harmonia mundi boxed sets

Last minute Christmas gift ideas for fans of HIP performances of early music? Don’t worry – harmonia mundi have stacks of bumper sets that will please everyone.

For medievalists, there is an 11-CD set (!) entitled “Die grossen Minnesänger” (Christophorus CHR 77432, over 11 hours of music) covers recordings from 1985 to 2015 and almost every imaginable top source of music from that period, featruing the ensemble für frühe musik augsburg, Per-Sonat, Ensemble Leones, I Ciarlatani and a solo disc of Konrad von Würzburg’s music by the doyenne of the repertoire, Andrea von Ramm (which also contains PDFs of all of the complete booklets from the other sets).

For lovers of baroque and classical music, Accent have released two awesome boxes called “Sigiswald Kuijken – The Concertos” (10 CDs lasting nearly 11 hours, ACC 24352) and “Sigiswald Kuijken – The Chamber Music” (20 CDs lasting over 19 hours, ACC 24351). The former devotes two discs each to Vivaldi, Telemann and Joseph Haydn, three to Bach and the 10th disc to Mozart, while the latter runs from English Viol Music via Rameau and Couperin, through three discs of Haydn to two more discs of Mozart.

Finally in the HIP selection, opera lovers will be in seventh heaven to discover René Jacobs’ Mozart/Da Ponte set in a single box (HMX 2908801.09, 9 CDs of music lasting a little under nine hours, plus a 10th CD with PDFs of the libretti and translations). Though personally I have never been much of a fan of his recordings, after listening to several alternative new releases over recent months, I found these nicely paced accounts impressive and dramatically engaging. The singers (and again, as far as I am concerned – and I stress that I am not much of an opera fan!) are not “singing down” in the name of being “more authentic”; it struck me more that they were singing as part of a larger ensemble (i. e., the orchestra) than project as stars over it. Bravo to all concerned.

Brian Clark