The world's biggest CD box is coming your way

The world's biggest CD box is coming your way


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2011

Somebody at Sony has gone down into the Columbia vaults and found all these ancient recordings that are not earning their keep. So the plan is to issue them in mega-editions that will take up so much space on your shelf there will be no room for other records. Clever, huh?

First to get the mega-treatment is Arthur Rubinstein. Sony are putting him out next month in an edition of 142 CDs, 2 videos and a glossy book for the holiday season. Biggest ever, they say. It’s the complete Rubinstein, apparently, including all the RCA and EMI sessions.

But haven’t they forgotten something? There were some Decca sessions that drove poor John Culshaw to distraction (see my history of recording for the full story). Universal must have refused to release them to a rival.

Oh, and this is not the first  ‘complete’ Rubi. The last one came in 94 CDs.

And, as an alert reader quickly pointed out, the complete Bach from Hänssler comes with 172 CDs. So this is just the biggest single-artist CD box.

Here’s the press release:



Arthur Rubinstein –

The Complete Album Collection


Catalogue number                  88697911362

Label                                       Sony Classical        

Price Point                               Budget

Format                                    142 CD + 2 DVD

Release date                           5th December  11


Arthur Rubinstein is widely considered to be the greatest pianist of the 20th Century.  He received 5 Grammy Awards between 1960-1978 for his recordings in both Chamber Music and Solo Instrumental categories and received a posthumous lifetime achievement in 1994.


Arthur Rubinstein – The Complete Album Collection is a Guinness World Record breaking product. The world’s biggest CD edition for a solo artist, it features 142 CDs and 2 Bonus DVDs from this legendary artist, all housed in a stylish cerise box with a comprehensive 164-page full colour hardback book.


142-CD plus 2-DVD limited edition


  • The complete studio and live recordings of solo, concerto and chamber music repertoire on RCA Red Seal in their best re-mastered versions.  Includes all EMI recordings [originally released on RCA]


  • 3 Bonus-CDs


  • Three  new Chopin and one new Debussy work added to the discography
  • First-ever release of a whole Chopin Collection
  • More than 3 ½ hours of previously unreleased music
  • Highlights from Rubinstein’s 1961 Carnegie Hall recitals [‘50th Anniversary Special Releases’]


  • 2 Bonus-DVDs


  • Rubinstein Remembered, a documentary tracing the great pianist’s life.
  • The Benefit Recital for Israel, (1975)


  • 164-page full-coloured hardcover book in landscape format includes


  • New liner notes by Rubinstein biographer Harvey Sachs
  • Essay by John Rubinstein
  • Photos shot and selected by Eva Rubinstein
  • Essay on Rubinstein’s 1961 Carnegie Hall recitals
  • Complete discography in alphabetical and chronological order, featuring 78s, 45s and LPs
  • Track listings with complete discographical notes



  • Adam Krims says:

    They do, in fact, say “biggest CD edition for a solo artists”.

  • I think someone at Sony has got inside my brain – I find these original jacket collections ridiculously desirable. They know I can’t resist! It is worth pointing out that this one costs a fraction of the price of the 94CD set – I’ve seen it online for less than £200, whereas I once saw the old set in a shop for something like 5 times that price. This one is on lots more discs because it replicates the original LP programmes, rather than reordering them to make the most of an 80 minute disc.

    One other thing – this isn’t the first of these that Sony have done; the complete Horowitz on 70 CDs came out in 2009 and Heifetz got the works last year. In each case, I imagine there were things missing: in the case of Horowitz, you’d have to supplement it with the complete DG recordings from his last decade, recently reissued with a red spotty bow tie on the cover and with the original covers on the CD slip cases (though it must be said that Sony’s presentation is more beautiful).

  • Jonathan Elvey says:

    I have the last Rubinstein box. 94 CDs – but the one thing we all wanted and didn’t get was a complete set of his Carnegie Hall recitals in 1961 – by all accounts , a historic run of gigs. I recall that his family declined to sanction their release. Hope we get them this time and not just the same old same old..