EUGENE ORMANDY - The Original Jacket Collection
MONTSERRAT CABALLÉ - The Original Jacket Collection
BERNSTEIN CONDUCTS BERNSTEIN - The Original Jacket Collection
Here are three remarkable collections of major recordings by leading artists, joining previous issues in the Original Jacket series devoted to Bruno Walter, George Szell, Igor Stravinsky, Vladimir Horowitz and Glenn Gould. Each CD, for the most part, is an exact duplicate of the original LP issue so many of them have rather brief playing time. However, the price is more than reasonable, the remasterings do full justice to original recordings, and many collectors will fondly remember the LP "original jackets" reproduced on each CD. No texts are provided, but program notes are sometimes extensive, and complete timings and recording information is included.
The Ormandy set contains many treasures. The accent is on Russian music, a specialty of Ormandy, and particularly welcome is the first CD issue of his stunning Pictures at an Exhibition. One might question why there are two disks devoted to Bach transcriptions, and while the CD of "The Romantic Philadelphia Strings" is welcome, Sony has only touched the tip of the iceberg. There is enough material in Sony's vaults to fill several more Ormandy "original jacket" releases, and one could be devoted solely to \t pre-stereo releases, particularly music of Sibelius. But we are thankful for what is here—and to ArkivMusik for their resurrection of a CD that contains virtuoso performances of Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev and other Russian composers (62647). Let us hope for more.
A treat for vocal collectors is the collection featuring Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé. Here we have all of her RCA recordings. Caballé was a towering, if unreliable, figure on the operatic scene for several decades, and here we have her RCA recordings made from 1964 to 1972 all of which display her incredibly beautiful voice at its best. In addition to arias and scenes we have duets with Shirley Verrett, zarzuela arias and duets (with her husband, tenor Bernabé Marti), a group of Strauss songs, and her complete recordings of Norma and Salome. Both are exemplary, but for the magic of Caballé as the Druid priestess, get the fantastic DVD of the inspired performance from the 1974 Orange Festival (REVIEW). Also, look into the private DVD of a rather bizarre 1988 Barcelona production of Salome (REVIEW). There are several other unofficial videos of Caballé as Salome, one of her favorite roles. Don't miss this important multiple-CD set.
Probably most collectors already have all of the Leonard Bernstein recordings included in this new compilation featuring both versions of his Symphony No. 2. Don't forget that Bernstein made many recordings prior to his association with Columbia, and many of these are available on other labels—check ArkivMusic listings for more information, should you be interested in early, early Bernstein.
R.E.B. (September 2008)