From rhap­sodies to Rossini’s best

This month’s round-up fea­tures a stage star and a prince of the pi­ano

BBC Music Magazine - - Brief Notes -

More book than boxset, A Rhap­sody in Blue

– The Ex­tra­or­di­nary Life of Os­car Le­vant (Sony Clas­si­cal 88985471862) of­fers colour­ful in­sights into the life and mu­sic of the Amer­i­can pi­anist, com­poser, ac­tor and 1940s wit. The eight discs, tucked into the inside cover pages of a 124-page book (it­self the size of an LP and fea­tur­ing es­says, pho­tos and fac­sim­i­les), take in all of Le­vant’s pi­ano record­ings for Columbia Records. Orig­i­nally com­mit­ted to wax from 194258, it’s a col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal al­bums (in­clud­ing a wealth of Gersh­win) and un­re­leased rar­i­ties.

An­other eight-disc set, Glazunov – Com­plete

Sym­phonies and Con­cer­tos (Warner Classics 9029565143) gath­ers to­gether all of José Sere­brier’s record­ings of the Rus­sian mas­ter’s works made with the Royal Scot­tish and Rus­sian Na­tional Or­ches­tras. Sere­brier is ebul­lient in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing book­let, cit­ing the un­ex­pected joys of ex­plor­ing the reper­toire; ‘As we delved deeply into the scores, we dis­cov­ered a mostly un­tapped wealth of won­der­ful late-ro­man­tic mu­sic that has been largely ne­glected.’

It is Beethoven to whom the Berlin Phil looks in its lat­est re­lease, a svelte 5-disc box com­pris­ing Sym­phonies 1-9 (Berlin Phil BPHR 160093). For­merly re­leased as part of a much larger set, fea­tur­ing DVDS and more, this box con­tains record­ings of the sym­phonies based on Jonathan Del Mar’s edited scores, pub­lished be­tween 1996 and 2000.

The book­let is in­ter­est­ing with both tra­di­tional notes and an in­for­ma­tive es­say by Del Mar about his work on the project, not to men­tion a com­pre­hen­sive break­down of the corrections he made to the scores.

Ce­cilia Bar­toli – Rossini (Decca 483 3936) is a lav­ish cel­e­bra­tion of both the great com­poser and one of the la­bel’s big­gest stars. The box it­self – in strik­ing white and gold – is a trea­sure ch­est of 15 CDS and five DVDS. Along with the likes of Othello and The Bar­ber of Seville, the set in­cludes discs of arias, the Sta­bat Mater, plus‘highlights and Rar­i­ties’. There’s also The South­bank Show’s A Por­trait of Ce­cilia Bar­toli on DVD and a weighty hard­back book (in four lan­guages) fea­tur­ing in-depth notes and archive pho­tos.

This is a cel­e­bra­tory trea­sure ch­est in strik­ing white and gold

Pi­ano poly­math: pi­anist/ac­tor Os­car Le­vant with Gene Kelly in An Amer­i­can in Paris

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