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Erich Leinsdorf conducts Prokofiev Box set

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, March 25, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

- German pressings of the immense Sony Classical Masters Catalog in smart, desirable and collectible multi-disc editions - The Sony catalog is replete with legendary artists and many of the greatest recordings of the classical repertoire - Box fronts feature large, prominently displayed photo of the featured artist - Slender, shelf-friendly boxes; CD's housed in space-saving slipsleeves

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Erich Leinsdorf
  • Composer: Sergey Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (March 25, 2014)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • 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: Sony
  • ASIN: B004H6P2LA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,776 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andre Gauthier on April 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The performances on this set have been waiting a long time to be released on CD. Try nearly 20 years for almost all of them. Erich Leinsdorf had a special affinity for this music and that can be heard throughout all of Prokofiev's music found in this set. If you're a true fan of the maestro or the composer, don't hesitate to get this great bargain, especially at rates below $20.00 on occasion. Still, I can't be spellbound by any of the six CDs as I'd like to be and worse, know I could be.

Curiously, the transfers don't seem to do the performances justice. First the volume levels of the CDs are so high one might mistake these CD duplications of run of the mill and seemingly worn LP masters with elevator music settings. Specifically, set it and forget it. Normally I set my volume knob at a reference location (about 10 o'clock). With this recording I had to immediately lower that to 7 o'clock. That's bizarre. I've never had a single BMG recording behave in this fashion before. There's a strangely inordinate hiss if the piece starts softly. (5th Symphony) Bad analogue tape noises are found here and there; the near non-existent dynamic range makes me wonder if the transfer engineer was familiar with the much wider dynamics of classical orchestral music. That is to say, pop records tend to have almost no dynamic range - they may sound soft on occasion but the levels are kept hot (meaning they're near the very edge of going into distortion.) None of the original tape/CD transfers were successful in this box set. This is true because all of the pieces here chosen have dynamics that challenge the very best digital systems today, much less tape from 1960-70.

Be careful - some of the pieces, such as the First Piano Concerto and the Third Symphony start VERY loudly.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
With just a few caveats, I can't praise these recordings enough and I am very glad to see Sony/BMG/RCA release them at such a reasonable price. Apart from a slight wooliness that afflicts the beginning of the First Piano Concerto only, they were stunningly well recorded by master RCA engineers Lewis Layton and Anthony Salvatore between 1963 and 1968 and represent the absolute summit of Erich Leinsdorf's recorded achievement as Music Director of the Boston Symphony. They also present brilliant solo contributions from Itzhak Perlman and the late John Browning and Erik Friedman, near the beginning of their distinguished careers.

I previously saluted some of these same performances when they appeared on the British Testament label [See my review of [ASIN:B0007VXZE0 Prokofiev: The Piano Concertos; Violin Concerto No. 1]. Also see Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6; Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 3; and Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet; Lieutenant Kijé Suite]. If you have already purchased Testament's Leinsdorf Prokofiev CDs there's no reason to buy this set except to acquire the Perlman/Leinsdorf recording of the Second Violin Concerto which Testament did not issue. (The Perlman/Leinsdorf Second VC did, however, appear on an earlier BMG/RCA CD coupled with the two Prokofiev violin sonatas. That CD may still be available and prospective purchasers who already own the Testament discs might want to search the Amazon.com site to explore that alternative.
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28 Comments 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I agree wholeheartedly with T. Beers's review, that Leinsdorf's Prokofiev was "nonpareil." Leinsdorf remains an underappreciated conductor. Critics have often complained that his interpretations were cold, severe, intellectualized, even pedestrian, while giving him credit for evoking supremely disciplined playing from the ensembles he conducted. As a veteran concertgoer from the Leinsdorf years in Boston, I can testify that, at his best, Leinsdorf was a tremendous interpreter of everything from Viennese classicism to the Second Viennese School. Like Szell, Reiner and Solti, he preferred to exercise maximal control rather than opting for a more genial, laissez-faire style. He learned quite a bit, I wager, from his experience as Toscanini's assistant. However, like those conductors--who were also accused of being hard-nosed disciplinarians--he had an intuitive grasp of orchestral color and a great sense of dramatic timing. His best recordings convey a heady exuberance and confident grasp of musical architecture that are always put in service of the composer and ensemble.

Leinsdorf was particularly adept and making even the most difficult, "modernistic" scores tractable to the general public. Prokofiev is a case in point. The enduring fascination of this composer comes largely from his ability to combine, in creative tension, fury and tenderness, brutal primitivism and elegant neoclassicism, spiky dissonance and bittersweet lyricism. Leinsdorf understands this tension fully, and conveys it more successfully than any other conductor of which I am aware.

The four Symphonies Leinsdorf got to record--one wonders what corner-office executive nixed the prospect of a complete cycle--are simply outstanding.
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