Here is yet another major multi-disk set of recordingsr importance to collectors. This presumably is the last in the highly regarded series of Mercury Living Presence reissues. Some of these recordings were issued some years ago on SACD, giving collector the opportunity to gear the original three-track recordings. Now we have the opportunity to hear the two-track recordings all in superb remasterings that make them sound better than ever before. Some are well-balanced mono, most are stereo. Many of these recordings have a treasured spt in recording history. They were produced by the remarkable team of Wilma Cozar, Howard Lawrence and engineer Robert Fine—all masters of their craft .In this new set, these recordings are in separate cardboard jackets and usually we view the original LP cover, whic,will bring back memories for many collectors. Each disk is well-filled, so the cover features only one of the cover illustrations. And of course we have the advantage of silent "surfaces" - no clicks, pops or surface scratches to distract from the listening experience. A handsome 132-page booklet accompanes the set giving complete recording information about each disk, with many photos. For a complee list of contents showing all major recordings, click here (REPERTORY)

I particularly welcome the return to the catalog of many recordings by Paul Pa. music director of the Detroit Symphony who from 1952 to 1964. He made numerous recordings for Mercury during his tenure, and now we have the opportunity to re-hear many of them: the Schumann symphonies, symphonies of Franck, Causson, Sibelius, Dvoak, as well as Wagner, and many French composers. Paray's Berlioz CD is stunning - one of he finest recordings I've heard of Symphonie fantastique and a blazing account of Roman Carnival Overture that brings new life o this warhorse.

There are a number of Antal Dorati recordings among the missing. Although four Tchaikovsky symphonies are here, Nos. 4 and 6 are not. One wonders why, as they were part of a complete set. In 2007, Decca issued the famous 1958 Minneapolis recording of the composer's 1812 Overture with its famous cannon and artillery (REVIEW).It is included in the new reissue, along with Capriccio Italien and Deems Talor's discussion of he cannon, but, for whatever reason, Beethoven's Wellington's Victory, so appropriate a coupling for 1812, is not, although it was on the earlier reissue. Strange, indeed. We are fortunate that producers went outside the Mercury catalog to include Dorati's magnificent 1955 Philips recording of the four Tchaikovsky orchestral suites with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. This has long been one of my favorite audio display recordings, and here it sounds better than ever.

This is a magnificent set for collectors, and the super-budget price makes it even more attractive. Don't miss it!!

R.E.B. (April 2015)