As box sets go, they don’t come much bigger, better and bargain-priced than this. 170 CDs representing the entire lifetime works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, this collection was put together to commemorate, in 2006, the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 1756.
There’s obviously insufficient space here to discuss the merits of each CD, suffice to say I have absolutely no criticism of the recordings and performances of these works. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to savour the complete musical output of one of history’s most famous composers.
To summarise the collection, the CDs are packaged into paper sleeves (each one showing full track details, orchestra, conductor, soloist, recording date etc) and presented in a flip-top cardboard box measuring only 30cm wide. The 9 sections are:
1. (11 CDs) Symphonies – all 41 of them are recent (2001-2002) recordings played by the Mozart Akademie Amsterdam.
2. (18 CDs) Concertos – of particular note are the Derek Han concertos for piano.
3. (23 CDs) Serenades/divertimenti/dances – including of course serenade in G major `Eine kleine Nachtmusik’.
4. (16 CDs) Chamber music – violin sonatas, church sonatas. Some lesser-known works in this section.
5. (13 CDs) String ensembles – including duos, trios, quartets and quintets.
6. (15 CDs) Keyboard works – this time piano sonatas, harpsichord and organ works.
7. (21 CDs) Sacred works – a big section of requiems, chants, masses, and Freemason music (how many have got THAT on CD ?!)
8. (9 CDs) Concert arias, songs and canons, again there are some lesser-known Mozart works here.
9. (44 CDs) Operas – whopping section containing all of Mozart’s 19 operas.
Included also is a PC format CD with information on Mozart’s life, biographies of the performers/orchestras/conductors, comments on each CD and libretti (words) to some of the vocal works. Careful if you print it out though, it’s over 200 pages long.
Probably one of the most comprehensive box sets ever produced.