ROYAL CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA OF AMSTERDAM
Here is something very special indeed. Over the years, multiple-disk
sets have been issued in the Anthology of the
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra series. All of the original issues
have been reviewed on this site in detail
(see below for lnks to each).:For complete information on repertory,
dates, conductors and
review: This huge new
set is divided into two large boxes each containing half of the disks
,and there is a hefty booklet in each. .
The second box, RCA 125 Photos, includes the remainder of the disks and a book with 160 photographs of concerts, conductors and soloists. I found it difficult to use with ease. Each photo is numbered but not identified—to obtain that information you must go to the index at the back where such inofrmation is provided. Very inconvenient, as there easily could have been enough space on each photo page for this vital information.
Here is a brief outline of each volume in the Anthology series and other complations devoted to conductors::
VOLUME I (1935-1958) featuring conductors Mengelberg, Beinum, Szell, Monteux, Walter, Klemperer, Schuricht, Paray, Kubelik and Van Kempen REVIEW).
VOLUME II (1950-1960) featuring Kubelik, Monteux, Stokowski, Klemperer, Szell,. and Mitropous REVIEW).
VOLUME III (1960-1970) featuring conductors Mitropoulos, Monteux, Haitink, Szell, Jochum, C. Davis, Rosbaud, Ormady and Boulez REVIEW)
VOLUME IV (1970-1980) featuring Ormandy, Kondrashin, Ancerl, Krips, Van Otterloo, Fournet and Harnoncourt REVIEW)
VOLUME V (1980-1990) featuring Giulini, Jochum, Kondrashin, Edo de Waart, Vonk, Dorati and BernsteinREVIEW)
VOLUME VI (1990-2000) featuring Tennstedt, Sawallisch, Berglund, Chailly, Haitink, Dutoit, Harnoncourt and Berio REVIEW)
VOLUME VII (2000-2010) featuring Elder
Maazel, Chailly, I. Fischer, Harnoncourt, Masur and Jansons (REVIEW)
In addition to the Anthology Series, there have been
special multi-disk sets devoted to major conductors of the RCOA, as follows:
EDUARD VAN BEINUM - The Radio Recordings (11 CDs _+ DVD) REVIEW)
BERNARD HAITINK - Live - the Radio Broadcasts (14 CDs) This was issued one Q Disk (Cultur En Media Hilversum) to commemorate the conductor's 70th birthday REVIEW)
RICCARDO CHAILLY - Live Radio Broadcasts (13
CDs + DVD) (REVIEW)
The disks in each box are in single cardboard jackets, each of which contains complete information on contents. Each volume and conductor has a distinctive color for ease in sorting; when this massive set was first announced, I assumed incorrectly that it would contain each of the previous boxed sets as originally issued. However, packagng is different. All of the recordings are here, but without separte boxes for each edition. It is odd that producers did not include the DVDs that were included in two of the sets mentioned above. The Van Beinum set also included a DVD of a telecast of Beethoven's Eroica, the Chailly set had a DVD of Stravinsky (Firebird Suite, Pulcinella, Le sacre du printemps) Why weren't these included? Another major omission is the series of the Kerstmatinees Mahler symphony performances with Bernard Haitink on the podium—Symphonies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9, in magnificent recordings beautifully photographed. For detailed information, check our REVIEW. Considering the importance of Mahler in the Concertgebouw Orchestra's history and the fact that Haitink was and continues to be a major interpreter of his music, this to be a major omission.
It should be clarified that this set is focused on historic recordings of the great Dutch orchestra, but only up to 2010. Admirers of the RCOA are aware of the superb series of live concert recordings issued in the RCOA Live series, which I treasure. As of this writing, there are more than three dozen disks in this series, all of which have been reviewed on this site. This series includes Mariss Jansons recordings of: Bruckner Symphony 4, Mahler Symphony 2, Dvorák 9, Shostakovich Symphony 7, Stravinsky Firebird Suite and Sacre, and Strauss Don Juan and Alpine Symphony. It seems odd producers of this new set elected to duplicate these performances already available when they have so much to choose from.
This is a pricey set until you consider what you get - the list price hovers round $1,000, but it does contain 152 disks, much less cost per CD than previous issues of the Anthology series. This is a limited edition: there will only 1,000 copies. One might expect that for a limited edition each set would be numbered, but that is not the case.
Surely this is an impressive, and important set about the legacy of one of the world's greatest orchestras and its conductors—a handsome addition to any collection.
R.E.B. (February 20114)