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Thread: What do you think about those 10-CD sets from Membran?

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    Senior Member Centropolis's Avatar
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    Default What do you think about those 10-CD sets from Membran?

    I just came back from a trip to Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Although the food over there was cheaper than North America, the CDs were very expensive. I thought I was going to come back with some bargains but no.....they sell CDs almost double the price. I am assuming they don't have access to Amazon or something because there is no way people would pay that much for a CD. It was almost $20 per disc.

    Anyhow, while I was there, the only "cheap" CDs I saw were a lot of these Membran 10-CD box sets for different composers. I didn't end up buying any because I checked the prices on Amazon and they were all cheap.

    I know I shouldn't judge the quality of the music based on the price alone but I noticed Membran comes out with many different 10-CD sets for a very reasonable price. What's the general consensus on these Membran sets? I don't see a lot of people talking about them on here.

    I will link to one for as an example. Why is this one so cheap?

    http://www.amazon.ca/Liszt-Revolutio...I2JXQ3SDMTILS4

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Lots of good stuff, simple as that, especially their box sets focusing on a performer, whereas their composer portraits are a mixture of historical recordings and recordings from the Danish Classico label, often less distinguished.

    It´s discount price and people tend to look down a bit on that, but they are often very acclaimed old recordings from major labels. Sound restoriation varies, but it´s a good opportunity to get a lot of classic recordings.

    There´s been quite a bewildering lot of box sets from Membran during the years. In my case, I´ve got a lot of the material on LPs already, but decided to supplement or expand the collection with Membran issues. They include

    - 4CD sets called "Artone" with booklets like

    artone_205.jpg
    Am very satisfied with my Horowitz, Serkin, Arrau, Michelangeli, Kempff, Rubinstein, Heifetz, Celibidache and Mengelberg sets in this series. The Kempff for instance includes a lot of his early and rare Decca Brahms recordings, just as an example.

    - 4CD sets of composer portraits, like

    AD43.jpg
    Having studied this series, only the Ravel was of interest to me due to the early recordings included there - no new but less interesting recordings, unlike in most of the other composer portraits.

    - an initial 10 CD box set series focusing mainly on conductors, often with recordings from the 30s, and often with several box sets for each conductor.

    History205651.jpg
    The sound quality is usually not very good. I´ve got a good deal of the Mengelberg (where the alleged premiere of Bartok´s 2nd Violin Concerto in the set consisted of tracks with popular music, the only case in the Membran series where I´ve encountered such a problem), a Mitropoulos, an Ormandy and a Schnabel set plus some Furwängler, whereas I culled a Beecham set.

    - the 10CD series you mention, such as

    233315_front300dpi.jpg

    There´s a short list here: http://www.membran-online.de/index.p...10n77t8g8jdvi6

    Lots and lots of interesting names, fine compilations of say Richter, Horowitz, Arrau, Cziffra etc. etc. As far as I remember, I´ve only got the Schnabel Beethoven Sonatas (which I also own on LPs), since I own most of the interesting ones as LP or CD material already.

    Finally some other box sets as well, such as the famous Furtwängler 107 CD portrait

    233110_front.jpg

    Go for those you find interesting, but study the exact content of each issue. I´d avoid the Paternostro Bruckner set for sure. If you are very focused on modern sound quality, you will probably find most of the material off-putting - but that would be a pity due to the musicianship found there. Recordings tend to improve say after WW II.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Nov-12-2013 at 14:12.

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    Senior Member Centropolis's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input joen_cph.

    I am still looking for my first Bartok purchase(s). I was pretty much settled on the Solti box but it seems there are a lot more music that was worth listening on top of what's in that Solti box. Would the Membran one cover more essential Bartok stuff? But I do notice that the Solti box also contains things that are not in the Membran 10-CD set either.

    http://www.membran-online.de/product...10n77t8g8jdvi6

    I know I would still have to get a set of Bartok string quartets. Probably settled on Tokyo.
    Last edited by Centropolis; Nov-12-2013 at 14:34.

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    Senior Member Pip's Avatar
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    the reason they are all so cheap is because the recordings are out of copyright.
    that means they can use any old version they can find of various recordings and issue them under their name for pennies.
    this may mean that the quality of some of the recordings are not as good as they should be because they don't have access to the master tapes from the original companies.
    this may cease to be very soon as the new copyright laws are coming into effect very soon and these companies are literally trying to beat the clock. any already issued material will be allowed to remain as before the new laws come into being.
    that is why there are so many on the market at the moment.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    That Bartok set contains a lot of acclaimed recordings. All are mono, but a good deal of those from the 50s have decent sound. You´ll get a lot of classic points of reference - Kubelik, Fricsay, Katchen, Bartok himself, Anda, Markevitch, Menuhin, Foldes etc.

    Definitely one of the best ones, and a very, very nice choice of works (but do get piano concerto no. 1 some time as well).

    (I´ve got the Fricsay "Music for Strings .". and another Fricsay "Divertimento", plus Katchen/Ansermet in the 3rd Piano Concerto; these have quite good sound; and Bartok etc. in "Contrasts" and "Sonata for 2 Pianos". The "Contrasts" do have a rather poor sound though.)
    Last edited by joen_cph; Nov-12-2013 at 15:05.

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    I have a lot of Membran's boxes... classical, opera, jazz, popular music... I find it hard to make any kind of generalization about them, except to say that they are a bargain and they're a great way to sample a lot of different things. Sound quality varies, but there's always enough good stuff to make it worth it. The more recent boxes have better sound overall than the older ones.

    One tip... If you rip these CDs, always rip them as true mono, not stereo. It improves the sound considerably.
    Last edited by bigshot; Nov-12-2013 at 20:44.

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    Senior Member Centropolis's Avatar
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    I do prefer better recorded sound. Someone did say in one of my first threads about newbies should get over the old historical recordings as soon as possible. But honestly, it's really hard to do. I've listened to this,

    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Elgar-Editi...I223ZEL6QFUS14

    on Naxos online and the recording wasn't very good and I couldn't even hear all of the instruments.

    I think for the price of these Membran box sets, I will probably pick one and give it a try but I am hoping the sound will be slightly better than in that Elgar box linked above. (Mind you though, I've only listened to the first CD in that box. Maybe the later discs are newer recordings)

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    Membran isn't always responsible for the bad sound. Sometimes things just weren't well recorded.

    The best sounding Membran box I have heard is the Meisterkonzerte box. Everything on there is golden, and only a couple of things have iffy sound.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Elgar´s own recordings above are very early, from the 20s and 30s, so they aren´t representative of post WW-II sound. I prefer Elgar in good sound too.

    Here´s a you-tube excerpt of the mentioned Fricsay in Bartok´s "Music for Strings ..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX_f-nyXi7Y
    Last edited by joen_cph; Nov-13-2013 at 06:35.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I can vouch for the Nielsen box. The sound is very good, and the performances by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic have received uniformly good reviews.

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    Senior Member Pip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Centropolis View Post
    I do prefer better recorded sound. Someone did say in one of my first threads about newbies should get over the old historical recordings as soon as possible. But honestly, it's really hard to do. I've listened to this,

    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Elgar-Editi...I223ZEL6QFUS14


    on Naxos online and the recording wasn't very good and I couldn't even hear all of the instruments.

    I think for the price of these Membran box sets, I will probably pick one and give it a try but I am hoping the sound will be slightly better than in that Elgar box linked above. (Mind you though, I've only listened to the first CD in that box. Maybe the later discs are newer recordings)
    The Elgar box you mentioned cannot be compared to any Membran box. it is an HMV issue of their own recordings. however all works are conducted by Elgar himself, and as he died in 1934, none of the recordings are going to sound as good as post-WW2 recordings.
    With the Membran boxes, a little detective work is sometimes necessary , EG the Barbirolli box is full of his war time NYPO recordings, which are not the best and the Brahms violin co.with Kreisler was recorded in 1936.
    So some of the Membrans are better than others.
    Last edited by Pip; Nov-13-2013 at 09:26.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Centropolis View Post
    I just came back from a trip to Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Although the food over there was cheaper than North America, the CDs were very expensive. I thought I was going to come back with some bargains but no.....they sell CDs almost double the price. I am assuming they don't have access to Amazon or something because there is no way people would pay that much for a CD. It was almost $20 per disc.

    Anyhow, while I was there, the only "cheap" CDs I saw were a lot of these Membran 10-CD box sets for different composers. I didn't end up buying any because I checked the prices on Amazon and they were all cheap.

    I know I shouldn't judge the quality of the music based on the price alone but I noticed Membran comes out with many different 10-CD sets for a very reasonable price. What's the general consensus on these Membran sets? I don't see a lot of people talking about them on here.

    I will link to one for as an example. Why is this one so cheap?

    http://www.amazon.ca/Liszt-Revolutio...I2JXQ3SDMTILS4
    I imagine the prices are because they are now in the Eurozone--a great curse,the Uk refused to join.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    They have been cheap here to, mostly due an effective, very independent-minded seller (we stick to our own currency). Down to 7 - 12 € per 10 CD box, Down to 3 € per 4 CD box. But in Germany (and maybe Prague) I´ve seen them for even less.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Nov-13-2013 at 11:44.

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    I bought three of the 100 CD jazz boxes (there are 5 altogether, but 2 are out of print). The Big bands and Be-bop use a lot of poor recordings and radio broadcasts. It's stuff you can't get anywhere else, but the sound is often poor. The "Modern Jazz" is actually 1950s stuff, and if you like '50s straight ahead jazz, it is the greatest thing that will ever happen to you. Tons of incredible albums at $1 each.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    They have been cheap here to, mostly due an effective, very independent-minded seller (we stick to our own currency). Down to 7 - 12 € per 10 CD box, Down to 3 € per 4 CD box. But in Germany (and maybe Prague) I´ve seen them for even less.
    The strange thing is that I've never come across them,I wonder if they're sold in Britain.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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