PHILHARMONIC

The latest in the New York Philharmonic's groundbreaking series of homegrown boxed sets (issued via the orchestra's Special Editions label) is a thoughtfully produced collection celebrating the 11-yea

The latest in the New York Philharmonic's groundbreaking series of homegrown boxed sets (issued via the orchestra's Special Editions label) is a thoughtfully produced collection celebrating the 11-year tenure of outgoing music director Kurt Masur. Divided into six individual volumes (which are also sold separately), the 10-CD set features 12 hours of previously unissued live performances of 16 works that Masur and the orchestra never recorded commercially under their deal with Teldec. Indeed, the program's great strength is that it shows a side of Masur's art of which record-buyers may not be aware. Yes, there are full-blooded renditions of Middle European choral masterpieces here, including a complete Bach St. Matthew Passion and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. But the true highlights come via a rarely heard trio of dramatic/orchestral scena—Debussy's Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, Stravinsky's Perséphone, and Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher. There is also a first recording of Sofia Gubaidulina's atmospheric Two Paths for Two Violas. While the packaging isn't quite as deluxe as with previous New York sets, the annotation—including a 100-page booklet and individual volume notes—is up to the usual high grade. The sound, too, is very good (surprisingly so, given Avery Fisher Hall's problematic acoustics). Selling for $140, the collection is available at select Tower Records and Virgin Megastores locations, as well as via newyorkphilharmonic.org.—BB