This box set contains the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms, the later symphonies of Mozart, symphonies of Mahler and Bruckner, CDs with rehearsals and many more. The German born conductor Bruno Walter (1876-1962) was known primarily for his interpretations of the Viennese school. Though out of step with 20th century trends he was such a fine musician that he became a major figure - filling the wide gulf between the extremes of his day - Arturo Toscanini and Wilhelm Furtwängler.
Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" put classical disco on the map. It helped that Beethoven's symphony had a heavy percussion feel, which Murphy cranked up a couple of notches with his amazing ingenuity. Other selections, while creatively different, are just as good, but didn't burn a hole in the charts like "Fifth." "Suite Love Symphony," "Flight '76," "California Strut," and "Russian Dressing" will expand your mind and quench your musical thirst at the same time. "Midnight Express" is fine European boogie, while the horn-laden "Get a Little Lovin'" is a funky thing. It's always a nice trick when artists can define a genre with a single song, and Murphy did that. Even better when they can follow it up with an album that expands on that song's charms and delivers a satisfying listening experience.
Walter Gieseking is joined by stellar wind players, including the great hornist Dennis Brain; and the Quintets have a gleaming, robust quality that make them irresistible. They were recorded in the mid- 1950s, a time when Gieseking sometimes operated on automatic pilot, but here he sounds involved and fluent; the keyboard part played with aristocratic grace and, where appropriate, sparkling high spirits. The filler is one of Herbert von Karajan's few successful Mozart recordings, aided immeasurably by the expert first-desk soloists of the Philharmonia.
Veteran Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder has turned in mid-career to live recordings, believing that the live situation makes possible a greater degree of spontaneity. In solo repertoire this has sometimes led him to follow his impulses into bold, unexpected interpretations. Here, in Beethoven's five piano concertos, there's less of an opportunity to color outside of the lines, even though Buchbinder serves as his own conductor (a tall order in Beethoven in itself). Yet his approach still works very well. He may deserve credit right off the bat for getting the sometimes recalcitrant Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to go along with what he's doing; the performances have a satisfying unity between soloist and orchestra.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his period orchestra, Concentus Musicus Wien, never recorded a complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, and this 2016 Sony release is their only recording of the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, made almost ten months before the conductor's death. Harnoncourt planned for this to be his last recording before his retirement, so it inevitably has the feeling of a valedictory performance, and one can also hear it as the orchestra's warm tribute to its leader and his sterling musicianship.
In January 1973, David Liebman, the saxophonist who played on the first sessions of On The Corner let himself be persuaded to play with the group. It really wasn’t his kind of music, but he thought that “it was where things were happening,” and as was his habit, he joined the fray. And it was prodigious, even if Miles had reduced his band in an attempt to radicalize the Afro-funk directions of On The Corner. No more keyboards, except for a few touches by Miles himself and no more Indian instruments.