Deutsche Grammophon has just released another of their big box sets. This one is not about a composer or conductor, but is a selection of 100 great symphonies ( , Amazon UK), from Giovanni Battista Sammartini to Philip Glass. According to DG:
We have prepared 100 Great Symphonies whose contents are based on the results of an online vote. Our faithful public was asked the simple question: “What are your favourite symphonies?” Up to 10 different works, drawn from three centuries of music, could be chosen. Over 2,300 people responded, casting over 8,000 votes altogether.
To be fair, that’s not a lot of votes, but the contents of this set are interesting. There is an eclectic range of music from the 18th to the 21st centuries, performed by a wide range of orchestras and conductors. There are the classics, such as Abbado, Bernstein and von Karajan, but also the newcomers like Dudamel.
If you have a large collection, you’ve probably got most of these symphonies, but if not, this is a great way to discover the genre. It doesn’t include all of Beethoven’s symphonies, and only four works by Mahler (I’m surprised it doesn’t have the 3rd), but has Ives’ wonderful Symphony no. 2, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, Shostakovich’s 5th, by Mstislav Rostropovich, Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphonie, by Myung Whun Chung, and Bernstein’s Symphony No.2 “The Age of Anxiety,” conducted by the composer.
This box set is available at a nice price, if you live in the UK: it’s currently £83 on Amazon UK. However, it’s not yet released in the US, and Amazon.com lists it at the surprising price of $231. I have a feeling that the price will come down by the time it gets released in the US, in June.