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on 13 February 2012
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. This collector's edition gathers all the Janis from the Mercury CD series (5 CDs), the Bachauer (4 CD), the Szeryng (3 CDs), the Romeros (3 CDs), 6 Starker out of 7 (missing is the Chopin Sonata), 2 Kubelik out of 4 (missing Dvorak's New World and the Kubelik/Dorati compilation of Hindemith Schoenberg Bartok Kodaly). 14 CDs conducted by Dorati (other than Concertos) provide the main bulk of the programs featured in the box, but still those selections only skim the surface. Among the missing ones are his complete Brahms and Tchaikovsky symphonies and Swan Lake, his two Respighi and two Rimsky CDs, his Schoenberg-Berg-Webern collection with the London Symphony Orchestra, three Bartok out of 5, Dvorak Symphonies 7 & 8, Beethoven Symphonies 5-7. The Paray selections are only apetizers, out of 18 Paray CDs the box offers a paltry 2. There are 6 out of the 18 Fennell CDs (I can certainly do without hours an hours of Marches!), 3 out of 16 Hansons (only one out of three of himself conducting his own works, and not his Gershwin with Eugene List), and none of the 3 Puyana CDs. The rest is the famous Russian Balalaika and one Skrowacewski.

Here's the Edition's complete content. The Mercury Living Presence series is not entirely easy to track down on this website, because not all are listed under the label Mercury: some come under Philips, some others under Polygram Records. Unfortunately I cannot provide the product links to each original CD release, since these reviews are limited to 10 such product links: and it's a little under 50 (accounting for the 2-CD sets) I'd need to provide here, on top of which come the SACDs. But I will at least provide the label numbers of the original CD, the ASIN numbers, and those of the SACD reissue when relevant. Since the booklet that comes with the box apparently doesn't provide the info about recording dates, I will do so. The recording dates I provide are collated from various sources: the individual CDs when I have them, but also the mammoth Mercury discography compiled by Michel Ruppli and Ed Novitsky (volume IV has the chronological listing of the Mercury Living Presence classical records, The Mercury Labels: A Discography Volume IV The 1969-1991 Era and Classical Recordings (Discographies)), and the comprehensive and detailed discography of the London Symphony Orchestra by Philip Stuart (it is now hosted on the website of CHARM, the Research Center for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music). I have found no discrepancy between Stuart and Ruppli/Novitsky; there are a few (but rarely more serious than a few days) between them and the dating provided on the CDs. In some cases where I've been able to check, the booklets were wrong and the Ruppli/Novitsky dating was right (no way Mercury could have been recording Paray's Auber Overtures in Detroit on April 4, 1959, AND Dorati's Petrouchka in Minneapolis. So Ruppli/Novitsky's 20 April for the latter is more likely), and in another case,, it was the other way around (the dating of Janis' Pictures at an Exhibition). For a fabulous listing, with cover photos, of all Mercury Living Presence LPs and CDs (but a less detailed presentation of the recording dates), see [...]

CD 1
Kubelik / Chicago SO 23 & 24 April 1951
Mussorgsky / Ravel: Pictures at an exhibition, Bartók: Music for strings, percussion and celesta
434 378 Moussorgsky (orch. Ravel): Pictures at an Exhibition / Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

CD 2
Kubelik / CSO 4-6 December 1952
Smetana: Má Vlast
434 379 Smetana: Má Vlast

CD 3
Howard Hanson / Eastman-Rochester Orchestra
Fiesta in Hi-Fi (works of McBride, Nelson, Mitchell, Vardell, William Grant Still, Ginastera's Ouverture to a Creole Faust)
Recorded: 6 May & 28 Oct. 1956 (1-4), 25 October 1959 (5,6)
434 324 Hanson Conducts Fiesta in Hi-Fi

CD 4
Kodály: Hary Janos-Suite, Galanta & Marosszek Dances & Bartók: Hungarian Sketches, Roumanian Folk Dances.
432 005 Antal Dorati Conducts Kodály & Bartók

Háry János, Hungarian Sketches and Roumanian Folk Dances were recorded with the Minneapolis SO on 17 Nov. 1956, Marosszék and Galánta with Philharmonia Hungarica on 2 June 1958 in the Grosse Saal of the Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna.

CD 5
Menuhin / Dorati / Minneapolis Symphony
Bartók: Violin Concerto No.2 (17 Febr. 1957); Second Suite (26 Nov. 1955)
434 350 Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2; Second Suite

CD 6
Frederick Fennell / Estman-Rochester Pops
Hi-Fi a la Española (25 March 1957) & Excerpts from Popovers (3 & 5 May1959)
434 349 Hi-Fi a La Espanola & Popovers

CD 7
Dorati / London Symphony Orchestra /
Minneapolis Symphony
Prokofiev: Scythian Suite; Love for Three Oranges (4 July 1957); Symphony 5 (14 & 15 November 1959)
432 753, ASIN B0000057L6

CD 8
Howard Hanson - The Composer and his Orchestra. With Merry Mount-Suite (20 Oct. 1957), Mosaics (1 May 1960), "For the First Time" (6 May 1963) and Piano Concerto (with Alfred Mouledous, 1 May 1965)
434 371, ASIN B0000057N4.

Note that the original reissue came with a second disc with discussions by Hanson of orchestration and some of the works, with musical examples. Apparently, not here.

CD 9
Dorati / Minneapolis Symphony
Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture and spoken commentary by Deems Taylor (5 April 1958 with University of Minnesota Brass Band conducted by Gale Sperry, and Bells of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial carillon at the Riverside Church NY, recorded 10 May 1958); Capriccio Italien (22 Dec. 1955)
Beethoven: Wellington's Victory (9 June 1960, sound effects overdubbed at West Point, 20 August 1960)
434 360 Tchaikovsky: 1812 Festival Overture; Capriccio Italien; Beethoven: Wellington's Victory.

The same program can also be found under label number D 111714, and I'm not sure what that series is, I think marketing copies. Note that 1812 and Wellington's Victory were also published earlier on 416 448, but with Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet-Overture instead of Capriccio italien, Tchaikovsky:1812 Overture etc. Apparently this earlier batch of reissues (I've located also a Sousa disc by Fennell and Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances by Dorati) was NOT supervized by Wilma Cozart and not made after the original 35 mm films, but from x generation dubs previously used for LPs, so they are better avoided.

CD 10
Dorati / Minneapolis Symphony (5-6 April 1958)
Dvorák: Slavonic Dances, opp.46 & 72
434 384 ASIN B0000057NE

CD 11
Howard Hanson / Eastman-Rochester Orchestra
Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite (5 May 1958); Herbert: Cello Concerto No.2 (Georges Miquelle, 20 Oct. 1957)
434 355 ASIN B0000057MR. The original issue has also Grofé's Mississipi-Suite: Old Creole Days (4 May 1958), so I am supposing that the Collector's edition does too.

CD 12
Frederick Fennell / Eastman Wind Ensemble
British and American Band Classics, with Gordon Jacob Suite "William Byrd", Walton Crown Imperial March, Holst Hammersmith Prelude and Scherzo (21 November 1958), Robert Russell Bennett Symphonic Songs, Clifton Williams Fanfare and Allegro (3 & 4 May 1959)
432 009 ASIN B0000057KR

CD 13
Dorati / Minneapolis Symphony
Stravinsky: Petrouchka (20 April 1959, not 4 as CD indicates); Le Sacre du printemps (15 November 1959)
London Symphony Orchestra
Four Etudes (7 July 1964)
434 331 ASIN B0000057M3

CD 14
Paray / Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Suppé (29 Nov. 1959) & Auber (4 April 1959): Overtures
434 309 ASIN B0000057LK or B000C4CCAK. This one was also released on SACD, 470 638-2 ASIN B0000DC15J.

CD 15
Paray / Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (28 Nov. 1959); Hungarian March (4 April 1959); Trojan March (3 April 1959); The Corsaire Overture & The Roman Carnival Overture (24 March 1958).
434 328 ASIN B0000057M0, SACD 475 6622 B000AC5B02

CD 16
Frederick Fennell / Eastman Wind Ensemble
Sousa: Sound Off! & Sousa on Review: 24 Favorite Marches
434 300 B0000057LB SACD 475 6182 B0002O3902.
Tracks 1-12: 2 May 1960; 13-24: 5 May 1961.
As mentioned there had been an earlier release of the Sousa Marches by Fennel, 416 147-2 ASIN B00000E347, but I haven't been able to establish if it collected the same 24, and anyway it is one of those non-Wilma Cozart remastered releases.

CD 17
Dorati / London Symphony Orchestra
Enesco: Roumanian Rhapsody No.1 /
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies 1-6
(Enesco + Hungarian Rhapsodies 2 & 3: 13 & 14 June 1960; Hung. Rhaps. 1,4-6: 19-21 July 1963)
432 015 B0000057KX SACD 475 6185 B0007YP0TU

CD 18
Dorati / London Symphony Orchestra (15 and 17 June 1960)
Khachaturian: Gayaneh
Skrowaczewski / Minneapolis Symphony (25 March 1961)
Shostakovich: Symphony No.5
434 323 B0000057LV

CD 19
Dorati / London Symphony Orchestra
Enesco: Roumanian Rhapsody No.2 (14 June 14, 1960)
Brahms: Hungarian Dances; Haydn Variations
434 326 B0000057LY
Hungarian Dances tracks 2-8 and Haydn Variations: 5, 6, and 9 July 1957
Hungarian Dances tracks 9-17: 31 July and 2 August 1965

CD 20 & 21
The Civil War
Its music and its sounds
Frederick Fennell / Eastman Wind Ensemble (14-16 December 1960)
432 591 B0000057L2

CD 22
Byron Janis, Dorati
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 3 (London Symphony Orchestra, 16-18 June 1961) & 2 (Minneapolis Symhony , 18-19 April 1960),. 2 Preludes (17 April 1960)
432 759 B0000057LA SACD 470 639-2 B0000DC15K
"Note: The 35 mm film with the recording of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Byron Janis and Antal Dorati was lost and a tape copy of this recording was used for the first transfer to CD by Wilma Cozart Fine." (from the magnificent survey of Wilma Cozart Fine and Mercury Living Presence on soundfountain dot com). But this also, again from soundfountain: "The later transfers to CD and the 180 gr. LPs are done from the original 35 mm film which was recently rediscovered."

Copland: London Symphony Orchestra: Appalachian Spring (15 & 16 June 1961); Billy the Kid (also 15 & 16 June 1961 according to CD, Rüppli/Novitsky say 24, another reliable source says begun on 15 & 16 and completed on 24); Minneapolis Symphony: Danzón Cubano; El Salón México (20 Dec. 1957)
434 301 B0000057LC

CD 24
Byron Janis / Minneapolis Symphony / Dorati
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an exhibition piano original (25-29 Sept. 1961) + Ravel orchestration (21 April 1959)
Chopin Etude & Waltz (11 June 1962)
434 346 B0000057MI SACD 475 6620 B000AC5AZI

Ruppli/Novitsky date Janis' Pictures from October 6, but apparently through a confusion with the Liszt pieces (Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, Valse Oubliée, Sonetto No. 104, now on CD 31) that Janis recorded on that date.

CD 25
Minneapolis Symphony / Skrowaczewski (23 April 1962)
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suites 1 & 2
London Symphony Orchestra / Dorati (8 June 1960)
Mussorgsky: Night on the bare mountain
432-004 B0000057KM

CD 26
Byron Janis
Schumann: Piano Concerto (Minneapolis Symphony, Skrowaczewski, 21 April 1962); Arabeske (19 December 1963)
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 (London Symphony, Herbert Menges, 7-8 June 1960)
432 011 B0000057KT

CD 27
Pepe Romero (13, 16, 17, 18 April 1962)
434 361 B0000057MX

CD 28
The Romeros
The Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar (13-19 April 1962)
434 385 B0000057NF

CD 29
Frederick Fennell / Eastman Wind Ensemble
Screamers - Circus Marches (6 May 1962) / March Time (16 according to CD or 19 according to Ruppli/Novitsky October 1957)
432 019 B0000057L1 SACD 475 6619 B0007YP0V8

CD 30
Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra / Vitaly Gnutov
Balalaika Favorites (13 & 16 June 1962)
432 000 B0000057KI SACD 475 6610 B0007YP0UY

CD 31
Byron Janis
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra / Kondrashin
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra / Rozhdestvensky
Liszt: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (14 & 15 June 1962) and Miscellaneous pieces from Liszt (6 Oct. 1961), Falla, Guion and Schumann (17 June 1962)
432 002 B0000057KK

CD 32
Byron Janis
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra / Kondrashin
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 (8-9 June 1962)
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.1 (13 June 1962)
Various solo pieces by Mendelssohn, Pinto, Prokofiev (11 & 17 June 1962), Schumann (19 Dec. 1963)
434 333 B0000057M5 SACD 475 6607 B0007YP0UE

CD 33
Janos Starker / London Symphony Orchestra / Dorati
Dvorák: Cello Concerto, Bruch: Kol Nidrei (6-7 & 10 July 1962); Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations (26-27 June 1964)
432-001 B0000057KJ SACD 475 6608 B0007YP0UO

CD 34
Janos Starker
London Symphony Orchestra / Skrowaczewski / Dorati
Schumann: Cello Concerto, Lalo: Cello Concerto (9-10 July 1962)
Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto in A minor (26 June 1964)
432 010 B0000057KS SACD 475 6621 B000AC5AZS

CD 35-36
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (LSO 11, 13, 15 July 1962); Serenade for Strings (Philharmonia Hungarica, 4 & 5 June 1958)
432 750 B0000057L5 SACD 475 6623 B000AC5B0C

CD 37
Henryk Szeryng / London Symphony Orchestra / Dorati
Brahms; Violin Concerto (18 & 22 July 1962) / Khachaturian: Violin Concerto (4 July 1964)
434 318 B0000057LQ

CD 38
Dorati / London Symphony Orchestra
Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle (19-21 July 1962)
Berg: Wozzeck: 3 excerpts (19 & 22 June 1961)
434 325 B0000057LX

CD 39
Gina Bachauer / London Symphony Orchestra / Skrowaczewski
Brahms: Piano Concerto No.2 (6-8 & 10 July 1962), Paganini Variations Book II, Liszt Hungarian Rapsodie No. 12 (20 & 26 February 1963), Beethoven Sonata for Piano No. 9 (9 July 1963).
434 340 B0000057MC

CD 40
Henryk Szeryng, Charles Reiner
Kteisler Favorites (22-23 January, 13-14 February 1963)
434 351 B0000057MN

CD 41-42
Janos Starker
Bach: 6 Suites for unaccompanied cello .(April 1963, Sept & Dec. 1965), Sonatas for Viola da Gamba BWV 1027-1028 (with Gyorgy Sebök, 16 April 1963)
432 756 B0000057L9 SACD 470 644-2 B0001BPPNA

CD 43
Gina Bachauer / London Symphony Orchestra /
Dorati / Skrowacewski
Beethoven: Piano Concertos 4 (7-9 July 1963) & 5 (5-6 July 1962).
432 018 B0000057L0

(The CD booklet credits Robert Eberenz (Robert Fine's associate engineer) as the engineer for these two recordings, but it's illogical: in other booklets Robert Fine is credited as the engineer of all the sessions surrounding those recording days, including some taking place on the very same days (see Chopin hereafter), and indeed Philip Stuart's LSO discography credits Fine as the engineer of those sessions. Eberenz starts being sole engineer in 1964.)

Gina Bachauer / London Symphony Orchestra / Dorati
Chopin: Piano Concertos 1 (8-9 July 1963) & 2 (22-23 June 1964; CD booklet omits to provide dating for this one)
434 374 B0000057N6

CD 45
Gina Bachauer
Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit (with Sir John Gielgud, 30 June 1964), Debussy: Pour le piano, three Preludes (29 June 1964)
Stravinsky: 3 Movements from Petrouchka (26 February 1963)
434 359 B0000057MV

CD 46
Janos Starker / György Sebok
Brahms (25 & 26 June 1964) & Mendelssohn (9 July 1962): Cello Sonatas
434 377 B0000057N8

CD 47
Henryk Szeryng / London Symphony Orchestra / Dorati
Schumann & Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos (5 & 3 July 1964)
+ solo pieces by Bartók, Debussy, Nová'ek. Brahms, Marroquin and Rimsky-Korsakov (13 & 14 February 1963)
434 339 B0000057MB

CD 48
London Symphony Orchestra / Dorati
Stravinsky: The Firebird - complete (7-9 June 1959); Fireworks; Chant du Rossignol, Tango, Scherzo à la Russe (22 June-7 July 1964)
432 012 B0000057KU, SACD B0000DC15L

CD 49
Janos Starker
Italian Cello Sonatas
Bach Sonata in G Minor BWV 1029 (Gyorgy Sebök, 17 April 1963), Vivaldi, Corelli, Locatelli, Valentini, Boccherini (Stephen Swedish, 6-7 June 1966)
434 344 B0000057MG

CD 50
The Romeros
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez (Angel); Concierto Andaluz (Celedonio, Celin, Pepe, Angel)
Vivaldi: 3 Concertos, in B minor, C and G
San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Victor Alessandro (21 & 13 November 1967)
434 369 B0000057N3 SACD B0002O390M

Now, when does volume 2 with 50 more come out?


And a postscript, April 2013: it has. Volume 2. Come out. With 55 CDs, and a load of unexpected questions. See my review of Mercury Living Presence Vol.2
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VINE VOICEon 31 January 2012
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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on 6 February 2012
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. Also included is an excellent 63 page booklet with photos and a short (12 minute) bonus interview disc with Wilma Cozart Fine.

As with any reissue "collection" I want to know why did they pick this recording instead of that one? Why isn't there any Paray/Detroit Ravel or Debussy, Hanson conducting Bloch or other Dorati performances? This of course reflects my own taste. Overall I would say that Universal has done an outstanding job. Let's hope there will be a Volume 2 box set!

This is a CD set for any classical music lover, audiophile, record collector or historian. The sound on these "Mercury Living Presence" CDs outshines even the latest SACD releases! Get this one while you can. I wager it will not be available for a very long time...
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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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on 14 March 2015
It's impossible to overstate just how brilliant - from a technical point of view - these recordings are. The clarity is astonishing and surpasses many CDs in my collection recorded thirty or more years later. Around the core of largely mainstream classical works are a few hidden gems, such as the Los Romeros CDs, some less appealing to my personal tastes such as the band music, and some inspired couplings such as Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit with John Gielgud reading the poems that inspired each section. These three sets (and I have all three) are an absolute joy and a fitting tribute to one of the great recording labels.

The only problem is that the first set has almost sold out and is very difficult to acquire new without paying inflated prices, but I persevered and managed to find a supplier for a brand new set at under £90. Hunt it down while you still can!
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on 27 September 2014
I have bought 5 of these Box Sets of roughly 50 CDs for each of which I put up a brief review.This one and
DG Originals , PhilipsOriginal Jackets, Phase 4, RCA Living Stereo v1 and a sampler of Decca Sound.

I am more interested in mainstream Repertoire which put me off buying the Full Decca Sound set though it does have excellent sound and I will look to buy a few of those CDs individually.

For these Boxsets they offer such good value I have given them all 5 stars.
Though they each have distinct characters.
this MLP set gives good stereo imaging and the first thing I played was the 1812 which was great fun.
I just feel the performances on DG or RCA are better quality and more exciting when soloists are involved.
Where MLP score for me is in orchestral set pieces like Slavonic dances, and more novel pieces like Balalaika Favourites

As other reviewers have implied there are some CDs in this set which I may not play much. But at 1.50 a disc I can happily give them to someone who might appreciate them.

The information on the back of each cover about the tracks is detailed but not repeated in the booklet which is mainly about MLP recording history.
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on 16 March 2012
You must decide for yourself whether you like the Mercury sound - rightly praised as one of the pinnacles of analog recording in the mid-20th century. What is not in doubt is that these performances constitute a precious legacy. All the recordings, made in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s, reveal great musicians whose first aim was to be true to the music. Whether you are a music lover or a musician (or both!), you will find performances that give great pleasure and illuminate an important era of post-war music making. A super bargain.
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on 5 June 2014
Mercury Living Presence is good chance to feel the real analogue sound !!!
Why don't you compare the Living Stereo Sound? Both of them makes me recollect the brillant time of stereo sound !!!
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on 3 August 2015
This set is just great.. and well worth the price. It's full of real gems... I have been a great fan of Murcury Living Presence since I started collecting the CDs in the 90s. Now,it's good to have then all together in 3 vols (I have the 3 complete sets,and they are the very best sets in my collection.) The sound in these discs are so clear and so well recorded. Sit back and enjoy these fantastic recordings.
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on 18 May 2014
Fantastic item. My father had one of the items from this collection on LP back in the early 60's and I have always enjoyed listening to it. Now I have got the best of the recordings made by Mercury in one collection. Thanks!
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