Yes, Christmas is coming. The record labels are starting to announce their big box sets for this year. As the classical music industry seeks to exploit their back catalog, they come up with plenty of ways to do so and, in many cases, to get fans to buy new editions of music they already own.
One such box is the forthcoming Leonard Bernstein Remastered box set from Sony. With 100 CDs, in the now familiar Sony big box format, with original album sleeves and a large hardcover book, this set features works composed by and conducted by the great American musician. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)
I’m a big fan of Lenny’s music, and I already have several big box sets. There’s the 80 CD Sony box set from 2014, entitled Concertos & Orchestral Works. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This contains, as it says, concertos and orchestral works (but not symphonies), and the Bernstein Symphony Edition contains the latter.. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)
There are also two sets on DG, the Bernstein Collection, volume one (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) and volume two (Amazon.com, Amazon UK).
A quick glance at the forthcoming set shows that it contains a mixture of recordings from the two previous Sony box sets. However, if each CD contains only the equivalent of one LP, then this set will have maybe half of his recordings.
If you’re a die-hard Lenny fan, you may want this set for the remasterings. If you don’t have the Sony box sets, it’s a must have, but it’s possible that you may have enough Lenny already in other sets. So, as always, with this back-catalogue exploitation, it depends on how interested you are in having everything.
In any case, it’s good to see that Sony is giving more attention to Leonard Bernstein. The current price for this set is pretty steep, but it should come down by the time of release in November. Note that at the time of this writing there’s no price on Amazon.com, but it shows at about £175 on Amazon UK. If past experience is any judge, the price will drop, and pre-ordering it means you’ll get a nice price even if it drops for just one day. (That’s how I generally buy these box sets; I order months in advance, and sometimes there’s a very big price drop, which Amazon honors.)
An aside: for some reason, the Sony Symphony Edition is selling for ludicrous prices: more than £800 and over $1,400. Anyone want to buy mine?