Author Topic: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches  (Read 11730 times)

jsaliga

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I have to admit that I really like boxed sets...if they are done right.  I'm not a fan of sets that collect whatever crappy sounding recordings the producers can get their hands on so they can make a fast buck.  I occasoinally buy cheap boxed sets from labels such as Proper Box.  But I very much perfer boxed sets that have some care and thought put into the production even if it drives up the price.

I suppose that is why I am such an staunch supporter of Mosaic Records.  When they reissue vintage jazz recordings they do what they can to obtain the best possible source.  For 78 era records that usually means the original metal parts.  For LP era recordings that means going to the original master tapes.  They also give you a very nice booklet with essays about the artists and music being covered and complete discographical notes.  Unless their quality starts to taper off I will be a loyal Mosaic customer for life.  I also have a few vinyl boxed sets that are spectacular, like the Complete Bill Evans Riverside recordings issued on 180g 45RPM vinyl.  That set was about $600 and worth every penny.

But with every boxed set of music I have ever bought there are usually compromises made of one sort or another.  I've often wondered what a cost-is-no-object boxed set of music would look like.  I recently got my answer when I was fortunate enough to buy a used Rubinstein Collection boxed set on eBay, which contains practically the entire recorded legacy of pianist Arthur Rubinstein.  It was produced by RCA/BMG in 1999, before the label was acquired by Sony.





This set is absolutely mamoth in scope.  Tipping the scales at almost 40 lbs, RCA spared no expense in assembling the music that went into this lavishly appointed boxed set.  It includes everything that Rubinstein recorded for RCA Victor.  It also includes Rubinstein's recordings on the HMV label, which RCA licensed from EMI for inclusion in this set.  There are 94 CDs in all collected into 84 volumes (some volumes contain two CDs).  The recordings in The Rubinstein Collection span from 1929 to his final recording and public performance in 1976.  They also cover the vast majority of the piano repertiore.  Rubinstein was adept with the piano music of most composers, but had a special affinty with Chopin and particularly Brahms (Johannes Brahms passed away when Rubinstein was 10 years old).  There are many recordings in the set that feature these two composers.  There are also many performances of works from Beethoven, Schumann, Grieg, Schubert, Dvorak, Debussy, Ravel, Mozart, Haydn, Falla, Liszt, Franck, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky...the list goes on and on.





The packaging presents this music as a shrine to Rubinstein's legacy.  You will find no cheap jewel cases here.  The box is constructed of heavy press board that is clothbound and made to last.  Each volume of music is presented in a hard cover laminated booklet with extensive liner notes or mini essays about the recordings.







How does it sound?  Well there's a lot of music here spanning almost 50 years of recording history.  The early recordings sound surprisingly good given the sources, and are likely to sound better than even the best 78 shellac records you could hope to find of this music.  Rubinstein was a daring and bold pianist in his youth.  I'm listening to the first disc in the set right now, a 1929 recording of Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2.  It lacks the full bodied holosonic presence of a modern recording, to be sure.  But it is great listening nevertheless.  Moving further forward into the 78 era to the early 1940s, the sound improves as microphones and recording techniques improved.  Noise is reduced.  Dynamic range and resolution improves.  Now I am listening to a 1942 recording of Greig's Piano Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The sound is splendid.  And of course, recordings laid down on analog tape starting in the early 1950s has audiophile quality sound.  In each case, the producers at RCA/BMG used the best source available and each recording was lovingly remastered for this special release.

At an original retail price of $1,600 there were only 200 of these magnificent sets made.  RCA/BMG decided that there would be no more produced after the initial production run of 200 sold out because sales were so slow.  Once sold out some sets started to show up on eBay for between $2K and $4K.  I have had my eye on this for quite some time, but I wasn't willing to pay silly money to land one.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to secure this set for the price of $1,000.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that nearly got away from me.

--Jerome
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 06:47:59 PM by jsaliga »

Offline etcarroll

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 05:45:40 PM »
$1k - now that's a collection! :shock:
"...if you want to enjoy your gear, don't listen to anything that might be better."

Offline Barry (NJ)

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 06:56:43 PM »
Nice...
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Offline tmazz

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 07:22:13 PM »
$1k - now that's a collection! :shock:

I'd be sleeping in the garage for sure.  :rofl:

Enjoy!
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jsaliga

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 04:48:48 AM »
I'd be sleeping in the garage for sure.  :rofl:

Enjoy!

What makes you think that isn't where I spent my night?  ;)

Seriously, my wife stopped scrutinizing my music purchases years ago.  We've been married for 26 years, so she has seen practically every record, CD, tape, and piece of gear I have ever owned come through the front door (I never resorted to sneaking stuff in through the back....though the thought did cross my mind a few times).  She's really been a good sport through it all.

--Jerome

jsaliga

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 03:06:14 PM »
Sony Masterworks has released a massive Rubinstein boxed set, Arthur Rubinstein: The Complete Album Collection

http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Rubinstein-Complete-Album-Collection/dp/B005G0ETV0/ref=pd_sim_m_1

This set contains all of the music issued by RCA in the long out of print Rubinstein Collection set reviewed in this thread, and also includes some new, previously unissued live recital material.  This is available for only $271.74 on Amazon.com.

If any of you are interested I strongly suggest that you order now and not miss your chance.

--Jerome

Offline richidoo

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 03:41:27 PM »
I missed this the first time around Looks awesome, thanks for sharing, Jerome.

Offline tmazz

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 06:54:15 PM »
Sony Masterworks has released a massive Rubinstein boxed set, Arthur Rubinstein: The Complete Album Collection

http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Rubinstein-Complete-Album-Collection/dp/B005G0ETV0/ref=pd_sim_m_1

This set contains all of the music issued by RCA in the long out of print Rubinstein Collection set reviewed in this thread, and also includes some new, previously unissued live recital material.  This is available for only $271.74 on Amazon.com.

If any of you are interested I strongly suggest that you order now and not miss your chance.

--Jerome

Sony is doing a real nice job issuing box sets from the catalogs they have acquired lately, like the Perfect Jazz, Perfect Miles Davis and RCA Living Stereo Collections. While it contains the same music this new Rubinstein set is certainly not the same at the one you got Jerome. Your set had absolutely gorgeous packaging and cases with all kinds of information in each of the bound book type CD cases. From what I can see from the pictures this set looks more like the jazz sets where the CDs we packaged in the mini-LP cardboard slipcases. While they are cute the only contains the info that was on the outside of the LP cover and even that requires a magnifying glass to read since it was shrunk down from 12x12 to 5x5 inches. However on the plus side the CDs in the jazz sets did have very nice SQ and the sets take up a ridiculously small amount of shelf space for a 25 CD collection. So if you are just interested in the music these are really nice sets, and the price is right.
Remember, it's all about the music........

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jsaliga

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 08:25:26 AM »
While it contains the same music this new Rubinstein set is certainly not the same at the one you got Jerome. Your set had absolutely gorgeous packaging and cases with all kinds of information in each of the bound book type CD cases.

The thought that this release might impact the collector value of the set I have never crossed my mind and I'm not really concerned about it.  The masters used for this new set are sourced from the same 1999 remasters used for the set that I have...so anyone who buys it can be sure they are getting the best quality sound for these recordings that's available.

I just wanted to put the information out there so anyone who missed the 1999 set gets a chance at this one.  Sony definitely deserves some praise for issuing the music, but it also deserves a little criticism.  Both the Glen Gould and Jascha Heifetz complete sets were only available for about 6 months or so before they were discontinued.  I bought the Heifetz set but the Gould set was already gone by the time I found out about it.  And that really is the issue...very little is done to promote these releases and people can't buy what they don't know is available.

--Jerome

Offline wayne

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2016, 10:51:54 AM »
I purchased this in 1999, after reading about it in the SF Chronicle. I reached out to the Tower Records on Columbus, in SF, and they had a few in stock. I was prepared to pay the $1,600 list price but when I got to Tower to pick it up, the store employee said, "This is overpriced, I'm going to give you a discount." I thanked him and was super pleased when he took the price down to $1,000.

What a treat this collection has been! The only problem I've had with the packaging is that the book no longer fits into the slot provided. I'm okay with that, as I don't plan on selling it. It has been almost 17 years now of continual discovery of amazing music. I highly recommend this box set!

Offline tmazz

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Re: The Rubinstein Collection - An Embarassment of Musical Riches
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2016, 11:29:36 AM »
Sony Masterworks has released a massive Rubinstein boxed set, Arthur Rubinstein: The Complete Album Collection

http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Rubinstein-Complete-Album-Collection/dp/B005G0ETV0/ref=pd_sim_m_1

This set contains all of the music issued by RCA in the long out of print Rubinstein Collection set reviewed in this thread, and also includes some new, previously unissued live recital material.  This is available for only $271.74 on Amazon.com.

If any of you are interested I strongly suggest that you order now and not miss your chance.

--Jerome

Just for kicks I clicked on the Amazon link in this post and just as I would have expected (and Jerome warned), since this post was put up in 2012 the Rubinstein collection he ref3ered to as gone out of print and new copies are selling on ebay for close to $700.

This just reinforces what I have learned many times over my time in this hobby... You Snooze, You lose.  :shock:
Remember, it's all about the music........

Nola Boxers
Sunfire True SW Super Jr (2)
McIntosh MC 275
ARC SP-9
VPI HW-19 Mk IV/SDS/SME IV/Sumiko Blue Pt. Special
Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC/Bluesound Node/Pioneer DV 563A
DigiBuss/TWL PC/MIT Cable