Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 05/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After getting the depressing news from Berkshire Record Outlet that the 10CD "Silvestri Collection" is no longer available (why didn't someone tell me about this company sooner?), I opted to purchase this title, "A Portrait of Constantin Silvestri," instead. Along with his EMI Artist Profile set, at least I have four discs worth of music from this wonderful conductor. (Thankfully, no material is duplicated in those two collections, and I do have some of his other performances scattered about on various titles). This two-fer features recordings originally made for EMI, now licensed through Disky Classics, by Silvestri during his tenure with the Bournemoth Symphony Orchestra in the late 1960s. (With one exception -- the 1812 Overture is with the Band of H.M. Royal Marines.) All of the performances are magical, with Scheherezade, Capriccio Italien, Sorceror's Apprentice and Night on Bald Mountain particularly special. Any fan of the conductor's should pick up this set before it goes out-of-print like the aforementioned ten-disc collection."
Mystery of the lost label
Discophage | France | 12/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Let me add a few bits of information to Mr Richman's review.
Although I had first written that the 10-CD box titled "Constantin Silvestri - the collection" which he refers to was not listed on this site, I actually found it by chance: Constantin Silvestri: Collection. It is also listed on the European sister companies under ASIN B00006I49V. It is rarely offered, and when it is, it is at 3-digit prices - whether in dollars, euros or pounds. I got mine for a very reasonable price considering, by what mistake of the seller I know not, and I'm not complaining. It is great and worth seeking on the famous auction site - but there too, it goes at steep prices: I was outbid twice. In addition to the material featured on this 2-CD set (which, like Mr Richman, I had bought before I found the 10-CD collection), it has great 20th Century classics that I wasn't even aware Silvestri had recorded (and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in the discography of 20th Century classics): Stravinsky's Symphony in three movements and Song of the Nightingale, Hindemith's Mathis der Maler-Symphony, Bartok's Divertimento, Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia (that can also be found on an EMI Tallis compilation, Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4-6; it was selected as one of the best recordings in a recent Gramophone survey, if memory serves), Shostakovich's 5th, Prokofiev's Love of Three Oranges-suite,Debussy's La Mer, Nocturnes and Faun, Ravel's Bolero. Main courses in the Romantic repertoire (other than Rimsky's Sheherazade): Franck's Symphony and Dvorak's 7th.
Disky, who used to publish those CDs, or "Disky Communications" as appears on the back covers, is a Dutch company, still in business, but (as an exchange of e-mails with a company rep confirmed) they've dropped the classical music market - they now call themselves "Disky Entertainment", and present themselves as "a publisher of various product groups, aiming at a wide audience". Well, sure enough: how wide an audience was a Silvestri collection ever going to attract? He should have conducted in a tutu.
Anyway, in the late 1990s and early 2000s they licensed a number of EMI-originated recordings that were a boon for the collector - evidently very specialized niche products. Strange people: it was done with taste, the material for reissue was obviously selected by someone who knew what he was doing (you need to be a genuine cognoscenti to go ask EMI the right to license 10 CDs worth of Silvestri, and presumably pay for it), but other than track listings (with copyright dates rather than recording dates) there was no info whatsoever, no liner notes, nothing, products for the supermarket. But hey: if my count is right they released not one, not two, not three but four different sets of Beethoven's complete symphonies: Jochum LSO (Beethoven: The Complete Symphonies (Box Set)), Sanderling Philharmonia (Kurt Sanderling: The Complete Beethoven Symphonies (Box Set)), Kempe Munich (Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies) and Cluytens Berlin (Cluytens Directs Beethoven (Box Set)). That's a severe case of overstocking the supermarket, I'd say.
Even the name of the label under which they published their CDs is ambiguous: The "2 Royal Long Players" that appears on the top right of the cover is the name of a collection of 2-CD sets, I believe (I have a few others in the series, including a Tchaikovsky compilation with Horenstein's 1967 Pathétique and Barbirolli's 1969 6th, apparently not listed on this website but available in Europe under ASIN B000027K8X, and a Sibelius-Nielsen-Brahms collection conducted by Barbirolli, Sir John Barbirolli Conducts Great Symphonies). The Silvestri collection is published under no recognizable label name, there is only at the back of the box a logo featuring "D Classics" (same logo appears at the back of these "2 Royal Long Players" collections). The reason why I first didn't find here is that the label is given as "Empire Music Group" - wonder where that came from. And I've found other releases from Disky listed under every and any name on this site and its sister companies: Disky, Disky Classics, Disky Communications, Royal, Royal Classics, Royal Opera Classics (where does the "opera" come from, in a collection emphatically called "Royal Classics", don't ask me; anything goes), Royal Long Players, Unesco Classics (they had a series called such) or even a simple "D". As a result, it is well-nigh impossible to track them down thoroughly.
One last consideration (because Mr Richman forgot to mention it): I said the taste in the choice of material; add to that that the digital remasterings were done by EMI: all these Silvestri recordings sound stupendously good, with hardly any tape hiss and great orchestral presence. This was no bootleg label.