The late Lorin Maazel came to Cleveland as successor to Georg Szell in the early 1970s and, for Decca, recorded a number of discs of colourful repertoire in disciplined, lively and exciting performances. It was definitely a partnership worth preserving, and this set brings together all their recordings of the period.
Separate reissues of Maazel’s work have appeared on Eloquence, including much of what is here. The Eloquence issues range wider: if you mainly want the Russian masters, or the recordings of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Debussy’s orchestral works or the admittedly weaker set of Brahms’ Symphonies, you should opt for Eloquence. What this box does contain are two iconic performances that every music lover should own: the bracingly punchy complete Romeo and Juliet ballet of Prokofiev, and the first recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to treat the work seriously as grand opera.
A highly impressive performance of the Berlioz Requiem is included, and a Respighi Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals that will knock your socks off. On the final disc Maazel accompanies cellist Lynn Harrell in Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations and the Elgar Concerto, showing the breadth of his musical interests. The vibrant sound is the work of the Decca engineers at their peak.