Byron Janis: The Complete RCA Collection Box set, CD+DVD
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Byron Janis is not only one of the 20th-century’s outstanding artists but he is recognized as one of America’s greatest pianists of all time. The Byron Janis Collection brings together his entire discography on RCA--no fewer than seven ‘first on CD’ releases, previously unreleased recordings of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as well as works by Liszt – with each LP newly re-mastered and including facsimile sleeves and labels.
The enclosed booklet contains an essay by Richard Dyer based on an interview with the pianist, many previously unpublished photos and full discographical notes. A DVD with the The Byron Janis Story, produced by Peter Rosen, as well as a bonus CD with early recordings complete this documentation of an extraordinary career.
The Byron Janis Story DVD recounts the musician's miraculous, unusual and inspiring life. Janis overcame every challenge--a tragic childhood accident, five hand surgeries, severe bursitis and debilitating arthritis--and serves as an inspiration for those who have triumphed over adversity. In his own words, the legend talks about his boyhood trauma; his tutelage under the strong-willed Vladimir Horowitz; his debut in 1948 at New York City's Carnegie Hall; his cultural exchange in 1960 with the Soviet Union; his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and his 1984 performance at the White House, in which he revealed his battle with arthritis to the public for the first time. It also features interviews with conductor Lorin Maazel, actress Marian Seldes, pianist Emanuel Ax, and Byron's second wife, Maria (Gary Cooper's daughter) and his son, Stefan.
Top Customer Reviews
Before the year 2013 is over, Sony will have issued bargain-priced Complete Collections devoted to FIVE significant American pianists.
Sony is crypt-keeper for the recorded legacies of American Columbia (Fleisher, Graffman) and RCA (Kapell, Cliburn, Janis, early Graffman).
1) William Kapell: Complete Recordings 1944 - 1953 11 CDs
2) Van Cliburn: Van Cliburn - Complete Album Collection 28 CDs + 1 DVD
3) Leon Fleisher: Leon Fleisher Complete Album Collection [Box Set, Limited Edition] 23 CDs
4) Gary Graffman: Gary Graffman - The Complete Album Collection [Box Set] 24 CDs
5) Byron Janis: The box under consideration, 11 CDs + 1 DVD.
An Original Jacket collection.
Vladimir Horowitz talent-scouted the young Byron Janis to be his student.
Janis' greatest recordings were made for Mercury (now Universal) after he left RCA in 1959.
Nevertheless, his RCA period (1947-1959) is worth looking into, especially the concerto recordings with Fritz Reiner and Charles Munch.
In the 1970s, his career was cut short by arthritis.
This is documented in the DVD included with the Sony box.Read more ›
But this release is strange! Sony have included all Janis' original albums, including one unreleased at the time, and his early 78s. In fact there are certain items that are repeated across disks. But there are also other non-album items that are missing (admittedly not part of his original discography, as far as I am aware), and which appeared on the first of the "Great Pianists" volumes dedicated to Janis. Most strangely, one track originally released on the "plays Chopin" album: the Nocturne op 27/2, is simply not there (and the notes acknowledge this). Why not? Was it really that bad?
So this is a mixed blessing. I assume that it is targeted at completists and specialists (like me). It lets them down, slightly but disappointingly.
1. CD9 is entirely redundant. Both items are included on other cds within the set.
2. Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite on CD2 contains no contribution from Janis. the remaining item - Rhapsody in Blue is 14 minutes. However, the GCS is not otherwise available so it's useful to have it I suppose.
3. The average playing time per cd is around 35 minutes. The entire collection minus the repetitions could therefore be condensed on 5-6 cds and this could be done sensitively. (It's a left field remark, but if you also purchased the RCA complete Reiner box you get most of the Janis concerto works there)
As another contributor has mentioned, a Janis Chopin item has been deliberately omitted and noted as such but without explanation. Two Liszt recordings Janis made with RCA are also not included - Consolation 5 in E & Sonetto 104 del Petrarca from 1957. These latter two were included on the Philips issue of Janis RCA recordings in the 'Great Pianists of the 20th Century' series (456 847-2). I have actually seen somewhere a listing of the contents of this Sony box with all three of those missing items listed so what happened, I wonder?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have ordered this box set and it is a bargain that can not be missed and this price you can buy 2 Naxos cd.I am sure I will enjoy it when he box set arrive. Read morePublished on 12 July 2014 by Mr. M. Beebeejaun
Byron Janis is undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, but the person at RCA who had the idea to mount this box is incredibly inept. Read morePublished on 1 Aug. 2013 by Moncho
These are fascinating performances. I already have the recordings that Janis made for the Mercury label, but this box contains many earlier issues on RCA and some that have not... Read morePublished on 12 July 2013 by Geoffrey J. Cutting