It’s been 25 years since the last Mozart milestone, the 200th anniversary of his death. At the time, Philips released a huge box set of his complete works on 180 CDs. But with another 25 years gone by, it’s time to exploit back catalog and compile another big box set. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)
Universal, which owns almost all the major classical labels, has done so, with a new complete edition on 200 CDs. With 240 hours of music, these CDs are chock full of Mozart’s works.
The set is a limited edition, “individually-numbered,” and contains all of Mozart’s completed works, plus 100 fragments, some arrangements Mozart made of Handel, Bach, and his own compositions, and some completions of incomplete works. Interestingly, it doesn’t just contain one version of each work, but has 30 CDs of alternative recordings, offering both “traditional” (read: modern) and period instrument recordings.
The artist list is impressive; too many names to list here, but pretty much every Mozart interpreter you’re familiar with is in this set. Interestingly, no one performer gets all the works of a certain type. For example, the piano sonatas feature Mitsuki Uchida, Alfred Brendel, Ingrid Healer, András Schiff, and others. The symphonies are led by Trevor Pinnock, Christopher Hogwood, John Eliot Gardiner, and Frans Brüggen. And all the other sets of works feature a variety of performers. (You can see the full list of works and performers in his PDF.)
This massive set comes at a price: currently £429 in the UK, but a more modest $479 in the US. Now, if you simply want to hear all the music, you could get Brilliant Classics’ more modest set, with 170 discs at 1/4 the price. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) But it’s not the same quality; the performers are B-list at best, and this forthcoming set has all the biggest names.
It’s a big buy, but if you’re a Mozart fan, you’ll probably want it. I like Mozart, but I’m not fanatic about his music. I probably have enough Mozart recordings, but if the price of this set drops between now and the release (October, 2016), I could be tempted. The interest here is the selection of performers covering about five decades, which gives you an excellent overview of how Mozart’s works can be played. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)