- Prelude & Fugue for piano No. 10 in C sharp minor, Op. 87/10
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Admired around the world for his brilliance as a pianist and his insights as a conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy consistently has been one of the leading artists in classical music, and his relationship with Decca has been extraordinarily productive. Housed in a sturdy flip-top box, Ashkenazy: 50 Years on Decca is a limited-edition collection of 50 CDs that survey the pianist's long career with the label, which began in 1963. The albums are presented in cardboard sleeves with original artwork, and the thick booklet that accompanies the set is full of detailed track and session information, though it offers little else, considering the immensity of this package. Ashkenazy's output as a pianist is generously represented with albums of solo keyboard music by Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Prokofiev; chamber music by Beethoven, Franck, Brahms, and Ravel; along with the great piano concertos, including those of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Bartók, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, among others. As a conductor, Ashkenazy has been a relative late bloomer, but his performances of symphonies and orchestral works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, and Shostakovich are noteworthy additions to the catalog. Among the illustrious musicians who recorded with Ashkenazy are violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Lynn Harrell, soprano Elisabeth Söderström, and many great conductors of the last half of the 20th century, including Kirill Kondrashin, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Barenboim, and Georg Solti. Because Ashkenazy has been so prolific, it's difficult to call this set definitive, though it is decidedly representative of the best music he has recorded.