This 53-CD set is more than the sum of its parts. While not all the performances and recordings are top-notch, the overall quality is very high and as a historical overview of a label known for its sonic as well as musical merits, it's full of treasures. The Mercury sound at its best is vivid and still sounds remarkable and many of these recordings - such as the marches, show tunes and orchestral showpieces conducted by Frederic Fennell - demonstrate this amply. But it's not all lollipops by any means.
It was a deeply affecting and appropriate farewell. The spirit of Claudio Abbado, the great conductor and founder of orchestras who died in January 2014, was present in music, words, and silence. Thousands upon thousands came to the Basilica di Santo Stefano in Bologna and the Piazza della Scala in Milan to pay their last respects. In Lucerne, the members of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA paid tribute to this extraordinary man and friend with a deeply moving concert – “The emotional intensity was unbelievable; this could only be achieved by true musicians, by those capable of love.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) Friends and associates look back fondly on Claudio Abbado and speak of how they experienced these moments of grief and farewell.
Originally released on ECM in 1971, and here reissued on CD in Japan, this historic date features the two British bassists engaged while at the top of their powers, exploring not only tonality and the dynamic and harmonic possibilities that exist between two double basses, but also the expanded notions of how the different players' styles and musical intuitions dovetail, rather than work in opposition. Holland's pizzicato attack is far more languid and lush than Phillips,' whose style is over the top; they approach each encounter as one in which sheer propulsiveness becomes an aesthetic.
‘This set of five discs is an invitation to a rather special journey: through what you hear, and what you read too, you will traverse, guided by the cello, not one history but several histories. With these Cello Stories, our intention is to show you how an instrument and its repertoire have taken shape whilst retaining the imprint and memory of diverse origins. I have selected the musical programme from my recordings for Alpha – some of them previously unreleased – to complement the text by Marc Vanscheeuwijck and numerous contemporary illustrations.’ –Bruno Cocset