EUGENE ORMANDY - The Original Jacket Collection
RESPIGHI: The Pines of Rome. The Fountains of Rome. Roman Festivals. MUSSORGSKY-RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade, Op. 35. RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27. Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14. TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. Serenade for Strings, Op. 48. Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (with Isaac Stern). BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra. Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin. Two Pictures. MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64. (with Isaac Stern). SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 1 in F, Op. 10. Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107 (with Mstislav Rostropovich). "THE BACH ALBUMS"
Philadelphia Orch/Eugene Ormandy, cond.
SONY 27987 (10 disks) (B) TT: 10 hrs. 55 min.

MONTSERRAT CABALLÉ - The Original Jacket Collection
Music of Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Rossini, Granados, and Strauss; Zarzuela arias and duets; completye recording of Norma (with Fiorenza Cossotto, Plácido Domiungo and Ruggero Raimondi) and Salome (with Sherrill Milnes, Richard Lewis, Regina Resnik and James King)
Montserrat Caballé, soprano; with Bernabe Marti, tenor; Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano; various orch/conductors
SONY 70722 (15 disks) (B) TT: 11 hrs. 22 min.

BERNSTEIN CONDUCTS BERNSTEIN - The Original Jacket Collection
Overtuure to Candide. Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront. Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah." Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety." (1965 version). Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety" (1949 version). I Hate Music! La Bonne Cuisine. Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion. Symphony No. 3 "Kaddish." Chichester Psalms. Prelude, Fugue and Riffs. Three Dance Episodes from On The Town. Fancy Free. Dybbuk (complete ballet). Trouble in Tahiti (An Opera in Seven Scenes). Facsimile - Choreographic Essay for Orchestra. On The Town. Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers.
Lukas Foss and Philippe Entremont, pianists; Felicia Montealegre, speaker; Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano; Isaac Stern and Zino Francescatti, violinists; Benny Goodman, clarinet; New York Philharmonic/Columbia Symphony Orchs/Leonard Bernstein, cond.
SONY 27988 (10 disks) TT: 10 hours 24 min.

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)