From rhapsodies to Rossini’s best
This month’s round-up features a stage star and a prince of the piano
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