For the 100th anniversary of Sviatoslav Richter, Firma Melodiya presents its arguably biggest project in its semicentennial history: a 50-CD set of Sviatoslav Richters concert recordings! This collection is far from the complete phonographic legacy of the great musician. Nevertheless, the set includes plenty of exclusive, previously unreleased recordings that will make the hearts of even most erudite connoisseurs and collectors rejoice.
This oddly titled CD (which was issued in 1997, hardly the 20th anniversary of Duke Ellington's death in 1974), seems to be a recording that was made by a member of the sound crew for a 1963 concert in Switzerland, including roughly the first half of the show. Although the instruments are all audible, the rhythm section is picked up far better than the reeds or brass on several selections, which also have been resequenced instead of leaving them in the order in which they were performed. On these tracks, the microphones sound as if they are at the back of the stage, making the full band sound rather muffled. Yet clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton is very audible in "Silk Lace," while members of the brass section play various percussion instruments to back violinist Ray Nance in the exotic "Guitar Amour."
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was where Elton John's personality began to gather more attention than his music, as it topped the American charts for eight straight weeks. In many ways, the double album was a recap of all the styles and sounds that made John a star. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is all over the map, beginning with the prog rock epic "Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)" and immediately careening into the balladry of "Candle in the Wind." For the rest of the album, John leaps between popcraft ("Bennie and the Jets"), ballads ("Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"), hard rock ("Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"), novelties ("Jamaica Jerk-Off"), Bernie Taupin's literary pretensions ("The Ballad of Danny Bailey"), and everything in between…
The performances of the music here are excellent, but the whole package matters, and it does not disappoint. The set comes in a good sturdy box. The 16 CDs are in similar study slipcases, with beautiful artwork on the front. There and full track listings and artist info on each one, so no rummaging in the booklet to find what is on the discs.