Our box set pick: Edition Lockenhaus


The chamber music aficionado on your list will likely know of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival, founded three decades ago in a small village in Austria. Under the artistic leadership of violinist Gidon Kremer (pictured), it began as a relaxed gathering place for musical friends and morphed into an Austrian reply to the Marlboro Festival, a high-powered artists’ retreat treasured by connoisseurs for its noncommercial, restlessly exploratory approach to music-making.

To celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary, ECM has released “Edition Lockenhaus,’’ a five-disc retrospective box set, including four reissues and a new disc with a white-hot performance of Strauss’s “Metamorphosen’’ led by Simon Rattle. The other discs contain core and peripheral Russian repertoire (by Shostakovich and Stravinsky), Poulenc songs, Franck’s Piano Quintet, and Janácek’s Quartet No. 1 among other works, and there’s an entire disc making a persuasive case for the forgotten music of Erwin Schulhoff. Kremer, who this year stepped down as the festival’s artistic director, plays in some but not all of the ad hoc ensembles. The performances are fiercely committed, interpretively probing, and, quite often, irresistible.

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