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Thread: RCA Living Stereo Vol. 1 box vs. Sony Masterworks Heritage box

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    Senior Member severance68's Avatar
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    Default RCA Living Stereo Vol. 1 box vs. Sony Masterworks Heritage box

    I've returned to classical music fairly recently after a 30-year hiatus. I've been enjoying several Russian composers, along with Beethoven's symphonies, Liszt, Dvořák and others.

    In the last few days I've been thinking about getting one of the vintage box sets, one with recordings from roughly 1954-1980. ('50s and '60s only is perfectly fine.) Mono is acceptable, but I'd like most of it to contain stereo recordings.

    Though I also have my eye on the Mercury Living Presence sets (largely thanks to Pugg! ), I'm thinking that for my first big box set, I'd like something under $100 -- at Amazon, anyway.

    So I'm leaning toward either the RCA Living Stereo box -- the first one -- or the Masterworks Heritage Collection.





    What do you think? Or is there another one that should be considered ahead of these, covering the same period?

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    Living Stereo is better in my opinion

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    DrMike
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    I love the Living Stereo series - while I buy them mostly through iTunes, I have picked up a couple of the CDs. There are some incredible gems in there. Some of them are my reference recordings for works. Fritz Reiner, Charles Münch, Jascha Heifetz . . .

    Were I looking to spend that kind of money, that is the box set I would get.

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    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    I would definitely opt for the Living Stereo, for the artists represented. You get Munch, Heifetz, Reiner, Cliburn etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrMike View Post
    I love the Living Stereo series - while I buy them mostly through iTunes, I have picked up a couple of the CDs. There are some incredible gems in there. Some of them are my reference recordings for works. Fritz Reiner, Charles Münch, Jascha Heifetz . . .

    Were I looking to spend that kind of money, that is the box set I would get.
    I do have a couple CDs from the Living Stereo series -- Reiner/Chicago Symphony doing 1812 Overture, Marche Slav, the Hebrides Overture, etc.; Leopold Stokowski/RCA Victor Symphony: Rhapsodies. I was thinking of a few more when I began to think about just picking up this box. One of the more reliable Amazon resellers is offering it new for $87. With shipping it still comes in under $100.

    Also, Vol. 2 is about $80 via Amazon Prime, though I'm sure it would be a while before I would get around to that.

    Another set I was considering, but didn't mention, is the EMI William Steinberg Collection.


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    Senior Member Jeffrey Smith's Avatar
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    Both have high quality recordings you will eventually want to get in any case. So get both...but go for the Living Stereo first, since that has a higher number of "must have" recordings. I have neither, simply because I have so much of the contents as individual CDs.
    Also keep in mind other label boxes from Decca, Philips, L'Oiseau Lyre, etc.
    If music be the food of life, play on!
    ....Shakespeare, corrected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Smith View Post
    Both have high quality recordings you will eventually want to get in any case. So get both...but go for the Living Stereo first, since that has a higher number of "must have" recordings. I have neither, simply because I have so much of the contents as individual CDs.
    Also keep in mind other label boxes from Decca, Philips, L'Oiseau Lyre, etc.
    Ah -- yes, part of me knows I'll likely have both eventually, but I can see the logic of getting the Living Stereo -- the more substantial set -- first.

    I did look into a Decca box, which looks fascinating as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by severance68 View Post
    Ah -- yes, part of me knows I'll likely have both eventually, but I can see the logic of getting the Living Stereo -- the more substantial set -- first.

    I did look into a Decca box, which looks fascinating as well.
    Not to be missed.

    As for your first question ; the Living stereo, hands down

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    Well, it's unanimous! The Living Stereo set it is!

    Many thanks for all the suggestions.

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    This is a great idea for a thread. The premise is we have someone who already is familiar with Classical Music, had listened to recordings during the "Golden Age" of recording, but has been on a Desert Isle for decades and is starting from scratch buying recordings. At the same time the record Companies are all dumpingtheir back catalog in huge cheaply priced sets. What to buy?
    All of the recommendations so far in this thread are good. It really comes down to your choice of repetoire and Artists.
    I have bought many of these boxes but like most veteran (i.e. 'obsessive') collectors they inevitably duplicate a lot of what I already own. The OP presumably won't have this problem.
    So if I can contribute something new to this, i would urge you to rethink the need for a really big box and perhaps go after some 'mid sized' boxes, primarily from Sony (which now owns RCA) or Universal (which has merged Phillips, DG and Decca).
    The Sony boxes are great. Leon Fleisher, Heifetz,Rubinstein collections, Bernstein collections, szell Beethoven Symphonies, many great Ormandy collections, and on it goes.
    One problem with the uer big boxes is that there is a fair amount of chaff with the wheat. I have the first two Mercury boxes and while the good recordings are plentiful and worth the price, there are various oddball discs I will probably not play ("Balalaika Favorites', Puyuna Harpsichord discs, etc). I bought a huge Richter box and again while the gold outweighs the chaff, I am discovering that not everything Sviatislav touched turned to Gold. There are quite a few ofthe Living Stereo discss that I could do without. The smaller boxes tend to have more nuggets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triplets View Post
    This is a great idea for a thread. The premise is we have someone who already is familiar with Classical Music, had listened to recordings during the "Golden Age" of recording, but has been on a Desert Isle for decades and is starting from scratch buying recordings. At the same time the record Companies are all dumpingtheir back catalog in huge cheaply priced sets. What to buy?
    All of the recommendations so far in this thread are good. It really comes down to your choice of repetoire and Artists.
    I have bought many of these boxes but like most veteran (i.e. 'obsessive') collectors they inevitably duplicate a lot of what I already own. The OP presumably won't have this problem.
    So if I can contribute something new to this, i would urge you to rethink the need for a really big box and perhaps go after some 'mid sized' boxes, primarily from Sony (which now owns RCA) or Universal (which has merged Phillips, DG and Decca).
    The Sony boxes are great. Leon Fleisher, Heifetz,Rubinstein collections, Bernstein collections, szell Beethoven Symphonies, many great Ormandy collections, and on it goes.
    One problem with the uer big boxes is that there is a fair amount of chaff with the wheat. I have the first two Mercury boxes and while the good recordings are plentiful and worth the price, there are various oddball discs I will probably not play ("Balalaika Favorites', Puyuna Harpsichord discs, etc). I bought a huge Richter box and again while the gold outweighs the chaff, I am discovering that not everything Sviatislav touched turned to Gold. There are quite a few ofthe Living Stereo discss that I could do without. The smaller boxes tend to have more nuggets.
    I am not a veteran but do like these ( big)boxes, they brought me music I otherwise (perhaps) never listen to .
    The sound is great and if you look carefully the prices are worth every disc.
    My humble opinion of course

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post
    I am not a veteran but do like these ( big)boxes, they brought me music I otherwise (perhaps) never listen to .
    The sound is great and if you look carefully the prices are worth every disc.
    My humble opinion of course
    I always thought you were youthful, Pugg! At these prices, you can't go wrong. Even a large box with a few clunkers is still well worth it. The OP should just jump in and have fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triplets View Post
    So if I can contribute something new to this, i would urge you to rethink the need for a really big box and perhaps go after some 'mid sized' boxes, primarily from Sony (which now owns RCA) or Universal (which has merged Phillips, DG and Decca).
    The Sony boxes are great. Leon Fleisher, Heifetz,Rubinstein collections, Bernstein collections, szell Beethoven Symphonies, many great Ormandy collections, and on it goes.
    One problem with the uber big boxes is that there is a fair amount of chaff with the wheat ... There are quite a few of the Living Stereo discs that I could do without. The smaller boxes tend to have more nuggets.
    I do have a few mid-sized boxes -- Szell's Beethoven cycle; a Leinsdorf Prokofiev box; and an Ormandy Tchaikovsky cycle, with many additional pieces. But part of my rationale for the bigger sets is that there's a lot of the canon I either haven't heard in years or never got around to at all.

    My collection is top heavy with Russian composers, whom I really like -- Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, et. al. But I have no Beethoven outside of the Szell symphonies, and a Karajan cycle ('63)( (without the box or liner notes) given to me by a friend. Bach is only represented by the Brandenburgs. One Mendelssohn disc is on the way, but that will be my first purchase of his work. There's one Faure CD. I have a smattering of Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Holst, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Khachaturian, Walton and other 20th century figures (in addition to Rachmaninov/Prokofiev).

    So I would like to be able to have a box that gives me a broader survey of the most iconic composers.

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    By the way, funds are rather tighter than I thought at the moment, so for now I've actually gone with the Masterworks Heritage Collection, with an eye toward snapping up the Living Stereo box after the next payday.
    Last edited by severance68; Apr-16-2016 at 15:30.

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    Quote Originally Posted by severance68 View Post
    By the way, funds are rather tighter than I thought at the moment, so for now I've actually gone with the Masterworks Heritage Collection, with an eye toward snapping up the Living Stereo box after the next payday.
    Is that one cheaper then the Living stereo box

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