GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: MN Dave on September 20, 2020, 02:51:36 PM

Title: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MN Dave on September 20, 2020, 02:51:36 PM
Remember these babies? I sort of relied on them to bulk up my collection back in the day. Any favorites?
https://www.discogs.com/label/253180-Essential-Classics
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vers la flamme on September 20, 2020, 02:55:52 PM
I have a bunch of these. So much great Ormandy and Szell, and soloists like Philippe Entremont, etc. One of the best ones is the Szell Mahler 4th, the Szell Schubert 8/9, and the Entremont/Ormandy Ravel and Gershwin PCs.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MN Dave on September 20, 2020, 04:02:35 PM
I have a bunch of these. So much great Ormandy and Szell, and soloists like Philippe Entremont, etc. One of the best ones is the Szell Mahler 4th, the Szell Schubert 8/9, and the Entremont/Ormandy Ravel and Gershwin PCs.
I will access these immediately. Thanks.

One of my favorites is LvB Concerto For Violin And Orchestra In D Major, Sibelius Concerto For Violin And Orchestra In D Minor, Op.47
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MN Dave on September 20, 2020, 04:29:40 PM
I remember buying the five Beethoven piano concertos with Leon Fleisher, Szell, Cleveland - as a LP boxset.  For years, decades, maybe, it was the only way I listened to these works.

(https://img.discogs.com/WZtu1Sp73izrtbxB9Lm9l3ct9ts=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-5962496-1407510156-6317.jpeg.jpg)

They were later issued as a 3CD set coupled with the Triple Concerto as an Essential Classics

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/gPMydaTnQHvVegnynd3fdIjP76WxwPdMgOCDdayCjknER_v8j0Kf0utZJbHNQpJ5asKTEpdKurWDCoy_Tw4eF1DH)

Yes! That’s some great Beethoven!
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Brewski on September 20, 2020, 04:34:10 PM
1,000% to all, but especially to those old Cleveland recordings.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Jo498 on September 20, 2020, 10:15:01 PM
They came a little bit too late for me as I already had a lot of standard repertoire in the early 1990s from other sources but they were a welcome edition (and sometimes incredibly good value as unlike most other cheapo series they had decent booklets). So my favs are not necessarily from good old times >25 years ago but sometimes acquired much later. Now they have been mostly replaced by the "white boxes"

Beethoven: Late Piano Sonatas Rosen
Bach: Goldberg variations Rosen
Bach: Trio sonatas Power Biggs
Dvorak: piano quintet/American Quartet Juilliard/Firkusny
Haydn: Late symphonies with Szell
Hindemith/Walton: Mathis, Metamorphoses, Variations Szell/Ormandy
Mozart: Piano concertos Casadesus/Szell
Tchaikovsky 5th symphony, violin concerto etc. Szell/Ormandy etc.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: ritter on September 21, 2020, 01:12:37 AM
...
Beethoven: Late Piano Sonatas Rosen
Bach: Goldberg variations Rosen

Bach: Trio sonatas Power Biggs
Dvorak: piano quintet/American Quartet Juilliard/Firkusny
Haydn: Late symphonies with Szell
Hindemith/Walton: Mathis, Metamorphoses, Variations Szell/Ormandy
Mozart: Piano concertos Casadesus/Szell
Tchaikovsky 5th symphony, violin concerto etc. Szell/Ormandy etc.
How curious, I too have the bolded ones in my collection. The only other one that comes to mind right now is Robert Craft's recording of Monteverdi's Vespro (coupled with two Bach cantatas), which AFAIK was never released on CD in any other form.

Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Jo498 on September 21, 2020, 02:41:33 AM
I am wondering if they largely kept some prominent musicians who were eventually honored with their own "editions" out of that cheapo essential classics, namely Bernstein, Gould, Boulez.
I found a few more Essential classics going through some shelves
Brahms piano concerto #1 Serkin/Szell
Mendelssohn Concerti with Serkin and Stern
Bruch/Lalo/Vieuxtemps violin works with Zukerman
Schubert: Schöne Müllerin with Haefliger (this was my first recording of that piece)
Sibelius: Symphonies 2+7 Ormandy
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: aukhawk on September 21, 2020, 08:33:14 AM
Bach; Cello Suites; Anner Bylsma (his earlier and IMHO preferable recording)
Bach; The Art of Fugue; Canada Brass Ensemble
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Gurn Blanston on September 21, 2020, 02:53:52 PM
When I first started buying CD's in the early '90's, these had the dual virtue of being locally available as well as affordable. As a result they were my first exposure to big-time (albeit already non-current) classical recordings. Some of my favorites included:

Mendelssohn Piano Concertos (Serkin/Ormandy) and Violin Concerto (Stern/Columbia)
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (Oistrakh/Ormandy) and PC #1 (Gilels)
Dvorak Violin Concerto (Stern Ormandy) and Cello Concerto (Rose/Ormandy)
Dvorak  Slavonic Dances (Szell/Cleveland)
Haydn String Quartets Op 76 (Tokyo Quartet)
Mozart Symphonies, 35, 40 & 41 (Szell / Cleveland)

And many more that memory doesn't allow me to instantly recall. The concertos with Ormandy were always especially outstanding, they had the best soloists of the time, and played the hell out of the accompaniment. All this was before I discovered HIP, of course.... :D

8)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Sergeant Rock on September 21, 2020, 03:44:52 PM
Some of my favorite "Essentials"

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/july2009/WagnerSzellimg846.jpg) (https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/july2009/JanSzellimg860.jpg)

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/mahler/Mahler6szellcleveland.jpg) (https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/oct2010/beetrosen.jpg)

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan11/bruckner38szell.jpg) (https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/febgmc/WagOrSz.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MusicTurner on September 21, 2020, 10:34:57 PM
I've got at least Entremont in Rachmaninov Paganini-Rhapsody & Ctos 1+4 (good and underrated IMO), Casadesus/Szell in a Mozart Ctos CD, the Dvorak Violin + Cello Concertos, maybe some additional ones too.

I've got much more stuff on LPs, and on the CBS-Sony CD 'Royal Collection', though.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vers la flamme on September 22, 2020, 01:21:16 AM
Some of my favorite "Essentials"

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/july2009/WagnerSzellimg846.jpg)
(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/febgmc/WagOrSz.jpg)


Sarge

I have these both (the first in a different, non-"Essential Classics" guise) and I concur that both are great. I'm listening to Szell's Lohengrin Prelude now actually. What a performance! This stuff was my introduction to Wagner and still about as far as I go on a regular basis with his music.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Sergeant Rock on September 22, 2020, 04:02:12 AM
I'm listening to Szell's Lohengrin Prelude now actually. What a performance!

Indeed, a great one. I heard Szell and the Cleveland perform that in 1969 at Blossom (my first time there). A perfect opening to a perfect concert (the Lohengrin Prelude, Mozart Piano Concerto 21 with Curzon and Brahms 4). Absolutely memorable evening.

Sarge
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: 71 dB on September 22, 2020, 04:06:49 AM
I have always hated deeply the cover art of this series. It's pretty much the antithesis of my taste. Some off the things I hate:

- The color gradient background => cheap trick to make things look "fancy", but for my eyes it looks silly.
- Unnecessory stuff such as the trapezoid bars in the bottom (and they even use gradient colors to make it extra silly!)
- Unnecessory Italic font.
- The blue "ESSENTIAL CLASSICS" logo is HUGE! It could be the width of the Sony logo and under it. Now the blue background color become dominant color and starts to fight with other dominant colors in the cover often.
- Margins and distances of different objects is amateurish so that the cover art doen't look balanced. Visual rhythm is poor.
- The upper left corner logos "Opera", "Orchestral", "Solo Piano" makes me feel like an idiot who doesn't know Beethoven's late piano sonatas are solo piano music! Are these CDs for 8 years olds?

For these reason the result is a total mess to my eyes I would expect from the package of an electronic tool, but not from a classical music CD.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Jo498 on September 22, 2020, 07:52:34 AM
You are completely right, they are mostly ugly. And not even so ugly in a fun geeky nostalgic way as some others.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: j winter on September 22, 2020, 08:46:48 AM
They've redone a lot of the covers in a different style.  For example, this is the most recent one I've picked up -- the repertoire is not my usual cup of tea, but for someone wanting a good sampling or introduction to this music, this is both excellent and cheaper than lunch at McDonald's...

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61Aq-1wl3fL._SY355_.jpg)

I've bought many wonderful recordings from this series over the years... I'll whole-heartedly second Sarge's choices, particularly the Szell Wagner overtures, which are by far my favorite recordings of these... of course I imprinted on a lot of these recordings years ago, which is why I have the big Szell and Walter boxes on my shelf...

Personally I always preferred the cover art on the Great Performances re-issues (of many of these same recordings), but I know that's a minority opinion, and largely nostalgia talking... :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/914kXTQc3zL._SX450_.jpg)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Jo498 on September 22, 2020, 08:57:57 AM
The Great performances covers are also ugly but in a fun geeky nostalgic way, although admittedly not really for me personally as they were not common when and where I started buying CDs.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 22, 2020, 09:40:12 AM
The Great performances covers are also ugly but in a fun geeky nostalgic way, although admittedly not really for me personally as they were not common when and where I started buying CDs.

They just re-used the newsprint LP covers
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vers la flamme on September 23, 2020, 02:15:37 AM
I'm OK with the "Essential Classics" covers but I HATE the newspaper covers of the "Great Performances" series. I refuse to buy one.  >:(
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Roasted Swan on September 23, 2020, 02:32:53 AM
Some of my favorite "Essentials"

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/july2009/WagnerSzellimg846.jpg) (https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/july2009/JanSzellimg860.jpg)

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/mahler/Mahler6szellcleveland.jpg) (https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/oct2010/beetrosen.jpg)

(https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan11/bruckner38szell.jpg) (https://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/febgmc/WagOrSz.jpg)


Sarge

I don't know the Rosen but all the others are excellent!  I would add many of the other Ormandy and Szell recordings to the point of saying you rarely go wrong with any of them.  I was listening to a couple of the Stravinsky (odd butchered Petrouska - but what there is wonderfully played) and Ravel discs and the RVW 4 from Mitropoulos (yeah I know - not strictly one of the "essential classics" series!). The playing is breath-takingly fine and the recordings - even in these early masterings - so much better than I remember from low grade 70's vinyl.  The Barenboim/Zukerman Elgar violin conc. is still one of the very finest there is.  Easily the best performance of Barenboim's first traversal of Elgar.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51vvLeMo1-L._AC_UL320_.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51Rv9kaYGQL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41VWRfpiEmL._AC_UY218_.jpg)(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61+iCMF3ejL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51emtH2kLLL._AC_UY218_.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51wyxMgWzYL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51ogGV4j9oL._AC_UY218_.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51ZE2SpAuYL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vandermolen on September 23, 2020, 04:15:42 AM
I share a number of Sarge and Roasted Swan's choices, including the Wagner orchestral music from the Ring, Szell's Bruckner's 3rd Symphony (still my favourite recording), Mahler, Symphony 6, that great Mitropolous and Stokowski Vaughan Williams disc and the Shostakovich 4th and 10th symphonies from Ormandy (my introduction to both works on LP) + Walton Symphony 2 (Szell) and Belshazzar's Feast (Ormandy) and the Planets (Ormandy). On my drive home from work there was a record shop in Lewes which had a whole Sony Essential Classics section, so I often stopped off there on my way home. Also, this one:
(http://)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Roasted Swan on September 23, 2020, 05:50:43 AM
I share a number of Sarge and Roasted Swan's choices, including the Wagner orchestral music from the Ring, Szell's Bruckner's 3rd Symphony (still my favourite recording), Mahler, Symphony 6, that great Mitropolous and Stokowski Vaughan Williams disc and the Shostakovich 4th and 10th symphonies from Ormandy (my introduction to both works on LP) + Walton Symphony 2 (Szell) and Belshazzar's Feast (Ormandy) and the Planets (Ormandy). On my drive home from work there was a record shop in Lewes which had a whole Sony Essential Classics section, so I often stopped off there on my way home. Also, this one:
(http://)

+1 for the Copland disc which is notable for containing Previn's 1st "classical" recording - The Red Pony Suite
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Dry Brett Kavanaugh on September 23, 2020, 06:37:33 AM
I don't know the Rosen but all the others are excellent!  I would add many of the other Ormandy and Szell recordings to the point of saying you rarely go wrong with any of them.  I was listening to a couple of the Stravinsky (odd butchered Petrouska - but what there is wonderfully played) and Ravel discs and the RVW 4 from Mitropoulos (yeah I know - not strictly one of the "essential classics" series!). The playing is breath-takingly fine and the recordings - even in these early masterings - so much better than I remember from low grade 70's vinyl.  The Barenboim/Zukerman Elgar violin conc. is still one of the very finest there is.  Easily the best performance of Barenboim's first traversal of Elgar.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51vvLeMo1-L._AC_UL320_.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51Rv9kaYGQL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41VWRfpiEmL._AC_UY218_.jpg)(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61+iCMF3ejL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51emtH2kLLL._AC_UY218_.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51wyxMgWzYL._AC_UY218_.jpg)
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51ogGV4j9oL._AC_UY218_.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51ZE2SpAuYL._AC_UY218_.jpg)

+1 for Respighi, Mussorgsky, and Hindemith discs. I am curious about the Petrushka disc. I will look for it.


P.s.  Are many of these discs originally Columbia label recordings ?
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MN Dave on September 23, 2020, 07:20:02 AM
Thanks for all your replies. Surely not a clunker in the bunch.  0:)

I don't mind the cover art, and it made them easy to spot--and I went right for them. :D

Save my own, I missed any mention of the Beethoven/Sibelius violin concertos. :(
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Biffo on September 23, 2020, 07:35:43 AM
Thanks for all your replies. Surely not a clunker in the bunch.  0:)

I don't mind the cover art, and it made them easy to spot--and I went right for them. :D

Save my own, I missed any mention of the Beethoven/Sibelius violin concertos. :(

I have the Beethoven from Isaac Stern/Bernstein/NYPO and the Sibelius from Zino Francescatti/Bernstein/NYPO but they are part of Sony box sets. Presumably they were issued as single LPs at some point. The Sibelius comes with its original cover; it was coupled with the Bruch concerto and conducted by Thomas Schippers.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vandermolen on September 23, 2020, 08:03:46 AM
+1 for the Copland disc which is notable for containing Previn's 1st "classical" recording - The Red Pony Suite
I didn't realise that about Previn. I had the LP as well. The Copland Sony CD disc also includes my favourite 'Lincoln Portrait'.
(http://)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MN Dave on September 23, 2020, 08:31:04 AM
I have the Beethoven from Isaac Stern/Bernstein/NYPO and the Sibelius from Zino Francescatti/Bernstein/NYPO but they are part of Sony box sets. Presumably they were issued as single LPs at some point. The Sibelius comes with its original cover; it was coupled with the Bruch concerto and conducted by Thomas Schippers.

Here's the cover art for anyone who wants to see it. Many of you probably don't!  :laugh:

Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Roasted Swan on September 23, 2020, 08:50:01 AM
+1 for Respighi, Mussorgsky, and Hindemith discs. I am curious about the Petrushka disc. I will look for it.


P.s.  Are many of these discs originally Columbia label recordings ?

The Petrushka is quite odd as most but not all of the full score is there and the version is called "suite".  But as far as I know Stravinsky never sanctioned one.  I seem to remember an old Stokowski/Berlin PO disc that also had a Petrushka "suite" on it back in CFP LP days.  EDIT:  I remembered this appears in the EMI Stokowski "Icon" box - its about half the score at 17 minutes whereas Ormandy is nearer to 3/4 at around 27 minutes - hardly seems worth cutting 7 minutes (unless it was to fit it on one side of an LP?)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vandermolen on September 23, 2020, 09:09:58 AM
+1 for Respighi, Mussorgsky, and Hindemith discs. I am curious about the Petrushka disc. I will look for it.


P.s.  Are many of these discs originally Columbia label recordings ?
I think that many of them are probably originally CBS recordings.

+1 for Respighi's Church Windows and the Walton Hindemith Variations disc.

Here are three more that I enjoyed v much. Especially the Duruflé performance:
(http://[img][img])
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Jo498 on September 23, 2020, 09:40:49 AM
Almost all are CBS (or the Epic sublabel) recordings. Maybe a few already from Sony, but I think these more recent ones got onto later cheapo series like "Esprit".
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Dry Brett Kavanaugh on September 23, 2020, 11:57:56 AM
I think that many of them are probably originally CBS recordings.

+1 for Respighi's Church Windows and the Walton Hindemith Variations disc.

Here are three more that I enjoyed v much. Especially the Duruflé performance:
(http://[img][img])

Our favorite boy at GMG, David Hurwitz, has something to say about the Songs of Auvergne. 😄😄😄

https://youtu.be/0XYuSAB10yk
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: MN Dave on September 23, 2020, 12:05:16 PM
Our favorite boy at GMG, David Hurwitz, has something to say about the Songs of Auvergne. 😄😄😄

https://youtu.be/0XYuSAB10yk

He's all we have. Is anyone else doing CD reviews on YouTube for classical music?
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Dry Brett Kavanaugh on September 23, 2020, 12:33:55 PM
He's all we have. Is anyone else doing CD reviews on YouTube for classical music?

Doesn’t matter to him. It evinces his genius. 😆😆
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Holden on September 23, 2020, 11:43:52 PM
I have a number of what are now Sony CDs. They include Rudolf Serkin, Bruno Walter, Murray Perahia, Leonard Bernstein, etc but they aren't Essential Classics. Off the top of my head I have:

Carmina Burana - Ormandy
Dvorak Slavonic Dances - Szell
Spanish Guitar Music - John Williams
Bach Organ works - E Power Biggs
Dvorak - String Quartet and American piano quintet - Juilliard/Firkusny
Beethoven - Overtures - Szell (this wasn't on the website posted by MN Dave)
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: aukhawk on September 26, 2020, 01:43:17 AM
Quote
P.s.  Are many of these discs originally Columbia label recordings ?

I think that many of them are probably originally CBS recordings.

And a few RCA (eg Anner Bylsma).
I say 'CBS' too because here in the UK Columbia is/was a completely different label, at least in the stereo era.  The US and UK Columbia brands separated for good in 1931, according to Wikipedia.  As a kid I might actually have had some 'ambiguous' Columbia 78s dating from before that!
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Jo498 on September 26, 2020, 04:22:38 AM
I am not sure if it was also on essential classics but the Beethoven Ouvertures with Szell (and also some Haydn and Mozart symphonies) were on an even cheaper series that had no booklets to speak of. "Gala" and maybe also a different name (or a different name in some countries).
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Roasted Swan on October 01, 2020, 09:30:58 AM
Prompted by this thread I've just received a couple of new (for me) "Essential Classics"

(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/hlEAAOSw0e9Uv8zr/s-l400.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/416ZFCCCY9L.jpg)

looking forward to hearing both of them!  Prompted (again!) by this discussion I listened to this disc;

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81pofyr9CmL._AC_SY355_.jpg)

OMG - the playing is SENSATIONAL - I'd forgotten just how good.  Superb soloist in Sheherazade and the brass just blaze in the Russian Easter Festival Overture.  OK the sound is a bit "flat" as a recording and plenty of tape hiss too but what a performance!!  So easy to ignore "standard" rep and forget how good it is........
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: vandermolen on October 01, 2020, 10:01:01 AM
Prompted by this thread I've just received a couple of new (for me) "Essential Classics"

(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/hlEAAOSw0e9Uv8zr/s-l400.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/416ZFCCCY9L.jpg)

looking forward to hearing both of them!  Prompted (again!) by this discussion I listened to this disc;

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81pofyr9CmL._AC_SY355_.jpg)

OMG - the playing is SENSATIONAL - I'd forgotten just how good.  Superb soloist in Sheherazade and the brass just blaze in the Russian Easter Festival Overture.  OK the sound is a bit "flat" as a recording and plenty of tape hiss too but what a performance!!  So easy to ignore "standard" rep and forget how good it is........
I love the Russian Easter Festival Overture and that looks like a fabulous disc.
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: Roasted Swan on October 08, 2020, 02:11:43 PM
Partly prompted by this thread and one elsewhere about Ibert I picked up this disc a few days ago cheap.....

(https://cdn-s3.allmusic.com/release-covers/500/0002/133/0002133364.jpg)

The Divertissement is stunningly played but perhaps just a little aggressive as opposed to witty?  Escales is much better and the lovely Faure works (in part shared with Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia) also very good.  But the highlight is a razor-edged Roussel Bacchus & Ariadne suite.  I'd forgotten what an impressive work this is.  All in all another feather in the Ormandy cap.......
Title: Re: Sony Essential Classics
Post by: deprofundis on October 18, 2020, 07:59:49 PM
My favorite sony essential are perhaps there Gesualdo and Pierre Rampal for me!  8)