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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Value, 8 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Williams: The Collectors Edition - The Masterpieces, the Greatest Artists (Audio CD)
EMI's new 30-disc collection includes almost all the works of one of England's and the world's pre-eminent 20th century composers. The sheer volume of material makes a succinct review impossible. Suffice to say that there are of course stronger and weaker moments as there will be in any collection of this magnitude. But overall, it provides an opportunity to hear the development of Vaughan-Williams body of work. There is a lyrical quality to his music, almost a lightness which conjures up marvellous imagery whether traversing the sort of pomp that marks English music and which the British culture does so well, to the innate sadness that permeates much modern classical work as a reflection of the great tragedies in the first half of the twentieth century.

All of the glorious symphonies and the major choral works and operas are included with magnificent performances and recordings. The few missing items are available elsewhere (such as the London symphony) and are omitted presumably only because EMI did not record every single piece written by Vaughan-Williams. Two versions of his immensely pleasurable English Folk Songs Suite are included - the LSO plays the orchestral version which unfortunately curtails the third movement rather abruptly, while the RAAF band plays the symphonic band version in full.

There is some criticism of the packaging, but to me it is the only sensible and economic way to present a 30 disc set that is selling for under AUD$30 - strong box with paper sleeves. The booklet is more of a detailed index rather than containing any notes, commentary or photos, but these are available elsewhere and more elaborate packaging would inevitably drive the price too high and create storage problems for those of us with burgeoning CD collections (not to mention the record and tape collections!). So well done EMI !

Rarely have I come across such a grand collection at such a bargain price (under $1 per CD, not counting postage). Given its ability to bring such music pleasure to the market, it is a shame to read of the recent trauma at EMI and the fear that it has become a victim of the download era we endure. It is not only dinosaurs who prefer wielding a heavy box of CDs over an ipod filled with digital files, but then my grandparents probably felt the same way about the demise of 78s.
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