Bargains Galore

Oh, cruel universe, why tempt me so? Is there no one who is unaware of my weakness for the Boxed Set, the comprehensive collection on CD of the work of a musician?

And, why not. Along with the satisfying sense of completeness they are frequently tremendous value. And there’s two new sets coming out this month that are equally massive, equally valuable and, I’m certain equally AWESOME . . . !

Wagner: The Great Operas From the Bayreuth Festival is a 33 CD collection of almost every Wagner opera, all recorded live at Bayreuth. I’m not familiar with the Wolfgang Sawallisch recordings included in here, but I’m sure they quality is fine, and the set includes the Böhm Ring Cycle, generally regarded as the companion classic to Solti’s cycle, and one I do NOT yet have. Okay, rack it please!

The other set is a collection of the English master, Ralph Vaughan Williams. I used to admit to loving is music in grad school, and received a few scornful laughs, but I do love his work. He wrote wonderful songs and along with the beautiful Pastoral Symphony produced a collection of works that balanced a Romantic sound world with a very Modern mystery. His last four symphonies, including the 7th which was adapted from a film score, are hermetic, enigmatic, inward turning works, enticing to the ear and heart and leaving a sense of fascinated bafflement, which I find a high achievement. All those are here, in consistently fine performances led by Vernon Handley, along with EVERYTHING else. At 30 CDs, and a price of a little more than $50 depending on where you buy, who can say no? Certainly, not I . . .


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.