- Audio CD (April 22 2016)
- Number of Discs: 43
- Format: Box set, Audiobook
- Label: Sony Music
- ASIN: B0184JZ62K
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,101 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Great Moments at Carnegie Hall Box set, Audiobook
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Ever since its opening night in May 1891, when Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – arguably the most famous living composer – made his US debut conducting his own works, Carnegie Hall has held sway as the undisputed shrine of classical music in America. It was and remains the essential venue for all great artists. Sony Classical is proud to present an extraordinary new 40-CD box set of treasures from the fabled hall’s archives. This recorded chronicle of eight decades spotlights many of the artists who enjoyed historically close ties to Carnegie Hall. It begins with two performances of Beethoven’s Fifth, from 1931 and 1933 by Arturo Toscanini and continues with a performance from 1934 in which Serge Koussevitzky conducts Roy Harris’s First Symphony, among the first works by an American-born composer to be recorded by a major orchestra. It was one of some 115 important compositions – by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Bartók and others – that Koussevitzky and the BSO gave their US premieres at Carnegie Hall. But it is really the soloists, especially the great pianists, who have played the principal role in establishing the hall’s unique reputation. A landmark in its history took place, and was recorded in 1943. Vladimir Horowitz joined his father-in-law Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky program to help raise money for the war effort. Their sensational performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1958, a 23-year-old Texan pianist named Van Cliburn astonished the world by beating out eight Soviet pianists to win the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. After he played the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto, conducted by the illustrious Kirill Kondrashin, the audience leapt to its feet and gave the pianist an eight-minute standing ovation. A few weeks later, Cliburn, again partnered by Kondrashin, recaptured the sensation he made in Russia with this Carnegie Hall performance of “Rach 3”. The first US tour by Sviatoslav Richter in 1960 culminated at Carnegie Hall in the towering all-Beethoven recital contained here. From 1961, Sony has included excerpts of two Chopin evenings given by another keyboard icon, Arthur Rubinstein, 55 years after his Western-hemisphere debut at this same hall. Another famous, if not infamous, evening occurred in 1962, when Glenn Gould’s “unorthodox” interpretation of the Brahms D minor Concerto was disavowed by conductor Leonard Bernstein before their performance with the New York Philharmonic. (Bernstein’s witty prefatory remarks to the audience are heard here along with the concerto). Another highlight in Carnegie history was Horowitz’s legendary return to the hall in 1965. Other great recitals in the new set include those given by Jorge Bolet in 1974, Rudolf Serkin’s from 1977, Lazar Berman’s from 1979, Evgeny Kissin’s US recital debut from 1990 and Arcadi Volodos’s Gramophone award-winning recital from 1998. There’s also a wonderful 1972 organ recital by the charismatic Virgil Fox – including his charming spoken introductions to each piece – as well as a major violin-piano recital, Midori’s Carnegie solo debut from 1990. Carnegie Hall has also been a mecca for famous singers ever since Adelina Patti, one of the most celebrated sopranos of the 19th century, made her debut there in 1893. The year 1955, in which Kirsten Flagstad and Beniamino Gigli both mounted their US farewells at Carnegie, also featured a return recital by the great Swedish tenor Jussi Björling. When he came out on stage for the recital, Björling was given a welcome described as being of “football stadium proportions”. Always a New York favorite, Björling’s Carnegie recital from 1958 is included here as well. Leontyne Price, who made her Carnegie debut with the Boston Symphony in 1954, singing music by her close associate Samuel Barber, gave her solo recital debut in 1965, included here. The beloved American soprano, who appeared more than 40 times.
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The recordings cover 80 years, starting with the very early 1930s and recordings by Koussevitsky, Toscanini, and more. There's a huge breadth of content here, representing a top-80 list of classical music performed by masters of their art. As much as the orchestral recordings are stunning, in most cases, it's the soloists that bring the most impact. You get the first recording of Sviatoslav Richter in the US (1960), Arthuir Rubenstine playing Chopin (1961), Glenn Gould Brahms Concerto (1962), and many, many more. There's "modern" artists, too: the debut of Midori, Lazar Berman, Evgeny Kissin, and lots of others. Think of a stellar soloist and they have played (and hence recorded) at Carnegie Hall and are likely represented in this box. There's an embarrassment of riches here, And my own favorite: Virgil Fox doing his schtick with the audience, and playing organ like the virtuoso he is.
The recordings are mostly excellent, although age does play a factor with many of the early years' recordings. Still, this box works on both a performance level and the historical artifact level, Most of the recordings are surprisingly good, and the Carnegie Hall ambiance and echo is captured perfectly. This is a wonderful box, and one every collector will want.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The 43 CDs are live. For example, Walter's version of the Bruckner 7th tempi are faster then the CD we know him by. Bjorling''s recital contains, Schubert and Strauss leider, plus opera arias accompanied by a piano. Worth the price of the box set alone. A newly found live Richter recording playing Beethoven sonatas. Verrett mezzo singing Schubert lieder. Price in her early years singing Italian arias and American traditional songs. Horowitz live, then Jorge Bolet Chopin's24 preludes are out of this world. In the concert of the century Fischer-Dieskau sings Schumann's Dichterliebe accompanied by Horowitz, how about that. Horne's 60th birthday tribute finishes with Ramey's Ol man river. The audience brought the roof down. And Denis Matsuev becomes Lizst in his Piano Sonata in B Minor.
This is a Marvellous box set and should be owned by all lovers of music, for this art form should be heard live. I cannot praise this American set too much.
I won't even go into the choices of repertoire, the frustrating duplications, omissions, and dearth of twentieth-century music--even the list of significant world premieres at Carnegie Hall is completely overlooked.
Sorry if this review sounds churlish, but churlish is exactly what I felt because the choices seem so random and because I already owned so many of the recordings. If you don't have a lot of these, you might find this box a convenient investment. Myself, I'd prefer if Carnegie/Sony release individual events so that we collectors can choose for ourselves and pay accordingly.
I don't know what goes into getting the rights to release recordings of these live events, but I would implore Carnegie Hall, first, to please continue releasing whatever they can; second, if they want to continue with boxed sets, to think about putting them out with a series of more precise themes (Great Orchestral Concerts; Great Singers; Great Choral Works; Great Premieres); and third, to be more adventurous in their choices.