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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

E. Power Biggs: Sony, it's time for a Biggs box set


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Showing 1-25 of 93 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 26, 2012, 3:31:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012, 4:45:40 PM PST
Sony has been bringing out some very good box sets of many legacy artists from Columbia Masterworks and RCA Victor Red Seal. E. Power Biggs offered an amazing array of splendid organ performances, many of which simply haven't made it to CD (i.e. the 1972 "Music for Organ, Brass and Percussion" LP - recorded in New York's Riverside Church with a brass ensemble conducted by Maurice Peress) or the CD availability has been very spotty. Anyone know how to bring this oversight to Sony's attention?

P.S. Music for Organ, Brass and Percussion - Music of Gigout, Dupré, Campra, Widor, Strauss, Purcell, Clarke, and Karg-Elert, Columbia Masterworks M31193 (with the Columbia Brass and Percussion Ensemble, Maurice Peress, conductor)

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 3:35:21 PM PST
Neaklaus says:
I don't, but boy do I agree with you!!!

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 4:15:24 PM PST
sound_notes says:
Agreed. A big original Jacket box of Biggs would be nice. Especially if it's in print longer than a blink of an eye.

By the way, speaking of Bach organ, anyone have an appetite for this?

http://www.aeolus-music.com/ae_en/All-Discs/AE10761-Bach-Johann-Sebastian-Complete-Organ-Works

Newly recorded in surround super-audio, it's tempting.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 4:30:11 PM PST
Worth noting - if memory serves me correctly, E. Power Biggs' earliest recordings were for Victor. The vast majority of his career, he recorded for Columbia Records.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 4:38:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012, 4:44:52 PM PST
Lark says:
Hear, hear!

Those who wish to write on
Biggs' behalf can try this:

Attention: Sony Music Feedback
Sony Music Entertainment
550 Madison Avenue, 23rd Floor,
New York, NY 10022-3211

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 5:45:26 PM PST
<<<Worth noting - if memory serves me correctly, E. Power Biggs' earliest recordings were for Victor. The vast majority of his career, he recorded for Columbia Records. >>>>
didn't victor become part of RCA?
RCA became part of BMG which became part of Sony.
so a box set with the columbia recordings could have them as well...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012, 6:03:53 PM PST
KenOC says:
RCA bought the Victor Talking Machine Comapny in 1929 and became RCA-Victor. Many many changes later in 2004 RCA and its main rival in the 50's through the 70s, Columbia, ended up in the same corporate group, Sony BMG.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012, 8:47:13 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012, 8:48:31 PM PST
Spaceneedleboy mentions that E Power Biggs's earliest recordings were for RCA Victor, but the vast majority of his recordings were for Columbia.

That's my recollection as well. Around 1940 Mr Biggs recorded The Art of Fugue for RCA Victor on ten 12-inch 78s (Albums M-832/833). His instrument was (from Wiki) "G. Donald Harrison's Baroque-style unenclosed, unencased instrument with 24 stops and electric action (produced by Aeolian-Skinner in 1937 and installed in Harvard's Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts)".

I don't think this Art of Fugue was ever transferred to LP or CD.

At some point (my guess is late 1940s) Mr Biggs switched from RCA Victor to (American) Columbia and remained with Columbia for the rest of his career.

I'd very much like to see a BMGSony retrospective box of his best recordings.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 10:31:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012, 10:40:37 PM PST
Mandryka says:
I have just one Powers Biggs CD, with some Bach pops at Zwolle and some Mozart at Haarlem. I got it really for the Mozart, which someone recommended when I was investigating records of the Fantasy for Mechanical Clock.

The Mozart is brash and extrovert and straightforward. He plays for thrills. For example, in the central passage of K608 he maintains a steady pulse and chooses a bright registration. There are no agogic hesitations and he plays lyrically. I think a more mystical registration, a more expressive approach to agogics and a more inward looking style works better there. The final sections are much better. He plays with tremendous energy and the registration choices and ornamentations really work for me.

I'm glad to have the CD.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012, 10:38:36 PM PST
KenOC says:
A good intro to Biggs, Bach, and the Flentrop organ. Venerable but very good sound, and 99 cents used!

Bach: Great Organ Favorites with E. Power Biggs

Posted on Nov 27, 2012, 1:43:06 PM PST
Neaklaus says:
And while we are wishing, how about a Szell, Cleveland Orch. Box set.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012, 4:00:23 PM PST
sound_notes says:
> And while we are wishing, how about a Szell, Cleveland Orch. Box set.

Seconded.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012, 4:25:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012, 4:31:08 PM PST
A long time ago, I bought all of the Szell/CSO Beethoven symphonies on CD.
They may not be available now...

I'd like to see all of the original Biggs albums
individually released on CDs at reasonable prices
(and preferably without the confusing addition of "bonus tracks"),
so that I could buy the ones I wanted and leave the rest.

I'd also like to be able to get a complete collection of
his Victor recordings in some form.

It would be especially nice if "Four Antiphonal Organs"
was released in 4-channel on SACD (even though I don't have
an SACD player) and/or some other multichannel format.
[I have both the stereo and SQ versions on LPs.]

>> There is no reason why a CD couldn't be SQ-encoded,
if the producers were willing to have it done.

One of the best Biggs items to have on CD would be
"The Organ In Sight And Sound", although reproducing
the contents of the 12 X 12 book included with the LP
in a CD size would be very difficult, if not impossible.

Maybe a 12 X 12 box with a full-sized book
and a cardboard insert to hold the CD jewel case would work...

Posted on Nov 27, 2012, 5:53:45 PM PST
Neaklaus says:
The Bach recordings from Frieburg were released on an SACD back when the format was first introduced. It was released in 4 channel sound too. Unfortunatly it was not a Hybrid disc, so you had to own an SACD player to play it. The second recording has yet to be issued on CD much less SACD.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012, 5:08:19 PM PST
I used to own some E Power Biggs recordings back in the LP days. One of these was an album of Scott Joplin Rags that was fun to listen to. That one should also be included in a box set (or reissued on CD).

Posted on Nov 28, 2012, 6:42:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012, 6:48:07 PM PST
Lark says:
I love the tireless energy of Biggs' performances that move right along without sounding rushed or mechanical, at least to my ears. All of these are in the Columbia/Sony vaults somewhere and I'd be interested in hearing as many as possible, preferably remastered:

The Golden Age of the Organ, Columbia Masterworks M2S 697 (A tribute to German organ builder Arp Schnitger)
Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche, Columbia Masterworks M30648
E. Power Biggs' Greatest Hits, Columbia Masterworks MS 7269
Bach Organ Favorites, Columbia Masterworks MS 6261
Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 2, Columbia Masterworks MS 6748
Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 3, Columbia Masterworks MS 7108
Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 4, Columbia Masterworks MS 7424
Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 5, Columbia Masterworks M 31424
Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 6, Columbia Masterworks M 32791
Mozart: The Music for Solo Organ - Played on the "Mozart" organ at Haarlem, Columbia Masterworks MS 6856
Sweelink: Variations on Popular Songs, Columbia Masterworks AMS 6337
A Festival of French Organ Music, Columbia Masterworks MS 6307
Buxtehude at Lüneburg, Columbia Masterworks MS 6944
Stars and Stripes Forever - Two Centuries of Heroic Music in America, Columbia Masterworks 81507
The Organ in America, Columbia Masterworks MS 6161
Historic Organs of England, Columbia Masterworks M 30445
Historic Organs of France, Columbia Masterworks MS 7438
Historic Organs of Italy, Columbia Masterworks MS 7379
Historic Organs of Spain, Columbia Masterworks MS 7109
Historic Organs of Switzerland, Columbia Masterworks MS 6855
The Four Antiphonal Organs of the Cathedral of Freiburg, Columbia Masterworks M 33514 (music of Handel, Purcell, Mozart, Buxtehude, et al.)
Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord, Columbia Masterworks MS 6804
Bach: The Six Trio Sonatas (Pedal Harpsichord), Columbia Masterworks M2S 764
Holiday for Harpsichord, Columbia Masterworks ML 6728
A Mozart Organ Tour, Columbia Masterworks K3L 231
Bach: The Little Organ Book, Columbia Masterworks KSL 227
The Art of the Organ, Columbia Masterworks KSL 219
Heroic Music for Organ, Brass, and Percussion, Columbia Masterworks MS 6354
Mozart: Festival Sonatas for Organ and Orchestra, Columbia Masterworks MS 6857
Haydn: The Three Organ Concertos, Columbia Masterworks MS 6682
The Magnificent Mr. Handel, Columbia Masterworks M 30058
The Organ in Sight and Sound, Columbia Masterworks KS 7263 (A technical discussion of the organ and its history)
The Organ Concertos of Handel, Nos. 1-6, Columbia Masterworks K2S 602 (with Sir Adrian Boult)
The Organ Concertos of Handel, Nos. 7-12, Columbia Masterworks K2S 604 (with Sir Adrian Boult)
The Organ Concertos of Handel, Nos. 13-16, Columbia Masterworks K2S 611 (with Sir Adrian Boult)
The Organ, Columbia Masterworks DL 5288
Bach at Zwolle, Columbia Masterworks KS-6005
Hindemith: Three Sonatas For Organ, Columbia Masterworks MS 6234
Famous Organs of Holland and North Germany, Columbia Masterworks M31961
Music of Jubilee, Columbia Masterworks ML 6015 (Bach Sinfonias, with Zoltan Rozsnyai)
Soler: Six Concerti for Two Organs, Columbia Masterworks ML 5608 (with Daniel Pinkham)
Plays Scott Joplin on the Pedal Harpsichord, Columbia Masterworks M32495
Heroic Music for Organ, Brass & Percussion, Columbia Masterworks MS 6354 (with the New England Brass Ensemble)
Music for Organ and Brass - Canzonas of Gabrieli and Frescobaldi, Columbia Masterworks MS 6117
Music for Organ, Brass and Percussion - Music of Gigout, Dupré, Campra, Widor, Strauss, Purcell, Clarke, and Karg-Elert, Columbia Masterworks M31193 (with the Columbia Brass and Percussion Ensemble, Maurice Peress, conductor)
Mendelssohn in St. Paul's Cathedral, Columbia Masterworks MS 6087
The Glory of Gabrieli Columbia Masterworks MS-7071
What Child Is This? Traditional Christmas Music, Columbia Masterworks MS 7164
Bach: Toccata in D Minor, Bach's Toccata in D Minor recorded on 14 of Europe's finest organs, Columbia Masterworks ML 5032

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012, 9:53:21 PM PST
Lark, many thanks. What a great BMGSony box those recordings would make! One problem, though: Sony's policy of including no notes whatsoever might get in the way. For this one, the listener really wants to know---for instance---where those 14 organs were for those 14 Toccatas, and what their registrations were.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012, 2:57:34 PM PST
Larkenfield:
You could have saved yourself an awful lot of typing by starting out with
a blanket statement that all of the titles were on Columbia Masterworks,
then giving only the catalog number of each...

Oh, for a perfect CD copy of the Soler concerti for two organs... !

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012, 3:05:04 PM PST
KenOC says:
I suspect a Biggs complete original-jacket edition is a pipe dream. That would be a horrible business decision. No way does Biggs have the residual star power of a Horowitz or a Gould. More likely, and still only a hope, one of those six-CD Sony boxes for $15-20 -- and don't expect any program notes, much less remastering!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012, 3:28:38 PM PST
Ken, yes: Sad, but true.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012, 4:07:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 30, 2012, 4:11:40 AM PST
Lark says:
Hi David,

I appreciate the thought. But actually, I simply pasted in the titles directly from the Biggs Wiki article as they were listed rather then posting the link, and it took less than a minute. I was surprised and delighted to know how many titles there are, and I consider him equal to any other organist who has ever existed on the planet. He's my favorite Bach organist by far. I've never been disappointed in anything I've heard. When he plays it's like being hit with a spectacular wall of sound and he makes the composer sound like the greatest who's ever lived. There should be more releases out remastered like the one Ken mentioned and a couple of others that are still available, from which I get such great satisfaction. Part of his appeal comes from the fantastic organ he's playing on that he knows like the back of his hand. Best wishes, Lark.

Posted on Apr 24, 2013, 7:24:50 AM PDT
Many here have eloquently written about E. Power Biggs' phenomenal musicianship, artistry and technical skill.

Ideally, Sony would devote the kind of attention to Biggs' recorded legacy that they brilliantly did in this most recent 10-disc compilation of Leopold Stokowski's stereo albums for Columbia Masterworks: Columbia Stereo Recordings

But even one of the bare-bones box reissues would be better than nothing..... come on, Sony, do you want to actually make some money on these back-catalog recordings?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2013, 1:54:07 AM PDT
Jim Ginn says:
I heard rumors of a Szell box issued in Japan a month or so ago on one of these discussions, so there is hope--?

Posted on Apr 27, 2013, 6:36:40 AM PDT
There is a new 39-disc box set of Bruno Walter's recordings for Columbia Masterworks coming out soon - per amazon.de "Bruno Walter - The Edition"

http://www.amazon.de/Bruno-Walter-Edition-Rudolf-Serkin/dp/B00BNZN27E/ref=pd_rhf_cr_s_cp_4_18RA

Packaging is modeled after the Bernstein anthology box set - "Leonard Bernstein: The Symphony Edition Leonard Bernstein: The Symphony Edition

Posted on Apr 27, 2013, 7:40:49 PM PDT
Jim Ginn says:
We definitely need a Biggs Bach Set.
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Initial post:  Nov 26, 2012
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