Glenn Gould: The Complete Original Jacket Collection - Amazon.com Exclusive Box set, Limited Edition
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The Glenn Gould Complete Jacket Collection" is presented to mark the brilliant pianist's 75th birthday and the 25th anniversary of his death. It is a fascinating, limited edition: all the artist's LP recordings in the "look and feel" of the original vinyl discs on 80 CDs.
The Canadian Glenn Gould (born in Toronto 25 September 1932 - died there 4 October 1982) was without doubt one of the most important pianists of all time. Even today, the idiosyncratic interpretations and the eccentric personality of the "James Dean of the piano" exert a continuing fascination.
In good time to commemorate the artist's birth 75 years ago on 25 September and his death 25 years ago on 4 October 2007, the Sony Classical label is launching a special project in honour of the double anniversary: "The Glenn Gould Complete Jacket Collection" transfers all the artist's recordings for LP on to 78 CDs, from Glenn Gould's legendary 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations to piano works by Richard Strauss released posthumously on 4 April 1984, and of course, not one of the brilliant artist's legendary Bach recordings is missed out.
Each of the 60 single and 9 double CDs consists of the exact recordings as first issued on vinyl and looks like a miniaturised form of the original disc: the CDs are in cardboard slipcases in the original design, and the CD itself is designed to look like a LP.
Supplemented by two bonus CDs, the limited "Glenn Gould Complete Jacket Collection" comprises 80 CDs mounted in a high-quality display case with a booklet of more than 240 pages. This booklet contains a new, detailed essay by the German Gould specialist Michael Stegemann on Glenn Gould and the LP recording era along with texts and repertoire details to all recordings in the edition, plus a listing and depiction of the records with reissue dates for repertoire that has appeared before.
The bonus CDs include the last great interview that Glenn Gould gave the American journalist Tim Page in 1981 and an essay on Johann Sebastian Bach and the fugue that Gould recorded in 1972 for a bonus LP. They also feature a number of late recordings that never appeared on vinyl: fragments of the "Italian Album" and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll in its orchestral version -- Gould's recording debut as conductor and his last recording of all, made on 8 September 1982 with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Another rarity is Gould's own film music to George Roy Hill's Slaughterhouse Five from 1972.
Top Customer Reviews
Glenn Gould is undisputedly one of the great pianists of the recorded era, particularly when performing the works of Bach, and this set basically includes every album he ever released. This is part of Sony's "Original Jacket" series, which is distinguished by straight reissues of albums originally issued during the vinyl era, in exact (but smaller) replicas of the original issue. Luckily for us, Gould recorded exclusively for Columbia (now Sony), so there were no licensing issues. The mastering here is excellent, and sounds like, essentially, flat transfers of the original recorded programs. Given that Columbia's classical division was home to many very skilled producers and engineers, a flat transfer is all that is required.
There's no need to go over the performances here. There is ample documentation of Gould's life and music on the Web. But one point is worth noting: Unlike most classical pianists, Gould preferred the studio to live performance. As a result, in 1964 he retired from the touring circuit and devoted the remainder of his career to studio performances. That means that his (studio) recorded works represent close to the entirety of his career and that his tremendous reputation is based almost entirely on the music represented on these CDs.
There is almost too much music here to digest in any resonable amount of time, but even if you start by only picking and choosing among your favorites, it won't take long to fully justify the price of the entire 80 CD (!!!!) collection. It would be difficult to select discs in this set that WOULDN'T be worth full retail price if sold on their own. The nice book that accompanies the set is a bonus.
This collection is a must for any fan of Gould (which means almost any fan of classical piano).
First of all, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S HERE! Several years ago Sony released a 12-CD box in their "Original Jacket" collection containing roughly half of Gould's recordings of Bach. I have been desperately hoping that one day they would release another companion box with the rest of the Bach. BUT I wasn't expecting this, not even in my wildest dreams! The COMPLETE official releases of everything, including fantastic rarities! And at an incredibly low price! Little more than two bucks per CD. What's more it arrived in just a couple of days with free shipping!
In spite of the ultra-low price Sony didn't cut any corners. The CDs are individually housed in strong, thick, lovely laminated mini-LP covers, each one replicating the original LP artwork. There are three CDs of interviews and unfinished projects: "Glenn Gould: Concert Dropout" - an interview with John McClure of CBS Records, "In Conversation with Tim Page" and "Italian Album Fragments and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll". There's also a 250-page handsome, hardbound book containing a new, detailed essay by the German Gould specialist Michael Stegemann plus notes, reviews, rare photos and additional alternative LP artwork taken from the reissues and compilations. You also get the complete listings and timings for all the CDs in clear, legible type.
All of this is contained within a sturdy, durable and very beautiful carrying case that will look very cool on your shelf. This is easily the greatest reissue edition of anything so far attempted by Sony. It even surpasses in several aspects the first release on CD of the "Stravinsky Legacy" (available now in a slim super-budget box. Very few frill but an astonishing bargain).
Any quibbles? Well, it would be ungrateful to find flaws in such a beautiful, comprehensive and well-thought-out surprise but I could mention a few things that I would have added:
* The dialogue and outtakes from the 1955 Goldberg Variations. Those were included on the recent "Birth of a Legend" release and should have been part of this issue as well.
* At least one bonus DVD with some essential biographical stuff and snippets of performances on TV and film.
* The notorious Brahms First with Bernstein. I know it's a live recording and not really part of the official "canon" but it is on Sony's "Great Performances" and it wouldn't have cost them much to include it. Lenny's disclaimer at the beginning of the concert is more than worth it.
* Perhaps a CD-rom with printable large versions of the liner notes from the original LPs.
Anyway, a dream come true for Glenn's fans. I might add that the sound (from what I have heard so far) is uniformly excellent. That should come as no surprise since Mr. Gould was very actively involved in the recording and engineering aspects of his work.
What next, Sony? Perhaps a big Bernstein box? A giant Szell retrospective? Ormandy? Mitropoulos? Walter's mono and stereo versions of his core repertoire? Stravinsky's complete MONO recordings, including the RCA masters? (that one in particular could be easily achieved since Sony and BMG are now one company. Ah, we can dream!
As for the Glenn Gould box. Buy it now! It's a very limited edition and if you shop around you will find that almost everywhere they are already charging much more for it, often more that double! Don't miss out on this. I don't think it can be done any better in the future. This is definitive. BUY IT NOW!!!
If you are not familiar with the story of this sometimes eccentric artist, use your favorite web search engine and read some of the volumes of biographical literature available. I will not even attempt to do justice to the life here.
The Original Jacket CD collection contains complete replicas of every studio recorded LP released during Gould's lifetime. In Gould's case, this is certainly a very valid and appropriate presentation of his recorded legacy. Gould took great pride in participating in every element of the recording and production process. While the music could be rearranged and squeezed onto fewer than probably 50 CDs, with Gould it makes perfect sense to present the listener with exactly what Gould took great care to produce without modification. And given that the entire set is available for less than $3 per CD, any gripes about getting short changed by being forced to buy 80 CDs is short-sighted nonsense. And the CDs hardly take up enormous shelf space. The box is 10 inches long with a hinged cover, the equivalent of 24 standard jewel cases. The original album covers are only slightly useful, being that one can hardly read the liner notes. And one must consult the 250+ page book to get CD track numbers, as the sleeves have LP sides/track numbers. But that is a minor quibble.
Don't hesitate. Order the set now. Avid collectors will confirm that these Sony Original Jacket Collections become very hard to obtain very quickly. Limited Editions they truly are.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This set is now over-priced and obsolete.
Yet I don't know how to describe it. Maybe that's the provence of the music in this set.Read more