The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and IMG Artists present an exclusive deluxe 8CD box set edition celebrating the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and its century-long national and international tradition. The box offers a unique collection of recordings dating from 1934-1978 with more than 10 hours of music. Here the orchestra plays under legendary names like Arturo Toscanini, Fritz Busch, Leopold Stokowski, Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux and Rafael Kubelik, together with their Swedish counterparts Tor Mann, Sixten Ehrling and Herbert Blomstedt.
The symphonies are well-performed. 'Reformation' is an inspired live recording. The 12 string symphonies, written in Mendelssohn's youth, are also included. The concertos are exceptional - the violin concerto is as good as you'll find anywhere. The oratorios Elijah and Paulus are included, as well as the complete chamber works and a diverse assortment of choral works. The last few discs include the Lied ohne worte, the epic organ sonatas, and excellent renditions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Fingal's Cave. While there are a few sketchy performances in the choral and chamber works, the performances and recordings are generally very solid, and the body of work couldn't be better.
The frustrating thing about smooth jazz isn't an absence of talent or chops; actually, there are plenty of smooth jazz musicians who have chops galore even though their studio recordings don't reflect that. At smooth jazz concerts, it isn't hard to find artists who take a lot more chances on-stage than they do in the studio. But taking chances in the studio isn't conducive to airplay on commercial smooth jazz/NAC radio stations, which is why so many generic, unimaginative smooth jazz recordings have been flooding the market since the 1980s. Walter Beasley has certainly given listeners plenty of generic, unimaginative recordings over the years, but not everything he records is without merit – and Free Your Mind does have its moments.