Customer Reviews for: Mercury Living Presence - The Collector's Edition [50-CD Set]

10 Reviews in Total
5 Star: 9 Reviews
4 Star: 0 Reviews
3 Star: 1 Review
2 Star: 0 Reviews
1 Star: 0 Reviews

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5.0 Stars (10 Reviews)

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 Living Presence Collection October 5, 2012
By William P. (Forest Hills, NY) -- See All My Reviews
Having a handfull of these fantastic recording/performances has been a pleasure thru the years. I am very pleased with this collection and hoping there will be more Report Abuse

 Living Presence Lives Again April 20, 2012
By W. Mitchell (Columbus, OH) -- See All My Reviews
The Mercury Living Presence story does not need to be repeated here. With 50 albums and a bonus disc, this is a generous sampling of the Mercury catalog from its inception. I believe that all of the conductors under the Mercury umbrella are represented here as well as performers. The only glaring lack is the remarkable performance of Marcel Dupre at St. Thomas Church, NYC, the recording that inspired me to switch from piano to organ in the late 1950's. Most performances are very good as are most recordings although some have more of the Mercury brightness than others. All in all this is a very welcome release and a tremendous value. Get it! Report Abuse

 Nice Set. April 15, 2012
By J. Colliier (Gaithersburg, MD) -- See All My Reviews
Mercury selected some of their top performances for this set. It is s good set to have. Report Abuse

 A Wealth of Classical Recordings April 15, 2012
By Gary Mitchell (Independence, KS) -- See All My Reviews
What's not to like about these generously filled, spectacularly recorded, variously selected classics from Mercury? Cannons in the "1812" Overture, great guitar music, Sousa band music (and that's just a start to the wind riches), great orchestral music conducted by Paul Paray (no one has ever done a better job with Suppe overtures) and Antal Dorati (the Rite of Spring is savage!). There are Brahms and Dvorak dances, concertos played by Bachauer and Szyrng, and even a recording of foot-stomping balalaika music not to be missed. The sound doesn't show its age either, except for the two monaural recordings and the superb playing makes up for the sonics. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed in the wealth of listening pleasure made available in these very inexpensive recordings. My only complaint is that the great liner notes I enjoyed on the lps are gone. Those I had were well written and very informative. Still, the music is mostly quite familiar and main stream. Don't hesitate to give this set a listen. Report Abuse

 Living Presence Lives April 14, 2012
By William Stribling (New York, NY) -- See All My Reviews
I am still enjoying the beauty of sound and musical art these
exceptional recordings have held for me since the 1950's when
along with Westminster Records these Mercurys were always my
favorites. Gorgeous - highly recommend that everyone check them out.
Superb selection!
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 Own a piece of recording history April 5, 2012
By G. MARTYNUK (New York, NY) -- See All My Reviews
I just received this set, a memento to a philosophy in recording when the acoustic of the hall was all important, providing a natural, live exciting event. I've only played the fun and fancy Paul Paray overtures, and again, the sound is absolutely spectacular but natural, and the orchestra playing is world class. Looking forward to the rest. It's important to note that these were recorded at a time when classical music releases were awaited with great anticipation, eagerly reviewed by a good number of music magazines, with a good amount of standard repertoire not yet recorded. I'm very fond of booklets with recording information, but this one has tons of typos. Too fast to the printer? Report Abuse

 Essential collection March 31, 2012
By D. Daman (Poulsbo, WA) -- See All My Reviews
This box set makes available a collection of great music and terrific performances. The recordings are the best from their time and some are absolutely stunning. Report Abuse

 a collectors must have March 30, 2012
By d. abrahams (palm bay, FL) -- See All My Reviews
brings back a lot of memories
when stereo was in its infancy
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 The best sounding pre-digital boxed set - and a g March 9, 2012
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) -- See All My Reviews
Classical audiophiles over a certain age will fondly remember Mercury Living Classics LPs. I am not part of that generation, but I vividly recall putting Byron Janis' LP on the turntable ("recorded on 35MM magnetic film", the label trumpeted) back in the 1980s. I put my headphones on, and was blown away, thinking "What, this was recorded in the 1960s? How did they get it to sound this great?"

"Simplicity is wisdom" is a succinct way to describe Mercury's approach to recording. Build top notch recording equipment, select the right microphone, find the best placement - and get out of the way while the artists do their thing. To an extent, this was also the approach used by RCA during their Living Stereo heyday. Mercury went RCA one better by hauling a customized truck with their recording equipment wherever they went - even to Moscow. But by the time Mercury had stopped making records, RCA had lost its way in the confusion of multi-miking, and it wasn't until the early digital era that Telarc resurrected Mercury's guiding principles. This is, on balance, the best sounding pre-digital boxed set you're going to hear, and some of these recordings still sound better than their digital descendants.

By hiring second tier (not second rate) orchestras and soloists who were not household names - but were willing to work harder than their higher priced counterparts - Mercury was able to obtain excellent results on a budget. Mercury quickly built a stable of artists including conductors Howard Hanson (also a composer) and Antal Dorati, pianists Byron Janis and Gina Bachauer, violinist Henryk Szeryng, and cellist Janos Starker. Janis and Szeryng had already recorded for RCA, but were attracted to Mercury by the opportunity to pick which repertoire to record, rather than having it assigned to them by A & R.

Much of that repertoire leans toward the middle-brow. There is not one Beethoven or Brahms symphony here, and this is not the set for those who rely on Bruckner and Mahler for their daily sustenance. There are established masterwork staples, such as Bach's Suites for Solo Cello, Beethoven's 4th and 5th Piano Concertos, and the Brahms Violin Concerto. Still, there's a lot of worthy off the beaten track music to be heard here, and good number of works that became popular thanks to these pioneering recordings. Although Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker was a well-known ballet, this was the first recording of the complete score. Often, the program concepts showed an imagination seldom seen on the big labels: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit with Bachauer at the piano and Sir John Gielgud reciting the accompanying poems; Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture complete with cannons - de riguer today but which was seldom done at the time; music from the American Civil war, and good old Balalaika favorites.

I won't go into detail about these performances except to note that most show an inspiration seldom heard on the big labels. Although recorded under studio conditions, many sound like live performances caught on the fly. In many ways, these are the kinds of performances we might have heard if advanced recording technology existed in the 78RPM era.

The first few discs are in monaural sound - the best of its kind I've ever heard. Some may quibble at the inclusion of mono recordings, but it's fitting since the Living Presence name was coined by a music critic who reviewed these early recordings.

A short bonus disc featuring an interview with producer Wilma Cozart Fine and excerpts from various recordings is included. The set, which features the original LP front covers, comes with a generous and informative booklet. Given the amount of interest in this set, I am hopeful there will be a second set - and I will definitely buy it.
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