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Lorin Maazel: Great Recordings Box set, Import

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Import, September 20, 2011
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Product Details

  • Composer: LORIN MAAZEL
  • Audio CD (September 20, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 30
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • 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 Import
  • ASIN: B0056K4V04
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,941 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
I looked forward to this box of Maazel recordings, which on the face of things looks exciting. Chief interests for me were the chance to reacquire his complete Beethoven Symphonies from Cleveland, along with a number of other Cleveland recordings I hadn't owned since the LP era, and his Mahler 1 with the French National Orchestra that had never been released on CD.

I started my listening at the beginning with the Beethoven Symphonies, and I'm sorry to report that Sony hasn't spent a red cent improving the harsh and almost-unlistenable sound they gave these recordings on their initial CD release over 20 years ago. The LP set itself featured better sound, though in the flat Sony style of the late 70s. It's instructive to listen to Maazel's Sony recordings of the era alongside his contemporaneous Decca recordings from Cleveland. It's night and day! One company knew how to record this fabulous orchestra (Decca), and one company seemed obsessed with making stereo sound like cheap mono (that would be Sony).

I went back to reread the Gramophone reviews of the LP versions of this cycle and was rather surprised to read reviewers of note commenting on how great the recorded sound was! Taking the reviews to heart, I decided to give the Beethoven Symphonies in this set another listen and to see if fiddling with the dials might do some good. I was able to mitigate the harshness with a -2db cut to the treble. That seemed to help the overall sound of these Beethoven Symphonies. They now more closely resemble the sound I remember from the LPs. However, the recordings themselves are still incredibly flat, with little front-to-back perspective.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
SONY could have done better... The European produced recordings had excellent sound as a whole. The Cleveland Orchestra Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique and Strauss Ein Heldenleben were top of the line but the other American productions needed serious re-masterings. I had to boost the volume on most of the Pittsburgh Symphony recordings to achieve some semblance of high fidelity. The other Cleveland Orchestra recordings sounded like straight transfers from the LPs of thirty to thirty-five years ago. The Tchaikovsky Symphonies sounded abysmal - the couplings were drastic improvements.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As the other reviewer noted, the London/Decca Maazel/Cleveland recordings have MUCH better sound quality than the Sony recordings. It's also odd that the Brahms symphonies recorded by the Cleveland Orchestra and Maazel aren't included.
The RCA recordings in Bavaria, Berlin and Vienna feature excellent sound, and generally very good performances, especially Strauss and Stravinsky. At about $2 per disc, this set represents a good value. As a Cleveland Orchestra supporter, I regret that Maazel's best Cleveland recordings aren't here.
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Format: Audio CD
Most of his best recordings were with the Cleveland Orchestra. His Brahms with the same is a wonder of historic and beautification of sound from the composition of Brahms. See the one from Scribendum available form Amazon. Sony has made some good transcriptions from other artists. Yes! Who owns the Cleveland recordings. If they wait too long then then they will be forgotten! It has been two years since Maazel's death, if they don't hear how great he was, then all is lost.
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