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on 18 July 2011
The article in the included booklet starts with a story of how Sir Charles Mackerras recalled that during rehersals of Gounod's Faust at the Paris Opéra in 1975 "Gedda spoke English to me, Italian to Mirella Freni, Finnish to Tom Krause, Russian to Nicolai Ghiaurov and French to the musicians." In addition to the more obvious languages of German, Italian, French and Spanish in these recordings he also sings in English, Swedish, Norwegian and Russian. His repertory includes songs and arias in twelve languages.

This box is incredible value for money. You get eleven generously filled discs with excellent examples of the immaculate art of this unbelievably versatile Swedish tenor. We get everything from Bach cantatas and 18th century French songs through opera arias and songs by all the most important composers of the 19th and 20th centuries to operetta and Broadway musicals. The French repertory is especially well represented with songs and arias by Rousseau, Gluck, Auber, Meyerbeer, Adam, Thomas, Berlioz, Gounod, Offenbach, Bizet, Lalo, Massenet, Fauré, Poulenc, Debussy and Hahn.

His other stronghold, the Russian repertory includes Glinka, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov and Traditional Russian folk songs with a male chorus and a balalaika orchestra. We get popular Italian songs by Denza, de Curtis, Bixio and a terrific rendition of Lara's Granada.

The more central repertory of arias and songs by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi (with impeccably stylish performances of Forse la soglia attinse...Ma se m'é forza perderti from Un ballo in maschera and the notoriously difficult Parmi veder le lagrime from Rigoletto), Wagner, Puccini and Richard Strauss is well represented. There is also a small section devoted to Nordic music by Sibelius, Grieg, Alfvén, Peterson-Berger, S.L. Sjöberg. All in all one could say that this a representative compilation of the most important Western music for tenor voice of the past three centuries.

Although I had I think about half of this music already in my collection this is still worth buying because most of the music has been remixed and edited so that things like the 1952 mono Boris Godunov aria and the 1957 Mozart arias, both from Paris, sound fresh and vibrant. Most of the recordings date from the nineteen sixties and seventies and sound very good.

Any friend of Gedda's art need not hesitate. Others will do well by having this boxed set in their collection of vocal music as an example of exceptional vocal style that comes from almost perfect vocal technique. I would have paid the price for only the eleventh disc of this 85th birthday tribute to Nicolai Gedda, which consists entirely of a 1995 interview. In it Gedda recalls an impossibly slow Flower aria from Carmen conducted by Beecham (of whom Gedda gives an uncannily witty vocal impression) and how difficult it was to perform. The interview is interspersed with musical examples so we get two different performances of La fleur que tu m'avais jetée from Carmen in this box.

All 228 musical numbers are very well notated in the booklet with the names of all participants, locations, exact recording and publishing dates and names of producers and balance engineers. If all compilations were produced as well we would live in a better musical world. To sum up I would say this is almost indecent luxury. If you couple this box with Gedda's 2 CD Gedda-Champagner-Operette recording, which he crowns with a high D flat at the end of Souchong's final aria in act 2 of Das Land des Lächelns, you will have ample material for a desert island.
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on 7 March 2010
All Rubinstein's Chopin recordings are valuable examples of his art and his early EMI sessions - collected here - are amongst his finest. Whether they are better than his later ones for RCA Victor will always be a matter for debate but, what is certain, is that these five discs contain some of the finest and most rewarding Chopin playing ever recorded.

Here are superb performances of the complete published nocturnes, mazurkas, ballades, concertos, polonaises and scherzi together with assorted shorter works. For example, the first three nocturnes are probably the finest ever recorded and the set of mazurkas remain a benchmark. [There are no preludes and etudes and only representative walzes as complete sets of these works were recorded during the same period by Alfred Cortot for EMI who, generally, did not duplicate repetoire in major projects.]

This is a reissue of the 1992/3 remasters and the booklet also includes Max Harrison's interesting essay which accompanied that earlier issue. The sound quality is, for the time, excellent and the set can be recommended without reservation to all lovers of Chopin's music. An essential purchase as, of course, are his later recordings for RCA Victor.
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on 6 December 2011
I hesitated at first about buying 11 CDs of one singer but went ahead and am delighted to have done so since Nicolai Gedda had such a wide repertoire and in so many languages that there is never any feeling of monotony. Gedda was surely one of the truly great lyric tenors of the last century. He had everything: beautiful even production, especially remarkable at the top of his range where there isn't a trace of strain even at full volume; a burnished silver tone; the ability to characterize and in addition perfect diction, whatever language he was singing in (he was an outstanding linguist, speaking at least seven languages fluently).

Although he made over 200 recordings he was never really a household name, mainly I would say because he never cheapened his art by taking part in publicity-seeking gimmicks, never behaved badly towards colleagues or cancelled at the drop of a hat. (I'm using the past tense even though Gedda is still alive at 86).

The opera extracts involving Victoria de los Angeles are a particular delight: the two singers got on particularly well together and indeed have much in common in the approach to their art. The Icon set of de los Angeles is also well worth acquiring.

Some of the tracks I already had on CD and a comparison shows that EMI has made a great job of the remastering: the voice is a touch more realistic and orchestral backings have greater depth. The CDs are also very generously filled, all with timings of at least 75 minutes.
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on 22 July 2011
Thank you, Mr. Koskinen for your wonderful and perceptive review.

I will not add any to this, however I must say that this and many of the other EMI Icon sets are a wonderful value. This set in particular is past praise. Who other than the incomparable Mr. Fischer-Dieskau has proven so omni-talented, flexible and made so many fine recordings? Mr. Gedda uses the term "document" in reference to many of his recordings. He is absolutely right. How blessed we have been to have heard Mr. Gedda and have these marvelous "documents" of his art.

And I whole-heartedly agree: the Interview disc is worth the price alone. One is struck by Gedda's near perfect English(should we really be surprised?). WONDERFUL all around. Buy this set before it is too late. Enough said.

State-side Music-lover
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on 16 October 2014
Wonderful playing as one expects from a master interpreter of Chopin. But some of the recordings go back to the 30s so the sound quality isn't wonderful, and the background hiss is disconcerting in some of the most reflective quiet passages. Sadly only 2 waltzes are included, but what a set for the money.
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on 23 September 2011
Rubenstein's renditions were beautiful in his hey day and remains so in the 21c! If you love Chopin, you'll definitely not be disappointed with this set of 5 cds, particularly since the big bonus is the LSO conducted by Sir John Barbirolli
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on 21 February 2011
Because he lived out his adult life in Paris, sometimes desperately homesick for his native Poland, one doesn't readily think of Chopin as a Polish composer. But to hear Rubinstein play his Mazurka and Polonaises is to be reminded of the authentic Chopin. Who could ask for more?
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on 1 September 2011
i bought this as a companion to "rubinstein plays brahms".An excellent recording especially the ballades,well priced and to be played again and again.
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on 18 September 2010
For any one who is interested:There follows my opinion of the best redordings of the works of Chopin.
The Waltzes. No one plays them better than Dino Lapatti.
The Nocturns. Artur Rubinstein
A close second is Peter Katin.
The Polonaises. Artur Rubinstein. A close second, Peter Frankel.
The Preludes. Friedrich Gulda.
The Scherzoz. No.1 Artur Rubinstein.No.2Benno Moiseiwitsch.
No's 3 and 4 Artur rubinstein.
The Ballades.No's 1-3 Benno Moiseiwitsch.No.4. Madam Helena Stavanska
The Fantasie Impromtu. Opus 66, Benno Moiseiwitsch.
I think that will do for now!
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on 13 November 2014
great CD
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