The substantial demand for Fricsay's music-making, personified by performances of vivid characterisation with sparkling detail, striking contrasts of colour, vital rhythmic energy and richly expressive phrasing, had made him a prolific recording artist. Collectors of the day, particularly, highly prized their luxuriously packaged DG discs of him in a very wide range of music . . . The performance of Rolf Liebermann's frenetic and feverish "Furioso" is electrifying in its driving rhythm, pin-point articulation and razor-sharp precision. Another item in the DG centenary box is a rehearsal of Smetana's "Vltava" with the Stuttgart RSO -- a unique revealing of Fricsay's genius. I have seen this rehearsal . . . and the only word I can find to describe it is riveting. His technical and musical knowledge, captivating artistic imagination and meticulous attention to detail in rehearsal remind me of Carlos Kleiber.

. . . there is a wealth of superb performances in the vaults . . . these performances represent the highest level of musicmaking . . . [Beethoven 9]: it really does stand the test of time . . . The textures are translucent without any suggestion of inevitability, particularly the slow movement which is open and at times radiant. In total there are five discs of Beethoven in the box and lots of brilliant performances of Bartók and Kodály . . .

. . . Fricsay was taught by Bartók and Kodály, and his recordings of these masters are unmissable, especially his multiple award-winning account of Bartók's "Concerto For Orchestra", and the Piano Concertos with Geza Anda. He held big jobs in Germany, so his unfinished Beethoven symphony cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic, especially the spiritually radiant slow movement of the "Ninth", is memorable. But he also did well in mainstream contemporary music, and loved Dvorák and Tchaikovsky. His "Pathétique", coming from a man who knew he was dying, is searing, and his "From The New World" wonderfully atmospheric. In fact, he was good at everything he touched.

Though he died at 48, Fricsay left an impressive recorded legacy [in this] marvelous centenary celebration . . . You'd have to visit pre-war Toscanini to find a performance that's anywhere near as vital or dynamic [as Fricsay's 1953 BPO Beethoven First Symphony] . . . The same goes for Fricsay's account of Rossini's "Semiramide" Overture . . . Mozart and Bartók are conspicuous by their excellence, the three Bartók piano concertos magnificently played by Géza Anda (so much colour and tonal variety), with a trim, early option for the Third featuring Monique Haas, the Mozart concertos with Clara Haskil mandatory listening for anyone with an ear for finely-sculpted piano-playing . . . Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin is in most key respects superb; in fact there aren't many recordings from the 1950s that display Menuhin's technique as effectively as this one does . . . [Dvorák's "New World"] highlights Fricsay's ennobling musicianship, especially the expansive "Largo". Brahms's Second with the VPO has an engaging glow, tempered passion and rich textures being among its principal attractions, while a memorably expressive account of the B flat Concerto with Anda suggests profoundly creative thinking on the part of both musicians. As to modem music, or what was modem in Fricsay's day, there's plenty of that too, nearly all of it performed with unflagging enthusiasm and a keen ear for textural detail . . . Add a whole host of popular shorter works and an illuminating rehearsal (followed by a complete performance) of 'Vltava' from Smetana's "Má vlast" and you have a source of rich musical nourishment that should feed you well into the new year and beyond. I can't imagine that anyone with an ear for interesting repertoire and perceptive music-making could possibly be disappointed. It's a fabulous collection.

The sound is invariably good for the period -- bright, open, detailed, and clear -- while many of the early stereo recordings sound brilliant and vivid. Many of the performances contained in this set were among the jewels of the early LP era, and are still worth hearing today. I can't wait for more in this series!

The Bartok "Concerto for Orchestra" from 1957 has a profound ritard in the "Intermezzo interotto", just a slight touch of genius. The Bartok "Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra", Op. 1 has "the troubadour of the piano", Geza Anda, at the keyboard, and rarely have the spirits of Bartok and Liszt converged with such confidence. When it came to Mozart, my "test disc" was the "Adagio and Fugue in C Minor" from 1960, a model of intense clarity and drama. All of the work with Annie Fischer and Clara Haskil in the piano concertos and concert rondos set the standard for all future interpretations . . . The many other dividends come in the form of marvelous collaborations, from the aforementioned Geza Anda in thrilling Bartok concertos, to the rarified playing of Martzy and Morni in concertos by Bruch, Glazunov, and Dvorak . . . the few excerpts from Swan Lake (1957) mesmerize us every time. And I do relish the late Haydn symphonies with Fricsay . . . his late Mozart symphonies bear the stamp of deep thought . . . So, the "moral" of the story is to cherish every record, every note.

. . . I am still amazed by the freshness of these often 60-year-old recordings . . . an exquisitely packaged and sensibly priced tribute . . . [Bartók]: Lovingly played by Geza Anda, Fricsay paces all three piano concertos perfectly, balancing the dissonant spice with real warmth . . . The Concerto for Orchestra, recorded in late mono, is beautifully phrased and textured . . . [Smetana / "Die Moldau" rehearsal]: a fitting end to a collection that gleams throughout in the most unhistorical way . . . One also senses the sheer desirability of these DG discs when they were new . . . The album art replicated here is utterly captivating . . . they make this box more than merely a tribute to a great conductor. It is a snapshot of a company at its best . . . one of the finest reissues ever to come my way, and what an astonishing orchestral collection . . . Fricsay's legacy seems perfectly up-to-date and relevant in the 21st century.

Auf singulärem Niveau . . . [es sind vor allem die] Werke der klassischen Moderne, die bei Fricsay und seinen Musikern in besten Händen waren, und so ist diese Kompilation vor allem zu empfehlen wegen exemplarischer Aufführungen vieler heute kaum noch bekannten Werke deutscher und österreichischer Komponisten, die in den fünfziger Jahren Furore machten . . . [Glière / Symphony no. 3]: das Ergebnis ist auch hier ohne Übertreibung großartig . . . Wer sich für Orchestermusik der klassischen Moderne ernsthaft interessiert, sollte bei Fricsays sämtlichen Orchestermusik-Aufnahmen für die Deutsche Grammophon, zumal zu diesem Preis, bedenkenlos zugreifen, und eine ganze Menge davon ist erstmals auf CD erhältlich.

Das ultimative Klassikschatzkästlein: Hier wird eine Dirigentenlegende wieder lebendig, die vom Alleskönner, vom Ur-Kapellmeister, vom Überzeugungstäter.

Von geradezu exemplarischem Rang sind die Bartók-Aufnahmen. Erwähnt seien, neben einer fabelhaft musikalisch ausgeleuchteten Version der drei Klavierkonzerte mit Géza Anda, das "Divertimento" und das "Konzert für Orchester" mit den von Fricsay ungemein tiefbohrend gedeuteten langsamen Sätzen . . . Fricsay strebt nie nach einem kantenlosen Schönklang, sondern wagt sich immer an jene Schwelle, wo das Schöne und das Schreckliche eine kaum beschreibbare Verbindung eingehen. Auch seine Fähigkeit, extreme Spannungsverhältnisse bis in Details hinein auszuloten, macht seine Sonderstellung klar. Das gilt auch für seine Aufnahmen der Klassiker, etwa der siebten Sinfonie Beethovens und der dritten "Leonoren-Ouvertüre". Immer hat man den Eindruck, als stoße er ins Utopische vor und als könne er erst in diesen Grenz-Sphären Sinn und Sinnlichkeit als ganzheitliche Ansprache dem Hörer vermitteln . . . Sein Haydn- und Mozart-Stil weist ihn als Wegbereiter einer Revolutionsbewegung aus: schlanker Ton, entschlossenes Vorwärtsschreiten, ein hohes Maß an Transparenz und dabei stets beweglich und schlicht . . . [bei Mozart-Opern] setzte Fricsay auf einen klar konturierten, teilweise geradezu kammermusikalisch orientierten Klang, durchsichtig, feinnervig. Rückblickend wirkt Fricsay wie ein Vorbote dessen, was im heutigen Musikleben, historisch-informiert unterfüttert, standardisiert ist . . . Eines der markantesten Beispiele seiner Interpretationskunst findet sich im "Fidelio" . . . [die radikale Spannung] zwischen Bewegung und gefühltem Stillstand ist bezeichnend für Fricsays geballtes, kontrastbetontes Musizieren.