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Great Pianists of the 20th Century: The Complete Edition, Box 1 Box set

4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, October 26, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

100 2-CD volumes (in the two sets) include: Byron Janis II William Kapell Julius Katchen Julius Katchen II Wilhelm Kempff Wilhelm Kempff II Wilhelm Kempff III Evgeny Kissin Zoltan Kocsis Stephen Kovacevich Stephen Kovacevich II Alicia de Larrocha Alicia de Larrocha II Josef & Rosina Lhévinne Dinu Lipatti Radu Lupu Nikita Magaloff Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli II Benno Moiseiwitsch Ivan Moravec John Ogdon John Ogdon II Ignacy Jan Paderewski Murray Perahia Maria Joao Pires Mikhail Pletnev Maurizio Pollini Maurizio Pollini II Andre Previn Sergei Rachmaninoff Sviatoslav Richter Sviatoslav Richter II Sviatoslav Richter III Arthur Rubinstein Arthur Rubinstein II Arthur Rubinstein III András Schiff Artur Schnabel Rudolf Serkin Vladimir Sofronitsky Solomon Rosalyn Tureck Rosalyn Tureck II Mitsuko Uchida Andre Watts Alexis Weissenberg Earl Wild Maria Yudina Krystian Zimerman

Product Details

  • Performer: Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century
  • Audio CD (October 26, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 100
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B00002EITP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #521,234 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Phillips' Great Pianists of the 20th Century issue has gotten a lot of publicity in the ten or so years since it has been released. In a musical niche suffering from falling revenues, it was a decent seller. But it left many connoisseurs disappointed, as the quality was limited to the fancy packaging.

It's useful to contrast the Phillips issue with BMG's 1999 reissue of Arthur Rubinstein's complete recordings. The Rubinstein cycle was done the right way, meaning that the recordings were newly remastered from the best available sources, accurate documentation on recording dates and locations was provided, and the liner notes were perceptive. Sadly, this is not the case with the Great Pianists reissue, all the more surprising because Phillips is a well regarded Classical label, whereas BMG (formerly RCA) has long been thought of as a dinosaur.

The documentation in this series is slipshod and often plain inaccurate. On the Paderewski set, the performance of Liszt's La Leggierezza, is not actually by Paderewski. Instead, Phillips has included the performance by Benno Moiseiwitsch (which is also in their Moiseiwitsch volume). The liner notes also claim the piece includes a coda composed by Moiseiwitsch, when in fact it was composed by Leschetizky. Both volumes dedicated to Alfred Cortot provide erroneous recording dates for Schumann's Kreisleriana and Debussy's preludes (Kreisleriana was actually an outtake that Cortot rejected, but at least Phillips had the decency to withdraw and reissue the Schumann with Cortot's approved version). For the Hoffman volume, you're better off getting the Marston set (from which the Phillips volume was ripped off).
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12 Comments 79 of 82 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I had to write this review, as I am enthralled with this set. I have been going through it in order having already purchased a few individual units from the collection earlier. I am not sure what `insane' was talking about as there is NO repetition. Sure some pianists perform the same pieces, isn't that what they did in reality? The idea is to appreciate the different nuances and approaches taken by these artists. You will then enjoy these pieces from a better vantage.
It is a large ambitious contribution to the art of great piano playing. It is a labor of love and represents a tremendous amount of research and cooperation between many record companies. Rather then representing insanity, it is a resource to treasure.
Yes experts can quibble over who was left out, and what performances were inserted. I do not think such a massive undertaking could have been accomplished without someone being able to find faults. Overall however, unless you already have a monumental collection, (it would have to be almost legendary), this incredible set will give you a rewarding look into 74 of the greatest pianist of all time. You will come away with a honed sense of appreciation for your likes and dislikes. You will undoubtedly become someone who will search out recordings and be able to enjoy them for the rest of your life with a refined ear.
The only negative is this price. I would shop around, as it is daunting to spend 2 thousand dollars on such a collection. Of course you do get 200 CD's. However, the used collections might be good to consider.
Enjoy these masterpieces. I am not ashamed of owning this music as `insane' implies. I am proud to have enriched my life.
2 Comments 53 of 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This series attempts to present important and representative performances by most of the major pianists of the 20th century. One might quibble a bit with the choices, but the works presented are of consistently high quality, and often do represent what may be the best works of a performer. Since this covers most of the time that recorded music existed, some of the recordings are technically challenged, as there is only so much one can do to enhance an old recording. Still, these appear to have been treated with love and respect in their restorations. Since this series is so large (and expensive!) one is tempted to "cherry pick" through the series, yet by doing so one can easily overlook gems by artists one is less familiar with. This large a set must inevitably have many versions of the same pieces, and takes many hours to listen to. The true enthusiast will appreciate the differences in interpretation, whereas the less experienced listener may find the set repetitive and overwhelming. If one has the time to really dig into this set, it can provide years of exploration and discovery. It would make a wonderful gift for some special music lover in your life ... or for yourself!
Comment 40 of 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on July 7, 2001
I've put a lot of thought into constructing my own piano library, and unless you can easily afford the present set, I would recommend a different approach to collecting piano music. This set emphasizes the piano player rather than the piano composer. Of course both are important. For example, the "Barcarolle" appears in this set EIGHT times. I'm sorry, although I love the piece, if I am going to spend [the money], I would prefer more variety. Where are the Alkan, Medtner, and Szymanawski compositions represented in this set? I appreciate having so many interpretations of the same pieces, but I would also appreciate more exposure to pieces not so popular. The selection by Philips which I consider a somewhat popular selection suggests to me that when Philips constructed this set, they realized most people would be buying the disks separately, and this affected the selection. And it's not just that obscure composers are left out, but also if one spends so much money on piano recordings, you'd think you'd want to buy pieces from a composer in completeness. For example, an alternative way to construct a library would be to combine purchases of complete cycles, e.g. complete Beethoven sonatas, complete Scriabin preludes, etc., along with outstanding recordings of more particular pieces. I'm not sure why someone would want to concentrate so much on so many famous artists, instead of acquiring complete sets of compositions. For me the composer is more important, or at least, if I am going to spend [the money]on piano recordings, I'd prefer more complete, rather than snapshot, exposure to the composers.
1 Comment 63 of 95 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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