Michèle Auclair Milestones of a Legend. 8 CDs The Intense Media 600317 (2016) barcode 405379600317. Concertos of Mozart (Nos. 4 & 5) (Stuttgart Philharmonic, Marcel Couraud 1961 from Philips), Brahms (Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Willem van Otterloo 1958 from Philips), Tchaikovsky (Austrian Symphony Orchestra, Kurt Wöss circa 1950 from Remington), Haydn Violin Concerto No. 1 (Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Jacques Thibaud 1938 from La Voix de Son Maître / Disque Gramophone), Bruch (Austrian SO, Wilhelm Loibner from Remington circa 1952), Sonatas of Bach (Marie-Claire Alain 1956-1957 from Les Discophiles Français), Debussy & Ravel Sonatas (Jacqueline Bonneau circa 1960 from Les Discophiles Français), Encores by Kreisler (Otto Schulhof circa 1953 from Remington)
I chanced upon this set as I was compiling my big CD-discography of Christian Ferras. The same label has also issued a set devoted to him, 600379 barcode 4053796003799, which I’ve left out of the discography, because obviously it offers what I believe are bootleg dubs of material that was reissued by the official labels, EMI and DG, in transfers that I trust will be infinitely better, so why bother? The label, “The Intense Media”, appeared to be an offshoot from the infamous German label Membran, that I had first encountered some years ago when it issued large sets devoted to the great conductors of the past, adorned with inept titles for the supermarket, like “Maestro Classico” (for Furtwängler!), “Maestro decente” (Böhm), “Maestro Brillante” (Ormandy…) and the likes, and, more fundamentally, that obviously plundered all the other labels they could find, official like Sony or RCA, or non-official like Dante, Biddulph etc. And now Dante and Biddulph are dead, and Membran thrives? That’s rewarding the bad guys. Nonetheless, the CD reissues of Michèle Auclair are few and hard to come by in the West (she appears to enjoy a much greater standing in Japan and Korea), and although I had some of the Japanese “official” reissues, the set was cheap and I thought I’d give it a try.
Well, turns out that all my “expectations” were fulfilled: the Auclair set is obviously plundered as well from previous reissues by other labels; I could check that for sure with the Brahms and Mozart Concertos, by comparing with my Japanese editions, and I have no reason to believe that the set proceeds otherwise with the rest of its material (it may be cause for some to rejoice, then, that the sonics won’t be any worse than the original reissues they were copied from). Also, you may think you are making a good deal for 8 CDs, but each CD is very short, the worst being the Debussy-Ravel Sonatas, running 28 minutes.
But to make my review useful, I’ve added a discography of all those other, mostly Japanese, CD reissues of Auclair’s recordings.