended.

All fillers are omitted. No Beethoven overtures or Tchaikovsky symphonic poems. As a result, total timings per disc are sometimes rather short.

During the period covered by this set, Bernstein recorded four of these symphonies twice:

1) Beethoven's 7th Symphony was recorded in 1958 and 1964. The 1964 version was chosen for this set.
For the curious, this is the 1958 version: Symphony 1 & 7

2) Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony was recorded in 1958 and 1975. The 1975 recording was chosen for this set.
For the curious, this is the 1958 version: Bernstein Century - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 / Capriccio Italien

3) Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique was recorded in 1963 and 1968.
Inexplicably, the 1963 version was chosen for The Bernstein Symphony Edition.
The 1963 version was previously issued in both the Royal Edition (erroneously labeled as 1968) and in the Bernstein Century Edition.
A nice performance, but Bernstein was clearly dissatisfied with it, as he redid it after only 5 years.

The preferable 1968 recording has been issued only once: Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique (CBS Great Performances)
The easiest way to tell them apart is by the timings of the third movement: 17:14 in 1963, 15:09 in 1968.
The musical examples used in "Berlioz Takes a Trip" are from 1968 - compare them with the 1963 performance on the rest of the disc.

4) Mahler's 2nd Symphony was recorded in 1963 with the New York Philharmonic (included here) and in 1973 with the London Symphony (now available on a DVD from Deutsche Gramophone: Mahler - The Symphonies / Das Lied von der Erde).
Bernstein also recorded isolated movements from Mahler's 5th and 8th Symphonies with the NYPO which were included in the Bernstein Century but are omitted here.

Bernstein re-recorded the majority of the symphonies in this set for Deutsche Gramophone in the post-1975 period when he was recording with European orchestras

The remasterings used are from the Bernstein Century edition with these exceptions:

1) If an individual work was not issued on the Bernstein Century edition, the remastering from the older Royal Edition was used. There is very little difference between these two remasterings (one exception: Dvorak's 9th Symphony has a lot more visceral impact in the Bernstein Century edition - used here).

2) The disc with Beethoven's 1st and 3rd Symphonies is from the Royal Edition.
The giveaway is that the second movement of the 1st symphony is 7:41 on the Royal Edition (used here), but only 5:52 on Bernstein Century.
The exposition repeat is observed in the Royal Edition. So far as I can tell, it is a product of the tape editor's skill, not the actual performance.
Which would explain why it was omitted from the later Bernstein Century edition.

3) Mahler's complete Symphonies (including the Adagio from the unfinished 10th) are NOT the Bernstein Century remasterings, rather they are the newer and much improved remasterings issued as a box in 2009 (The 8th Symphony is complete on one CD). Bravo! For more information, cut and paste this in the Amazon search bar:
ASIN: B005SJIP1E

One final personal word. I was a teenager in the 1960s with no classical music background. These were the performances I learned this music from.
My local library had a deal with Columbia Records.
I loved them then and I love them now.

I bought this 60 CD set from Amazon for $105. An incredible bargain.

Two complaints (they are the same as every one else):

1) No program notes about the music. No texts or translations for the vocal works. Aargh!
If they didn't want to spend money printing a booklet, they could have put this information on a CD-ROM (costs a few pennies). A serious handicap for newbies to classsical music.
It does come with an attractive booklet with photos of and essays about Bernstein, but the really important stuff is missing.

2) The 60 CDs are packaged in a 12 x 12 inch box. Very retro, but it doesn't fit on my shelf. If they had packed it in a 5x5 inch box like most of these monster sets, it would have been about six inches wide.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Bernstein at his best Nov. 23 2010
By Lawrence Blumenthal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After the famous fanfare, the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony begins with a dialogue scored for cello and basses. This NY Philharmonic recording is outstanding, as one can hear the bows biting into strings, that's how good the dynamics are in the Manhattan Center during this 1964 recording. The drive of the Fifth, the humor of the Eight, the magnificent Ninth, it's all there. The Bernstein Third with wife Felicia Montealegre as the Speaker, recorded in 1964, all four Brahms symphonies: my favorite movement is the finale of the Third, though the great horn solo in the finale of the First is a very close second. Bernstein's tempos are brisk, full of the energy of youth, reaching for that harmony just beyond reach. While the sound is not quite up to the digital standards of today, it is still very, very good. And there are a box full of symphonies to explore, understand and enjoy. You might even want to stand up and conduct a movement or two yourself: the Bruckner Ninth, Copland Third, Dvorak Seventh, Frank D Minor, Haydn Paris and London Symphonies, Ives Second, the Liszt Faust Symphony, the complete Mahler cycle, Mendelssohn, late Mozart, Franz Schubert, William Schuman, Robert Schumann, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Jean Sibelius, the complete Tchaikovsky cycle, it is a breathless collection. And a bonus - all the photographs on the CD jackets and the glorious large format booklet. If you're a Bernstein fan, this is a must have. ENJOY....

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