Pierre Boulez: The Return of The Magus

Feast your eyes on that beauty above! I’ve been waiting to see this appear in the domestic market since a reader pointed me to a listing for it at Amazon UK a couple months ago.

This box is all the recordings Boulez made for Columbia Records, and that includes fine and important performances of the core of modernism: Debussy, Stravinsky, Berg, Schoenberg, Bartók, Varèse, Webern, along with what were, at the time, unexpected selections from Wagner, Mahler, Handel and Beethoven.

The music from the older composers were the first hints that Boulez was exploring the music of the classical tradition through a backwards journey through modernism. There is also a generous set of Berlioz, not unexpected. Less well known but as important are a fantastic disc of music by Berio, and two pieces from Elliott Carter. There are also great performances of Boulez’s own music, including Pli selon pli and Livre pour cordes. You can see the full selection at Presto Classical  where the set is currently for sale at $90 less than Amazon, with an earlier release.

The best current price, though, is at Import CDs: $152, $100 off the Amazon price for the same release date.

There’s another indispensible box Columbia Records box coming out, at the moment only showing at Presto: Charles Rosen – The Complete Columbia and Epic Collection  The 21 discs from this great pianist and thinker cover the baroque (Bach) to the contemporary (Carter), including great Beethoven, Chopin, Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Webern. In another week this should be listed at both Amazon and Import CDs.

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