Some New and Forthcoming Classical Box Sets

It looks like it’s going to be another bumper year for low-priced classical box sets.

If you’re a classical music fan, you may like picking up these sets, because they fill in your collection, or they let you get a lot of music by a favorite performer or composer. Here’s a list of some of the box sets that I’ve spotted recently, and some that are on my wish list.

(Note: some of these sets are not available, or not yet available, in all countries. I provide links to Amazon.com and Amazon UK, but not all of these sets are currently available or announced in both countries. The links that don’t work yet for forthcoming releases will eventually work. It’s actually interesting to see how many of these sets are released first in the EU and Europe, before reaching the US.)

DG is releasing the second of two volumes of its Leonard Bernstein edition in the fall. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) With 80 CDs, this complements volume one which was released early this year. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) It also complements an early 60-CD set of symphonies that Sony released, featuring Bernstein’s Columbia recordings. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) Bernstein was one of the great conductors, and, if you like his interpretations, all three of these sets are worth owning. There’s a lot of duplication, but, to take one example, his Mahler symphony cycles – the older Sony one and the later DG cycle – are both excellent, and worth hearing.

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The Seon Collection features 85 CDs of early music on the long-defunct Seon label, which was later bought by Sony. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This contains music by artists such as Bob van Asperen, Anner Bylsma, Frans Brüggen, Jaap Schröder, James Bowman, Rene Jacobs, Max van Egmond, Lutz Kirchhof, Eugen Dombois, Sigiswald Kuijken, Barthold Kuijken, Wieland Kuijken and others.

61Y+zuKhS5L._SY450_.jpgArchiv has released a 26-CD set of Bach cantatas conducted by Karl Richter. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) Among the many interpreters of Bach cantatas, Richter is far from the top of my list, but his recordings represent a style of Bach performance that was important in its time. These 75 cantatas feature singers such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Edith Maths, Peter Schreier, Ernst Haeflinger, Kurt Moll and others.

Deutsche Harmonie Mundi has released a Hildegard von Bingen Edition in September. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) On 9 CDs, this contains – I think – all of Sequentia’s recordings of this amazing medieval music. The project was begun in 1982, and the final CD released in 2013. I have an older 8-disc edition, and this music is mesmerizing, and Sequentia’s performances are impeccable.

815JnQqASPL._SL1500_.jpgSony is releasing a 67-disc set of Pierre Boulez’ recordings for the label in the fall. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) These recordings are Boulez as conductor, and feature works by Berg, Debussy, Mahler, Bartok, Berlioz, Handel, Stravinsky and others.

DG recently released a 20-disc box set of Maria Joao Pires’ solo recordings. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I’m not very familiar with her work, but one of the first CDs I ever bought was her performance of Schubert’s last piano sonata, on a different label. There are six discs of Schubert here, five of Mozart’s piano sonatas, five Chopin, and some others.

710phmLfTDL._SL1500_.jpgSpeaking of Schubert, Decca has just re-released András Schiff’s 12-disc set of Schubert recordings. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I have an older version of these, and this is an excellent set. For some reason, they’ve also released an 8-disc set of his Schubert piano sonatas recordings (Amazon.com, Amazon UK), which is more expensive than the 12-disc set, and which only contains sonatas, and not the Impromptus, Moments Musicaux and other works.

How about some more Schubert? Jan Vermeulen has recorded a great deal of Schubert on fortepiano, and I have the first few releases in this series on Etcetera. I bought them back when I was an eMusic member, but never followed up to see if there would be more. Etcetera has recently released a 12-CD set of these recordings. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This is on my list to buy soon; his performances are excellent.

So there’s plenty of great music to be had at great prices. And this is only the summer. We can look forward to lots more as the Christmas season approaches. Maybe there will be that big, complete Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau set that I’ve been hoping for…