Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Boxed Set to Own

This 15 CD boxed set is one of the most recent issues in EMI's Icon series and is outstanding in every way.  I picked this up based on a review by Dave Hurwitz on Classicstoday.com and have not been disappointed.  For a mere $30-35 dollars (and maybe even less), you can have nearly all of the major orchestral recordings that Silvestri did for EMI in the 1950s-1960s.  Let me tell you how amazing of a deal this is.  These are the recordings you get:

Disc 1:
Glinka:  Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture
Borodin:  Prince Igor Overture
Borodin:  Prince Igor Polovtsian Dances
Borodin:  In the Steppes of Central Asia
Tchaikovsky:  Eugene Onegin, Op. 24 -- Polonaise
Tchaikovsky:  Capriccio Italien, Op. 45 
Tchaikovsky:  1812 Oveture, Op. 49

Disc 2:
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 (movements 1-2)

Disc 3:
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 (movements 3-4)
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6
Rimsky-Korsakov:  May Night Overture

Disc 4:
Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony
Rimsky-Korsakov:  Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34

Disc 5:
Mussorgsky:  A Night on the Bare Mountain
Rimsky-Korsakov:  Scheherazade, Op. 35
Stravinsky:  Le Chant du Rossignol

Disc 6:
Stravinsky:  A Symphony in 3 Movements
Bartok:  Divertimento for Strings
Hindemith:  Mathis der Mahler Symphony

Disc 7: 
Prokofiev:  The Love for Three Oranges
Khachaturian:  Gayaneh Suite No. 1
Shostakovich:  Symphony no. 5

Disc 8:
Dvorak:  Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World"
Dvorak:  Symphony No. 8 in G

Disc 9:
Dvorak:  Symphony No. 7 in D minor
Dvorak:  Carnival Overture
Dvorak:  Slavonic Dances 1-2
Brahms:  Hungarian Dances 5-6

Disc 10:
Berlioz:  Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14
De Falla:  Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo
De Falla:  Interlude & Danza No. 1 from La Vida Breve

Disc 11:
Franck:  Symphony in D minor
Saint-Saens:  Dance macabre
Dukas:  The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Ravel:  Pavane pour une infant defunte
Ravel:  Rapsodie espagnole

Disc 12:
Debussy:  Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
Debussy:  Nocturnes
Debussy:  La Mer
Ravel:  Bolero

Disc 13:
Weber:  Overture:  Der Freischutz
Mendelssohn:  Overture:  A Midsummer Night's Dream
Liszt:  Les Preludes
Liszt:  Tasso
Liszt:  Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4
Humperdinck:  Hansel und Gretel Overture

Disc 14:
Enescu:  Romanian Rhapsody No. 1
Sibelius:  Finlandia
Elgar:  In the South -- Concert Overture
Vaughan Williams:  Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Vaughan Williams:  The Wasps Overture

Disc 15:
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E minor (mono)
Saint-Saens:  Dance macabre (mono)
Dukas:  The Sorcerer's Apprentice (mono)

Many of these recordings were newly remastered for this issue and have not been released on CD before.  Sound quality is, in my humble opinion, quite excellent.

How can you beat this boxed set in terms of sheer interest and variety?  Not to mention that the performances are outstanding, full of vitality and excitement.  Silvestri conducts the Philharmonia, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, French National Radio Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, and Paris Conservatoire Orchestra.  Now that I've given you the contents of the boxed set, let me show you what you are getting in terms of the LPs:

ALP 1684 (Discs 12, 15)
$38 at Classical Vinyl
ALP 1689 (Disc 12)
$31 at Classical Vinyl  

ASD 261 (Disc 2, 3)
Mean price on popsike:  $78 

ASD 253 (Disc 2)
Mean price on popsike:  $79


ASD 338 (Discs 1, 13)
$362 on Ebay

ASD 273 (Disc 3)
$50-130 on Ebay



ASD 400 (Discs 4, 7)
$70-448 on Ebay

ASD 401 (Discs 5, 6)
$260-394 on Ebay

ASD 408 (Disc 11)
$50-270 on Ebay
ASD 417 (Discs 11, 13, 14)
$79-406 on Ebay


ASD 455 (Disc 7)
$66-403 on Ebay
ASD 470 (Discs 8, 9)
$105-374 on Ebay


ASD 519 (Discs 1, 9)
$48-338 on Ebay

ST 966 (Disc 9)
ST 543 (Disc 1)


You can see that you get some of the most valuable EMI white/gold ASD recordings with this CD boxed set.  Okay, perhaps you don't get that warm vinyl analog sound, but unless you find these LPs in a garage sale (the chances that you will find all of them in excellent condition at an affordable price are slim to none), this is the most economical way to be able to truly enjoy the fine recordings of this incredible conductor.



  1. I am drooling over those covers. I want the LPs, but just bought the CD. I don't buy CDs, but this is worth having so I may preview the performances.

  2. I'm glad you like the covers. I certainly don't own all of those, and I've taken the liberty to borrow some covers from the internet. They are very nice. Check out the CDs and based on our initial impression, go for some of the LPs. I only have the Tchaikovsky 5. The others I tried to find for good deals, but I gave up when the prices kept going above $250.

  3. SXLP 30065 is the Tchaik 5. 30075 Tchaik 6 (should sound really good). That's it. A lot of his work conducting various concertos is available as Concert Classics and Classics for Pleasure.

  4. Correction. SXLP 30078 is Tchaikovsky 6 with Silvestri. Also, Tchaikovsky 4 is on 30066. Also, the only LP release, SXLP 20036 Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique conducted by Constantin Silvestri.

    There may be more later SXLP that I might not have discovered in my searches.

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  6. Classics for Pleasure:
    LP DVORAK Symphony No 8 , Constantin Silvestri CFP40075

    1. Did you see that Hi-Q Supercuts is about to reissue the Kletzki Scheherazade album? They are also reissuing the Kempe "Nights in Vienna" album -- a valuable ASD. They all go for $34, which is a pretty good deal. The Kempe usually sells for $100-200.

    2. I'd get the original Kletzki cheap. It will certainly beat the reissue in many ways if not comprehensively. One of my email buddies pointed out the upcoming Hi-Q release when I was crowing about this LP (my profile shows email now). I've got a good number of Alto, Speakers Corner, and Testament reissues and I'd rather go with the originals or cheaper emi reissued LP's.

      Played my 99 cent VG+ Menuhin Water Music (ASD 577, 2nd ed.). It was background listening, but I may be avoiding further VG+ emi. I assume this to be near Gold and Cream sound and was not overwhelmed (but hardly paying attention too). I'll throw a bone in here that the reviled Brown&Gold Angel pressings (a later pressing) gave acceptable sound. Much more mid-range. They are worth getting as preview copies to see if one likes a performance (no more than a dollar at the thrift shop).

      My CD arrived (wishing my car had the cd changer working). I'll probably only consult the CD's when considering buying one of the LP's. I will have to see if friend has tape deck as that still works in car (and very, very well). This day and age it seems insane to take the time to tape, let alone burn a cd. When I have time I may research new head unit with media player that can do flac. It bugs me just to spend $300 let alone more for a head unit with this or CD.

  7. Thank you for the additions! These are useful references!

    1. Played a couple movements from the Berlioz Fantastique on a top notch system today. The CD sounded quite credible. It could not touch the analogue, but stood toe to toe with a Telarc surround sound CD. I heard quite a bit of high bit rate digital recordings and they definitely had an advantage over the conventional CD. I saw some vintage EMI recordings that could be downloaded. That would be interesting to hear.

  8. The overtures disc was a bit of a disappointment. I particularly did not care for the Midsummer's Night Dream Overture. The tempi were too fast losing the whimsical character of this music. I much prefer the music on my London CS6001 blue back and DVD of the Dream for that matter(PBS special with Pacific Symphony and intro by Pierce Brosnan.)

    1. Sorry to hear that the Overtures were a disappointment. You can't please 'em all, right? I don't recall that disc being my favorite in the set either.

  9. Big money for the SAX, so count me out (none sold in three years on ebay, estimate $600 on that one) and no reissues.

    On to something a little more attainable. Disc 10 which is not in your pretty pictures above! It only made it out as a lowly Concert Classic (SXLP 20036). This is 20000 series so its got a full tube sound and should be a nice LP. I find the performance on CD likable with a nice rolling thunder to the bass at the beginning of March to the Scaffold that should be outrageous on LP. I like the bells in the fifth movement. Decided to do some research on this piece and found a review on this blog site that is ga ga over Beecham:

    This recording seems a bit off the radar when looking at other review sites, but I found a reference in trusty spreadsheet to TAS 77/136. I dug up issue 77 and went to page 36 and their was commentary from the patron saint of Golden Age recordings, Sid Marks in Mark's Barks. He did not care for the Monteux shaded dog and recommended Beecham on ASD 399 above all else:
    "It may be 30 years old but its sound still competes with almost anything out there. Beecham conducts with an ardor that may surprise some--but not those who have heard his Franck, Bizet, or Saint-Saens."
    He also recommended the Concert Classic (SXLP 30295). I'd be mighty interested to hear the semi-circle pressing (strange how these are so good in the ASDs when a second pressing while the SAX semi's are so bad to my ears). A plentiful recording that can be had for cheap enough, though the semi looks to be rare.

    1. Yes, I tried to find a cover image for disc 10 but couldn't. Most of those were imported from google. I typically only use my own cover and LP images for my reviews, and the others are courtesy of various sources on the internet.

      Unfortunately, I don't have ASD 399, but I bet it sounds pretty decent. The Monteux shaded dog is just okay. I don't know if I have a clear winner for a vinyl recording of the Symphonie Fantastique. I've owned the Paul Paray Mercury colorback, which I did like but sold, the Monteux, and the Argenta blueback, which I also sold. I listened to all of them and wasn't particularly moved by any of them. The Silvestri one is very nice. I remember having a surprisingly positive impression of Otto Klemperer's SAX recording. You wouldn't normally associate him with Berlioz, but I found his performance with the Philharmonia to be very enjoyable with good sound. As far as more modern versions are concerned, I like the recent SACD release with Robert Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

    2. Some comments online made mention of Klemperer. I will have to be on the watch for SLS 5003 which has the favorite Klemperer Symphonies. These tend to be later in the SAX lineup, and given my SAX semi-circle aversion, that release (B&w) might be the ticket for me. You also get New World, some Schubert, and a couple terrible SAX I own in semi's (Franck D minor, and Mozart 40/41).

    3. I guess I don't have the same aversion to semi-circle pressings of SAX recordings as you do. Perhaps my standards are a little lower. In general, most of the SAX recordings, blue/silver or semi-circle, are pretty good but not outstanding. That is just my general opinion after having heard more than 100 of them. If sound quality is the thing, I would have to say that the RCAs and Deccas are the top.

      I don't think I've ever seen SLS 5003. How many LPs in that set? How much does it usually sell for?

    4. I'll tip toe back in with some semi-circles eventually, but 4 of 5 I would rate a 1 or 2 for sound and my Milstein a 3.

      Some of the best RCA and Decca are nice, and I know you have some elite ones. To me, both Columbia and EMI ASD have better more solid bass, lending itself to orchestral drive. I've got enough RCA's and was in the middle of obsessing over London(Decca) when I delved into the EMI labels. I strongly disagree and would say EMI is much better. I find that all of the top Mercury, RCA, and Decca/London are not even close in the bass and definition department (some later blue back may be an exception). This coloured, "tube bloom" sound works well with Impressionistic music and flowery Romantic music due to a very pleasing affectation. With your string driven music, I've found RCA and Decca to sound almost sickly some of the time. The hall sound integrates with the bass in a special way on many of the EMI/Columbia that really throws a great sound stage. Some say a more middle of the hall sound, but it just sounds about perfect to me. This is on my system which excels in bass control. The panel speaker is very controlled on the Lyra Titan system. The bassophile may be much of the same, so I am not expecting a wildly different verdict. I had the initial batch of emi for many years that finally caught my attention. Before, I was unimpressed with their lack of tube bloom and my system could not pull out the bass nuances. Now, they are great with awesome bass as a rule. The SAX have a magic to them that stems from excellent control with tubes. Negligible bloom, but all sorts of beautiful, magical sound. Your typical all tube system probably cannot pull this out due to a lack of control in the bass. I'll get these on some Quad electrostatic all tube system soon and see what the verdict is. The Quad should be better than most dynamic driver speakers for bass control with tubes (I think.)

      My hope springs eternal for the Blue and Silver based on my middle of the road SAX of Peter and the Wolf. I am about a third of the way through my ASD XXX list and will have a better feel for where to allocate my gold and cream initial purchases.

      SLS 5003:
      SAX2458 Tchaikovsky: Symphony 6 Philh Klemperer
      SAX2486 Mozart: Symphonies 40/41 Philh Kiemperer
      SAX2514 Schubert: Symphonies 5/8 Philh Klemperer
      SAX2537 Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique Philh Klemperer
      SAX2554 Dvorak: Symphony 9 Philh Klemperer
      SAX5276 Franck: Symphony in D Minor, Klemperer, New Philharmonia

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  11. Franck Symphony in D minor. I really, really like the rendition on the CD. Quite familiar with Monteux. The Klemperer drives me crazy. This may be a sonic stunner on LP. I am quite impressed with the CD. Fired it up on my big rig (very nice blu ray player, good for CDs) where I hardly ever listen to CDs. Impressive, impressive sound. I suppose this should not be a total surprise as one of the great strengths I've been hearing with these is in the bass. I'll have to listen to more, like the Fantastique!

    1. I agree. I'd love to land a copy of the LP, but it would be rare ... and expensive. It probably is a sonic treat!

  12. I loved that whole disc with the Franck. The Franck is also on Japan ANGEL ASC 5053 and CFP 40090. It has better sound than the Symphony Fantastique disk too. The Gold and Cream is not crazy money. I can hear a difference between the recordings which is helpful in deciding too. The Rhapsodie Espagnole is from ASD 417 and I don't see an alternative pressing (ouch time on that at around $300 or more). Aagh, the rest does not look like it was released in stereo! Amazing.

    1. The rest of Disc 11 was released in stereo. The Bournemouth stuff is on Studio 2 Stereo TWO 221, TWO 176, TWO 139, and ASD 2370 (ESD7013). Much was only released on Angel stereo:
      Dvorak 9
      Liszt Les Preludes and Tasso
      Hindemith and Bartok
      and likely disc 13 was on angel stereo, not confirmed

      The rest can be had on original Gold&Cream stereo pressings and other british reissues (SXLP series, CFP series).

    2. Us Angel stereo is not the greatest sound. For the Dvorak 9, Japan ANGEL ASC-5013 might be decent. I do like this performance a lot on the CD set.