Since other reviews in this column pay hommage to this release and maestro Casals, I will focus mine on those aspects that, in my opinion, take one star out of the rating, without omitting, of course, the magnificent production values that this Original Jacket collections have had in every single release. No wonder that by the price some of them are selling, they've become true collector's items.
I pressume that Casals tenure with Columbia started after WWII when he was in self-exile from franquist Spain just across the border of his beloved Catalonia, in the small town of Prades (eastern Pyrénées).
Having explored his EMI recordings, it is worth admitting that Casals was passing his prime rapidly from 1950 onward, and witnessed in some recordings heard here. The Concerto at the White House, in front of the Kennedys, is more a memento than a true artistic utterance (although the El cant des ocells, warts and all, comes emotionally from the deepest place of the cellist gut).
The other point you should take into account is the tendency of the maestro for groaning. No, this is not Glenn Gould singing along; these are guttural noises with no explainable reason. OK, they don't happen enough to dimish the overall apreciation, but it becomes then a matter of tolerance. If you are a perfectionist that likes its music pristine, forget it.
Those caveats aside, I do not regret acquiring this set. The sound is pretty good, even for the 1950s (in fact, the less adequate sound comes from the White House's '61 live recital). I also have to mention my surpirse with Schumann's Cello Concerto performance. It has a life that I have not found in any other renderings. Grunts and all, a winner in my book.
in summary, if you love the cello, or admire the musicianship of Pau Casals and want to invest in a true collector's item, go for it. At the current prices, it's a winner.