Recorded between 1989 and 2004, the Hagen Quartet's recordings of Mozart's complete music for string quartet is clearly the finest set of the works released in the early digital age. For one thing, because the collection includes not only the 23 canonical string quartets but also the three early Divertimenti for string quartet, the five Fugues from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier arranged by Mozart, and the late Adagio and Fugue in C minor, their set really is the complete music for string quartet.
This series of performances dates from between 1966 (when the six quartets Nos. 14-19 dedicated to Haydn were recorded) to 1973 and was rightly saluted on its completion as a fine achievement. The playing of the Quartetto Italiano has a freshness, range and subtlety that vividly realizes the music in all its variety, while technical problems seem to have been solved so that the music-making can be both spontaneous-sounding and thoughtful throughout.
This is the kind of package which represents the best of the Philips Classics Duo series. Slightly older recordings, but in beautiful, clear, warm analogue sound; artists of the old school and the first rank; a compilation of potentially neglected music made available absurdly cheaply in attractive packaging with high production values and intelligent notes; what's not to like?
The Messiaen celebrations come to an overwhelming climax with this superb 32-CD set of his complete works. The limited edition, from Deutsche Grammophon, is a one-of-a kind deluxe edition. The crowning gem of this box set is a performance of the two piano Visions de l'Amen with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod, recorded in Paris in 1962.
The box set comprised 100 volumes featuring 72 pianists of the 20th century, each volume with two CDs and a booklet about the life and work of the featured pianist. The set contains a variety of composers from different eras, from Baroque to Contemporary classical.
This is a very fine set of Mozart's "complete" wind concertos, though Deutsche Grammophon does not make that claim, to their credit. The Flute Concerto #2 is not here, though that work is simply a lazy reworking of the Oboe Concerto. Some fragments for horn are also missing, though we get the Andante for Flute. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra plays very well throughout, with instrumentals carefully and beautifully balanced.