GEORGE SZELL - THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA RECORDINGS
SONY 547185 (106 disks) BUY NOW FROM AMAZON

.Here is yet another multi-disk set for collectors! George Szell became Music Director off the Cleveland Orchestra in 1946 and remained with them until his death in 1970. He recorded profusely for many labels, in particular Columbia, and this set contains most of his recordings for the label, all remastered and sounding better than ever. Szell was a master of the baton, apparently not the easiest to get along with, but he was a consummate musician, as a pianist as well as a conductor. We hear him as both in this new set. Early recordings are well-balanced mono; later ones are in stereo. We have many famous recordings including piano concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Grieg,, Schumann, Franck's Symphonic Variations, and Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody all with with Leon Fleisher. Other pianist include Robert Casadesus (11 Mozart concerto, Liszt Concerto No. 2, Weber Konzertstücke), , Gary Graffman (Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1, Prokofiev Concertos 1 and 3), , Rudolf Serkin (Brahms concertos, Bartok Concerto No. 1, Prokofiev Concerto No. 4), Rudolf Firkusny (Dvorak concerto), and John Browning's famous recording of Barber's Concerto. Also included is the fantastic live 1953 performance of Tchaikoveky Concerto No. 1 with Vladimir Horowitz and the New York Philharmonic. Featured violinists are Zino Francescatti (Bach / Mendelssohn) and Isaac Stern (Bach and Tartini) We have all of the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann are here along with major works of Richard Strauss, Wagner, and music of Kodaly, Prokofiev, Walton and Hindemith. Two performances of Dvorák's New World are here, the 1952 mono version as well as he 1958 stereo, and there are other performances in their first mono and later stereo versions. Important are Szell's recordings of Wagner and Beethoven. with the New York Philharmonic.

There is a handsome large package with a 146-page booklet with much information beautifully illustrated. . Each record has its own jacket with original cover art. Many of the works are very short; resulting in minimal playing time. Had producers doubled-up, this set would have taken far fewer than 106 disks, and the price could have been lower.The set does not contain all of Szell's Columbia rewordings; he made many recordings for other labels. Of particular importance are those with the Royal Concertgebouw (Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Schubert music for Rosamunde, MendelssohnMidsummer Night's Dream and Sibelius Symphony No. 2). And there are countless other Szell recordings on many labels. Accept this set for what it is, as it restores to the catalog so many legendary recordings.

 

R.E.B. (October 2018)