Customer Review

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow...!, 27 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Constantin Silvestri - ICON: The Complete EMI Recordings (Audio CD)
Some of these EMI Icon boxes have been very, very good. This one is superb. It's a long, long way from being just a random reissue of some half forgotten conductor's work in elderly sound that it may seem to be at first.

To my shame, my only recollections of Silvestri are of a concert of his with the Bournemouth Symphony I attended when I was a youngster, and a couple of rather fine CFP LPs of violin concertos with Leonid Kogan as soloist that I regret parting with, and which are not included here.

Contained within this box of 15 CDs is some of the most exciting and committed conducting and playing I've heard in a very long time. The Dvorak is wonderful, all of it, the Tchaikovsky 4th is very exhilarating, his famous Elgar and Vaughan Williams with the BSO is drop dead gorgeous, The Sorcerer's apprentice out-Stokowskis Stokowski and is one of the many highlights of the set. Ravel's Bolero has rarely sounded so intoxicating, the Symphonie Fantastique is superb, and so it goes on. Its not all on quite such an exalted level of course, the Tchaikovsky Pathetique is a bit ordinary, and the fifth symphony strikes me as rather dull compared to the likes of Muti for example, but everyone should hear this, and at the price there is no excuse. Just buy it.

The recording quality is variable. The discs here range from mid 50s mono to late 60s stereo. Most discs are in stereo however, although the few recordings by EMI France are fairly ropey to be honest. The best sound is easily the BSO performances from the mid 60s which is bordering on excellent.

I can't stop playing these discs. I'm off for a third go at Dvorak's 7th if my nerves can take it.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Aug 2013 16:26:18 BDT
Mania says:
Paul, excellent review! I also reviewed this on the US Amazon side and must say our ideas are almost completely in sync. The Dvorak is fantastic and the 8th is the best recording of that symphony of all time. I can think of no other that is as great as that one. The rest is truly great as well, and yet I find the Tchaikovsky a bit ordinary.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2013 11:24:57 BDT
Paul B says:
Kind of you to say so D.T. I just read yours and agree with you completely. There's so much good stuff in this box that its difficult to know where to stop in recommending it to others. The best twenty quid I've ever spent I think. I see there are some more Icon boxes due out in the Autumn, and a couple look quite interesting so better start saving.

Posted on 14 Dec 2014 14:12:14 GMT
"the Tchaikovsky Pathetique is a bit ordinary". May I take issue Paul? Maybe on repeated hearing you have changed your mind? The recording went wrong for sure, (at least on the LP), but the performance is still for me the greatest on record. The last movement has never been equalled. I am still searching for another conductor (Monteux apart) who observes the pause after the pppp bassoon in the first movement; without it, the work falls apart. It's in the score so any ignorant conductor who ignores it ought to be barred from conducting the work....fat chance of that of course. Thxs for an otherwise excellent review. Best wishes. AB

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2014 13:21:46 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Dec 2014 13:29:23 GMT
Paul B says:
Thanks for your comments AB. (I quite like your fourth symphony by the way.) To be honest, I get very suspicious of the many Amazon reviews of these large sets that go overboard on superlatives and find no faults whatsoever with anything. That just isn't realistic, so I tend to doubt whether the reviewer is being properly objective or not. I tried to include what I saw at the time as a few negative points for a bit of balance, and the poor old Tchaik 6 got singled out as a wee bit less than superb! I still think this box of delights is one of my best ever purchases, and still have Muti and Stokowski at the top of my list for the best Pathetiques ever, but I've just listened to Silvestri's again, the first time since I wrote the review, and I have to admit its pretty darned good and loved every minute of it!

(It's probably a good job I don't own a miniature score, as I never missed that pause before.)

All the best.

P.S. If anyone still doesn't have this set, snap it up while you can before it goes OOP and starts fetching silly money again.
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Location: England

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