[f_minor] Complete Bach Collection Review

Pat pzumst at bluewin.ch
Fri Nov 30 12:43:07 MST 2012

Dear all

Just in case you still wonder wether that new GG Bach box set might be summet for Santa to put under the chrissie tree, wonder no more ! I bought one and thougnt I’d give you a mini-review:

Like most of you I already have most of what is in there, and I am fully aware that I have been ripped off even before I walked into that record store.  But....I...could...not...resist. They had quite a pile of them there, strangely in the Pop/Rock section under a fake chrissie tree. When I inquired in the classical department the clerk pointed to said section and said: “There, is that enough GG for ya, mate ?”.

The box has a nice blue color (but why blue ? Battleship grey I say e basta) and an embossed logo with GG’s name and the infamous chair. The material feels quite nice to hold in your hand.

But if you open the box a thick booklet appears and there the trouble starts. It is quite thick and hosts a lot of images at least I have not yet seen (still need to read the Stegemann essays), but the dimensions it has (same as the box itself) are not very ergonomical and makes long reading tiresome. 

Below that book/booklet the CDs are housed meaning that each time you want to get out a CD you have to take out the book first. Not an elegant solution, they should have separate panels. 

The CDs are made of cardboard with the open side looking down, so potentially a CD could just roll out of its sleeve. Also I must digitalize this box, if you take out one CD just for pleasure and forgot the chronological order you are in trouble and have to consult that clumsy booklet, but there is no quick reference list. Also not a good solution, but could well be me and a luxury problem.

The box contains the complete Bach recordings of GG issued during his lifetime in chronological order and original jackets. Yet there is one CD I have never seen before called The Little Bach Book (Klavierbüchlein für Anna Magdalena I think ?), which was previously mixed with other material. Eh, how come that never rang a bell with me ?

The rest is a mixed bag of previously released stuff or material that has not been in print for some time. At least to my knowledge there is *nothing* previously unreleased. Hey Sony, no sugarcugbes or candy while you’re floggin’ the ol’ ‘orse for some chrissie cash ?

Collectors who skipped the first bunch of those Sony releases with these horrible covers back in the 90s will be pleased to see that the Salzburg/Moscow recording is back in print, same for the german recording GG made in the early 70s, plus some stuff from the CBC that was scattered by random force all over these old Sony discs.

There is one CD full (?) of outtakes from the ‘55 GB Sessions which were released on that State of Wonder set methinks, sadly the CD covers do not provide timing.

The DVDs contain material that was out with the GG on TV box, the only new thing are the Montsagenon films that were only available on VHS and difficult to find.

So much for that. I will check for sound quality, although I think these have the same quality in terms of mastering than the previous few releases (I mean what is known as Loudness Wars these days), I will also check detailed track listings because I think something very significant (apart from some unreleased goodies) is missing here. 

This set is clearly intended for the Christmas market and hardcore Gouldians will not find that much new stuff, depending on what they already own. And if I wanted to be harsh I could say that it is an absolute bloody disgrace that Sony was not able to put some previously unreleased stuff like some radio docs or more outtakes on this one. Boo ! Guess their favourite piece of classical musi still is the Geldschein-Sonate...

If you are a proud owner of the GG Original Jacket Collection and its subsequent Bach release, the GG on TV box and some other loose ends you can spend your ‘unred quid somewhere else. The Montsagenon DVDs are available seperately, so are all the individual CDs with a few exeptions I think.

If you are new to GG and/or Bach, this is definetly a great intro to both artists. I know I’d want one if I were new to GG.

So got ripped, I knew in advance that I would fall into a trap (7th ‘55 GB copy by now). But I don’t care, this box has the advantage that some stuff is here that previously all over my CD collection, plus the Montsagenon DVDs. I haven’t heard some of this stuff (Moscow, Salzburg) in ages and I wanted to see the Montsagenon stuff for more than a decade now. This box has its problems (storage, design) but what really counts is the music. And that is timeless.

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