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Centennial Set 1904-2004 Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, January 18, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

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This 4-CD set celebrates the 100th anniversary of the London Symphony Orchestra, tracing its development and rise to a place among the world's premier orchestras. Founded in 1904 by 46 disgruntled members of Sir Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra and 53 adventurous young colleagues, the LSO became the first self-governing, cooperatively owned English orchestra. (It was also the first to tour America.) To safeguard its autonomy, the LSO had "Principal Conductors" and guests instead of music directors; in the booklet, the players talk about them very affectionately. Observing the orchestra's evolution and its incredible responsiveness to these very different conductors is one of the fascinations on this journey through a century of music-making. Although the recorded sound is influenced by advances in technology and, in the live recordings, varying acoustics, the playing is invariably wonderful: terrific performances of great music, chosen to bring out the best in musicians and conductors.

The LSO's very first recording of 1914 opens the set: Weber's "Oberon" Overture under Arthur Nikisch. The sound is antique, the strings slide, the trombones bray, the ensemble is messy, but the playing has an exuberance that augurs well for the future. The set ends with two excerpts from Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini under the LSO's present Principal Conductor, Sir Colin Davis, a renowned Berlioz specialist, with whom the orchestra has had a long, close relationship. Captured at London's Barbican Center in 1999, the performance is thrilling, although, like several of the set's live recordings, imperfectly balanced.

Among the highlights are appearances by two guest conductors. In 1938, Bruno Walter--whom the players "felt God had put in charge"--made Beethoven's "Coriolan" Overture sound ravishingly warm and singing; by contrast, Stravinsky's Petrouchka and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, recorded live at the 1994 Salzburg Festival, are driven, steely, almost militaristically precise under George Solti. Josef Krips' performance of Schubert's Sixth Symphony of 1948 projects elegance, delicacy, sweetness, grace, clarity, and leisurely expressiveness; the players felt Krips was turning them into a "suave, homogenous Austrian" orchestra. One of the orchestra's favorite maestros was Pierre Monteux, "who had so much… musicianship and wisdom to impart." Recorded live in Vienna 1963, his Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet is lush and surging, going from ardent lyricism to turbulent passion, and sounds fabulous. In a 1966 Promenade concert, István Kertész goes all out in contrasting dynamics and emotions in Schubert's "Unfinished" and Dvorák's Sixth Symphonies, but the sound at the Albert Hall is not good. At the Barbican in 1997, Debussy's Jeux is all shimmering color, atmosphere and mercurial mood under Michael Tilson Thomas. In this musical cornucopia, listeners will find their own favorites. --Edith Eisler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Oberon, overture to the opera
  2. King Lear Overture (Grande Ouverture du roi Lear), for orchestra, H. 53 (Op. 4)
  3. Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
  4. Symphony No. 6 in C major ('Little C Major'), D. 589: I. Adagio, Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 6 in C major ('Little C Major'), D. 589: II. Andante
  6. Symphony No. 6 in C major ('Little C Major'), D. 589: IV. Allegro moderato
  7. Romeo and Juliet, fantasy-overture for orchestra in B minor (3 versions)

Disc: 2

  1. Symphony No. 8 in B minor ('Unfinished'), D. 759: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Symphony No. 8 in B minor ('Unfinished'), D. 759: II. Andante con moto
  3. Symphony No. 6 in D major, B. 112 (Op. 60) (first published as No. 1, Op. 58): I. Allegro non tanto
  4. Symphony No. 6 in D major, B. 112 (Op. 60) (first published as No. 1, Op. 58): II. Adagio
  5. Symphony No. 6 in D major, B. 112 (Op. 60) (first published as No. 1, Op. 58): III. Scherzo: Furiant (Presto)
  6. Symphony No. 6 in D major, B. 112 (Op. 60) (first published as No. 1, Op. 58): IV. Finale (Allegro con spirito)

Disc: 3

  1. Petrushka, ballet (burlesque) in 4 scenes for orchestra (1911 version): Tableau I. The Shrovetide Fair. The Crowds. The Mountebank's
  2. Petrushka, ballet (burlesque) in 4 scenes for orchestra (1911 version): Tableau II. Petrouchka's Room
  3. Petrushka, ballet (burlesque) in 4 scenes for orchestra (1911 version): Tableau III. The Moor's Room. Dance of the Ballerina. Waltz
  4. Petrushka, ballet (burlesque) in 4 scenes for orchestra (1911 version): Tableau IV. The Shrovetide Fair (evening). Wet Nurses' Dance.
  5. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64: I. Andante - Allegro con anima
  6. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64: II. Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza
  7. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64: III. Valse - Allegro moderato
  8. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64: IV. Finale - Andante maestoso; Allegro vivace

Disc: 4

  1. Cockaigne Overture ('In London Town'), concert overture for orchestra & organ, Op. 40
  2. Jeux, ballet, L. 126
  3. Benvenuto Cellini, opera, H. 76a, Op. 23: Overture
  4. Benvenuto Cellini, opera, H. 76a, Op. 23: [Act 1, Tableau 1]. Trio


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 18, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • 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: Andante
  • ASIN: B00029BP58
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,245 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Not all the Andante boxed sets I've heard have been wonderful, indeed some (like the 'Falstaff' set) have been not very competitive at all. But this collection of performances by the London Symphony Orchestra is spectacularly good. It contains the orchestra's very earliest recording, under Nikisch, from 1914, and comes all the way forward to some 1990s performances under Colin Davis, Georg Solti and Michael Tilson Thomas. Since Amazon has not (as yet) listed the contents, I shall do so by speaking of each performance in order of its appearance on this 4CD set.

CD1: Nikisch led the orchestra, of course using the old acoustic recording technique, in a historically interesting performance of Weber's Oberon Overture. It is in execrable sound but still one can hear why people revered Nikisch; he shapes and molds the performance beautifully. And it also shows that as far back as 1914 there was an artful application of vibrato (and, alas, rather annoying portamenti) in the string-playing, lest anyone think, as some apparently do, that string vibrato is a more recent thing. This is followed (1935) by the Berlioz's King Lear Overture led by a conductor we don't often associate with that composer, Hamilton Harty. Because of its form, 'Le Roi Lear' is hard to hold together, but Harty shows himself to be a fine Berliozian. We get a warm, dramatic and cohesive 'Coriolan' Overture by Bruno Walter (1938). From 1948 we have Josef Krips leading Schubert's 6th Symphony and I swear they sound like the Vienna Philharmonic of that period, with a warm bloom in the violins and a lightness of spirit that one doesn't hear in the earlier performances. CD1 is finished by what for me is one of the really great performances I've ever heard of Tchaikovsky's 'Romeo and Juliet' Overture, led by Pierre Monteux (1963).
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Although andante.com is presently struggling, it started out with high ambitions. One of them was to forge special links with great orchestras, which gave the site access, for example, to the reorded archives of the Vienna Phil., Philadelphia Orch., and London Symphony. Hours of suprirses have resulted, and this cenenary colleciton from the LSO contains more than a few.

The previous reviews have been detailed and enthusiastic, so I will add only a few comments. The LSO struggled for almost five decades before beginning to develop into a genuinely outstanding ensemble. They became, and still are, a jack-of-al-trades orchestra for hire, playing for film scores ad crossover albums. Their personnel was erratic, especially when Thomas Beecham came poaching for his Royal Phil. and Walter Legge for his Philharmonia Orch., both of which outshone the LSO until the mid-Sixties.

Therefore, what you hear on the first two CDs is pretty variable. Even the excellent Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet from 1963 is more notable for Monteux's relaxed, natural conducting than for anything special in the orchestra. One begins to hear international-level playing in 1966, when Istvan Kertesz conducted a Proms concert of the Schubert "Unfinished" and Dvorak Sixth Sym. with undisguised brio and vitality. Both readings suffer from boomy, distant recordings made in Albert Hall (the Wembley Stadium of concert halls), which is a shame. The Schubert is a great dramatic performance, better than what Kertesz did in the studio with the vienna Phil., and the Dvorak is at least as good as his famous complete set of the symphonies, a hallmark in its day.
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By justme on September 23, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this for my fiance who is a music lover because of the fabulous reviews. He has a very sensitive ear...relative perfect pitch. He's thrilled with this CD!!! It was delivered promptly. Thanks so much.
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good opportunity to hear the LSO through its long and distinguished history. I bought the disc to hear Maurice Murphy and was not disappointed.
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