It's time for a good rant. And a stellar example why I avoid most "major labels" completely and instead turn to the smaller, independent specialty labels for quality Classical music releases.
I'll be brief here. But I have to get this off my chest.
It's nice to have a comprehensive collection of Muti's early recordings. Recordings for EMI. Shame on Warner for once again taking credit for something they had nothing to do with. The title of this box set is an atrocity. "The Complete Warner Recordings"? NO! It's the complete EMI recordings. This is not a difficult concept. But Warner just loves its alternative facts and continues to perpetuate the lie.
Not only that, shame on Warner for once again doing nothing to update their endless reissues with any kind of fresh remastering on these EMI recordings. (Many of them desperately need it.) Typical of Warner, they simply repackage another label's previously released material, slap their logo on it, and release it as if it's their own and somehow new. It is neither.
And the final straw is the layout over 91 discs. Glancing at the program listings, one can see that no attempt was made to fill up each disc with generous playing times. For example, Rite of Spring is all by itself on a disc lasting just 32 minutes. Similarly, Petroushka is also by itself, lasting just 33 minutes. Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto, 37 minutes - all alone. I could go on and on. And this pattern persists on every CD until the number reaches a whopping (and utterly ridiculous) 91. Warner simply replicated the original releases, back to the days of LPs, when playing times ranged from about 30-40 minutes. Further, no attempt was made to gather/group discs containing similar/related repertoire together in a meaningful, logical order. No, music just appears randomly. Perhaps they are in the original release-date order. But as a collection, there is no continuity or logic whatsoever.
Warner has done this exact same thing over and over since acquiring the EMI catalog. Their recent Previn set, just a few months earlier, is another prime example. Not to mention the endless glut of Karajan reissues, ad nauseum.
If there is any Classical music lover alive who doesn't already have every Muti (or Previn) recording they could ever want, then here is a place to start - albeit a very expensive one. For everyone else (most of us), these Warner sets are a disgraceful insult to EMI's legacy.
On the other hand...
SONY is a label I continue to support and enjoy. SONY shows this can be done with integrity, dignity, ethics and humbleness. SONY too likes to buy up other labels and reissue their material under their own umbrella. However, unlike Warner, SONY retains the original record label logo (RCA and CBS, and more recently, Conifer) on those releases and clearly identifies and justly attributes original recording provenance. And when they reissue, they do so with a purpose. And with the collector in mind - with low price compilations which are almost always newly remastered. And that's not all. They take it a step further and put some actual thought into it and do a little research and almost always find some rare, obscure, neglected recordings to include - giving them a new lease on life and adding just a spark of excitement to the jaded collector. Just think of all those budget box sets in their Masters series, and the complete conductor, pianist, violinist sets. All offered at great prices, newly remastered and often with never-before-released material. Now THAT'S how it's done. Bravo SONY! When was the last time you saw Warner put that much effort into anything?