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Mercury Living Presence (Decca box set) Box set

19 customer reviews

Price: £66.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
Only 13 left in stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
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£66.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 13 left in stock. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Mercury Living Presence (Decca box set) + Mercury Living Presence Vol.2 (Decca box set) + Living Stereo Collection
Price For All Three: £210.82

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Product details

  • Audio CD (30 Jan. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 51
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B005XBA9Y8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,256 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

Mercury Living Presence is special in many ways - an American company, from the heyday of classical recording in the U.S. that reproduced some of the most sonically realistic recordings at the dawn of the stereo era. Precious few stereo LPs were pressed when these recordings were issued, and they became some of the rarest, most collectible classical discs ever. Mercury Living Presence continues to enjoy a special reputation as one of the most enterprising, prestigious and sonically-spectacular labels in the history of classical recording.

Some of these recording have been available on CD and on SACD. However, many are now deleted and only available 2nd-hand or through auction sellers at pemium prices. This 50-album Box Set (plus bonus interview CD with Wilma Cozart Fine, Mercury’s producer) affords collectors an opportunity to acquire 50 classic recordings at a terrific price, in a box which may well become collectible itself.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Discophage on 13 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD
50 CDs from the Mercury Living Presence series released in the early to late 1990s (the 51th CD is a bonus, with an interview with Wilma Cozart Fine, the producer, from the early 1950s to 1964, of many of those already legendary reissues, and the wife of C. Robert Fine, the sound engineer who really MADE the sound of Living Presence, thanks to his "minimalist" approach to microphoning): of course, this reissue is as much about what is NOT included as what is. Between 1990 and 1995 Philips/Universal released more than 100 reissuses from the Mercury catalog - I've counted 135 CDs (some in 2- or 3-CD sets) excluding the two compilations "You Are There!" - transfered and remastered with loving care from the original masters by Mrs Cozart Fine. Some were also later issued in SACD form (I am aware of 20 releases), but apparently those were not produced by Wilma Cozart Fine, and, unlike the straight CDs, they weren't made using the restored original Mercury "vacuum-type Westrex film recorder and Amex 3-track tape machine". Anyway, those SACDs are now selling at very unreasonable prices, and likewise with many of the original CDs, also offered at steep prices on the secondary market, so it is good to have at least part of them (50 / 135 makes 37 %) back at less than 2 pounds a disc. The set will be very welcome at least to newcomers who wouldn't have most of them already. Not my case: I have too many of the individual issues to make it worthwhile to replace the whole, just to get the few I am missing. So I'll have to keep scouting on the net in search of affordable opportunities.

All the CDs on this collector's edition are straight reissues from the original CDs, with no reshuffling of material. No cause for concern here: those original CDs were very generous in timing.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By P. H. Cartwright VINE VOICE on 31 Jan. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These are just my preliminary impressions, having received this set this morning, although some of the recordings were already familiar.

As I write this, Byron Janis is playing the Schumann piano concerto and very well too. This is one of the later recordings made by Mercury (1962) using 35mm optical film instead of magnetic tape and the sound quality is really good. I believe that the film has suffered less deterioration in the ensuing 50 years than tape, with its tendency to "print through" and flake.

Overall, on the CDs listened to so far, the sound has that "brightness" that I have always associated with American recordings of this period. The ear soon acclimatises but the initial slight shock lingers in the mind - try disc 18 (Dorati, LSO, Khachaturian's Ganeh suite) to see what I mean.

Sound quality of these recordings, made on purely analogue equipment with valve (tube) amplification, is still very good. I'm playing it back on valve-based amplification to get the full effect.

Of course, the most striking characteristic of this set is its amazing value - just over £1.50 each for 51 of some of the finest recordings ever made, often by great artists. You can't go wrong at this price.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Dub Taylor on 6 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I remember being a teenager in Los Angeles in the 1960's at my favorite record shop (remember those?), browsing the classical record bins and looking at the bright coloured stereo band at the top of those "Mercury Living Presence" LPs. How I longed to buy them all. But alas, I didn't have the coin in my pocket in those days.

In 1990 Polygram began reissuing these treasures on compact disc. I was in heaven, because at long last I could possess these long sought after albums. From 1990 to 1999 Polygram issued 125 "Mercury Living Presence" titles on CD (not counting samplers or reissue CD sets). Some were multi CD sets. There was a short lived SACD reissue series by Universal Music from 2004-2005 totaling 20 titles from the same catalogue. Most all these CD and SACD titles are now out of print. These CDs and SACDs are at the top of the list as my favorite recordings in my music collection.

Now we have all been given another chance at acquiring some of these milestone recordings. Universal Music has issued this magnificent 51 CD box set at an unbelievably low price. Some of the out-of-print original individual compact discs would cost you more than this set to acquire! All the performances in this set are the original digital transfers by Wilma Cozart Fine, who supervised the original recording sessions and LP issues with her husband, the genius sound engineer, Robert Fine.

Included in this set are the first mono recordings from 1951 with Kubelik and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also, stereo recordings by Dorati, Hanson, Paray, Fennell, Janis, Szeryng, Starker, Bachauer, The Romeros with the Minneapolis, Detroit, Eastman-Rochester, London Symphony orchestras.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Christopher Harris VINE VOICE on 17 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's hard to know where to start with this wonderful box! I suppose sheer value for money comes first, 50 CDs for less than £80 can't be bad.

Then we come to recording quality. Ok they were recorded a long time ago but they were absolutely top notch in their day (we used to use the Tchaikovsky 1812 to demonstrate HiFi systems in my uncle's record shop in the 1960s) and they still sound great to me.

Then the performances - well I guess there are always issues of taste but I would pick out from those I've listenened to so far:

- the 1812
- Ma Vlast
- Prokofiev 5th
- Grand Canyon Suite
- Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos 2 & 3 (Byron Janis)

I also enjoyed the "Music and Sounds of the American Civil War" with its spectacular canon and musket sounds. Specialist I know but very interesting.

If you like good music and good recording you just can't go wrong with this. A stunnign bargain!
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