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Yehudi Menuhin: The Great EMI Recordings
Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin: The Great EMI Recordings
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1
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  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #40
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #41
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This 50-CD set features Sir Yehudi Menuhin's most celebrated EMI recordings, made during his extraordinary 70-year exclusive recording relationship with the company. Includes works by composers such as Bach, Berg, Beethove...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Yehudi Menuhin
Title: Yehudi Menuhin: The Great EMI Recordings
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Original Release Date: 1/1/2009
Re-Release Date: 4/21/2009
Album Type: Box set
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 51
SwapaCD Credits: 51
UPCs: 400000014975, 5099926413129


Album Description
This 50-CD set features Sir Yehudi Menuhin's most celebrated EMI recordings, made during his extraordinary 70-year exclusive recording relationship with the company. Includes works by composers such as Bach, Berg, Beethoven, Bartók, Brahms, Dvoøák, Enescu, Handel, Lalo, Mozart, Paganini, Sibelius, Vivaldi, and more! Also includes a bonus interview CD, entitled Yehudi Menuhin: Highlights and Recollections of a Legendary Life.

CD Reviews

Menuhin Boxed Set
Joseph Reichmann | Los Angeles | 04/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The box contains 50 discs, all with the great violinist, Yehudi Menuhin. Ten of the discs were recorded in the 1930s while Menuhin was in his teens. The sound on these recordings is not up to present standards but is acceptable. The remaining 40 discs were mostly recorded in the 1950s and 1960s with very good sound quality.
The set includes a booklet which takes 50 pages to just list the the names of the compositions, artists, and playing times. There is no discussion of the compositions.
The number of compositions is too numerous to mention all of them here. There are many short compositions, but the heart of the set is the violin concertos (the only major one that is missing is the Tchaikovsky). Here is a quick rundown of the concerto contents: Bach, 6 discs, including 2 discs of the marvelous 30s recording of the complete Partitas and Sonatas; Beethoven, 7 discs with four!!! versions of the concerto and three discs of the complete violin sonatas; Bartok; Berg; Berkeley; Berlioz, Harold in Italy (viola); Bloch; Brahms, two versions of the concerto plus the concerto for cello and violin; Bruch, two versons; Dvorak; Elgar (with Elgar conducting); Handel: Haydn; Lalo, Symphonie Espagnol, two versions; Mendelssohn; four !!! versions; Mozart; Nielson; Paganini, two versions of the first plus one of the second; Panufik; Saint-Saens; Sibelius; Vieuxtemps; Vivaldi, including the Four Seasons; Walton; and Williamson.
Because of the age of these recordings, none of them would be the first choice of any current classical music reviewer. But, Menuhin's performances are all first rate and no other violinist has recorded with the tone and intensity of which he was capable (listen to the Bruch and Paganini). Amazon is currently offering the set for $68. That comes to about $1.40 per disc!!! This is an amazing bargain that will not last long. Get your box before they're sold out.
Fantastic set, terrific bargain! But audiophiles, look twice
T. Fisher | 09/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am extremely happy I got this big box of Yehudi Menuhin performances. The music is absolutely fantastic. However, audiophiles should be aware that a full 20 of the 50 music CDs in this set are mono recordings. Sound quality is not the strong suit of many of these older discs. However, many others really do sound terrific for mono -- as good as mono can sound. They have been cleaned up well. I haven't yet been distracted by loud hisses or record needle noise.

The bulk of the recordings are from the 1950s through 1970s, and there are even a couple from the 1980s. The sound is very nice indeed on the later recordings.

(Almost) all the major repertoire violin concertos are here, many in multiple versions that show how Menuhin's approach developed over time. I really enjoy putting on different versions of the Beethoven concerto, for example, they each have something different to offer. Apart from the Beethoven and the Mendelssohn, with four versions each, the duplication of works on this set is really not too bad at all, although there is some.

The set includes Menuhin's 1932 recording of the Elgar concerto with Elgar conducting. Again, the sound suffers a bit, but it really has been cleaned up quite well and it is an exciting performance. The set also includes a nice complete cycle of Mozart's five violin concertos from the early 1960s.

Another historical highlight is the Beethoven concerto from 1947 with Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Menuhin's agreement to appear with Furtwängler was an incredibly important gesture that perhaps more than any other single event helped "rehabilitate" the conductor's image after WWII, when he was under tremendous fire for having stayed in Germany to direct the Berlin Philharmonic under the Nazis. Menuhin worked frequently with Furtwängler after that, and this set includes a second Beethoven concerto and Romances 1 and 2 from 1953, a Brahms concerto from 1949, and a Mendelssohn concerto from 1952.

The set includes plenty of Sir Adrian Boult as conductor (of Bruch, Berkeley, Williamson, Vaughan Williams, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius). Also a great Berg concerto with Pierre Boulez conducting in 1968.

The selection of chamber works is extensive, including all the Beethoven violin sonatas, all the Bach sonatas and partitas (from 1935), and a wide range of other sonatas, trios and the two Brahms string sextets. Accompanying him on a large number of sonatas is his sister, Hephzibah Menuhin.

The last musical disc in the set are his terrific jazz recordings with Stéphane Grappelli from the mid-1970s, featuring above all tunes by Gershwin and Grappelli.

Finally, I love documentaries as well, so I was very pleased with the "bonus" 51st disc, which contains a musical biography of Menuhin based on interviews conducted with him in 1995.

If you love violin works, this set is for you! Unless you are a real stickler for the latest in sound technology. If you have even a medium tolerance for mono and the "muted" sound of some older recordings, I'm sure you'll enjoy the set. Even if you only listened to the 30 stereo discs, however, it still might be worthwhile to get this set, especially at the $62 price effective so far during much of September 2009.

There are two good sources for the track listing. One is a customer image submitted to Amazon on this page, which contains a legible track listing taken from the side of the box. Combine that with a track list on the EMI Classics website that contains remastering information -- but sadly not the names of the works or the composers.
You Can't Go Wrong With This 50-CD Collection
Johannes Climacus | Beverly, Massachusetts | 10/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's ironic that the Twilight of the CD Era should coincide with the Age of the Bargain Box. But so it is. EMI is clearly leading the way with huge omnibus collections devoted to some of the more significant figures from this company's extensive roster.

Yehudi Menuhin certainly qualifies for this status. It is therefore fitting that EMI should release this 50-CD box on the tenth anniversary of his death. Though not the complete recorded ouvre of Menuhin, this set nevertheless represents the most extensive reissue of his work to date. It is also an astonishing bargain, particularly at current Amazon and Amazon affiliate prices. Since these prices are probably promotional, I would not delay in obtaining this box if you have sufficient interest in Menuhin and the remarkably diverse repertoire included herein.

Over the years I have owned and enjoyed many of these recordings, on vinyl disc, and later on CD. Though I haven't yet heard any of the CDs in this box (having just placed my order), I'm assuming that the remasterings are either the same, or not appreciably different, than those with which I am already familiar. If so, then I can vouch for the high quality of the sonics and digital transfers--from monaural (including 78-rpm), stereo and early digital sources which have always sounded good.

Among the treasures to be found here is the set of Bach *Sonatas and Partitas* that virtually launched Menuhin's international career in the 1930's, two historically and musically invaluable Beethoven Violin Conterto recordings under Furtwängler (one live, one studio), an early recording of the Elgar Concerto (with the composer conducting), a superb Brahms concerto with the BPO and Kempe from 1957 (so much warmer and more engaging than the overpraised Heifetz/Reiner from roughly the same period), an ever-fresh, and intensely satisfying, cycle of Mozart concerti with the Bath Festival Orchestra from the early Sixties (which includes two "spurious" but richly enjoyable works), some stylishly conceived and gracefully executed chamber repertoire from the Baroque period (Purcell, Corelli, Handel), two sumptuously played Brahms Sextets, enlivening jazz collaborations with Stephane Grappelli--the list could (and does!) go on and on.

The selection of repertoire for this collection reflects a discerning attempt to maximize diversity of styles and periods while showcasing Menuhin's best work in the studio. I was delighted to discover that a sizeable amount of unusual or at least unhakneyed repertoire has been included, such as works for violin and orchestra by Berlioz, Nielsen, Bloch, Berg, Bartok, Panufnik, Williamson, Tippett, chamber music by Spohr, Chausson, Poulenc, Enescu, Bartok, Boulanger, --along with predictable concert fare such as multiple versions of the standard concerti by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Bruch and Paganini (but, curiously, no Tchaikovsky). I was also pleased that the editors found so much room for chamber music; for, in addition to the works cited above, we are also given the complete Beethoven violin-piano sonatas (some in alternate versions), all of Schubert's piano trios as well as two of his duos, Brahms's Horn Trio, a smattering of duo sonatas by Mozart, Handel, Prokofiev (but, curiously none by Bach, whose cycle of six violin-harpsichord sonatas Menuhin recorded twice). Then there is the blooming, buzzing swarm of encore pieces by Kreisler, Dinicu, Sarasate, etc. Three works for solo viola and orchestra are also included (the "reconstructed" Bartok Concerto, the Walton Concerto and Berlioz' *Harold in Italy"), to remind us that Menuhin's versatility extended to instruments as well as repertoire.

Most of the works with orchestra feature world-class orchestras (in some cases ad hoc ensembles hand-picked by Menuhin himself) and first-rate conductors such as Furtwängler, Enescu, Dorati, Silvestri, Kempe, Boult, Boulez, Colin Davis, Fistoulari, Kurz, Wøldike, Tippett and Walton (the latter two in their own music). Accompanists include such distinguished figures as Kentner, Balsam, Enescu, Malcolm, and two members of Menuhin's family (Hephzibah and Jeremy)--among other oustanding collaborators.

Given such a dazzling array of composers, periods, styles, idioms and such a distinguished roster of collaborators, it may seem curmudgeonly to entertain any complaints. Perhaps my sole complaint is that even this sumptuous feast could have been a bit more generous; for by reducing the multiple versions of standard repertoire concerti, more of Menuhin's work as a conductor and as a chamber musician could have been offered. For instance: Do we really need four Beethoven concerti (two with the same conductor--albeit a maestro of great historical significance), together with multiple offerings of his Romances? Do we really need even one version of Vivaldi's *Four Seasons*? Instead, could we have been given at least one of those Bach duo-sonata cycles, more Handel, or perhaps some superb Menuhin-led Mozart symphony recordings with the Sinfonia Varsovia? Thankful though one must be for such bounty, one does wonder about such duplication of standard repertoire in a collection which aspires to be maximally representative, though by no means comprehensive.

What about Menuhin's playing? On the evidence of the many recordings I have heard over the years, it is always engagingly musical and warmly humane, if sometimes technically fallible. It is well known that Menuhin's technical facility began to decline fairly early in his career, so that by the 1950's his bowing could, on occasion, be erratic and his intonation likewise unreliable. But why should this bother us any more than the technical lapses and deficiencies of some great pianists? Pianophiles readily put up with glaring inconsistencies of pulse and rhythm from Schnabel, huge swaths of missed and wrong notes from Cortot, transcendental showmanship hiding a multitude of sins from Horowitz, glaring memory lapses from Richter. Indeed, few listeners complain about such pianistic shortcomings when interpretive insights are so rewarding; why, then, is Menuhin's equally searching artistry impugned on account of technical lapses no more or less serious than those committed by the aforementioned pianistic giants? If such criticism would be condescending in the case of Sviatoslav Richter (who was often well below form technically in both concert and recording), why would it be any less egregious in the case of Yehudi Menuhin?

Enough said. Given the the ridiculously low price, ambitious collectors cannot afford to pass up this remarkably capacious retrospective of a unique, and uniquely lovable, figure in the musical firmament of the Twentieth Century. Listen beyond the flaws and you will hear the musical meditations of a great-souled man."