In 1968, keyboardist-composer Wendy Carlos released Switched-On Bach
, her bestselling LP featuring baroque music performed on the Moog synthesizer. Carlos intended to spread the gospel of electronic classical music through this quirky release; instead, she sold more albums than Karlheinz Stockhausen could ever dream of, released a few follow-ups, and paved the way for Hot Butter's "Popcorn." Carlos has since become well known for more than just these wacky classical interpretations--she recorded the soundtracks to A Clockwork Orange
and released new works--but the Switched-On
s are the goofy synthesizer recordings that most of us still remember.
No less than Glenn Gould proclaimed, "Carlos's realization of the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto is, to put it bluntly, the finest performance of any of the Brandenburgs--live, canned, or intuited--I've ever heard." We're not sure what he meant by that, but if you have half the enthusiasm Gould did for this music, check out this box set. All four of Carlos's baroque-gone-space-age LPs from the '70s are included here--Switched-On Bach, The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, Switched-On Bach II, and Switched-On Brandenburgs--completely remastered in all their stereophonic glory and containing bonus tracks (the fourth CD is even enhanced for use on your computer). The liner notes weigh in at around 150 pages, filled with photos and background information even on the evolution of Carlos's studio (you get the original LP notes in their entirety, too). The music? It's hilarious, absolutely riveting, and--whether Scarlatti, Bach, Handel, or Monteverdi--played successfully by Carlos and her battery of special effects. For the lover of the eclectic or the classical fan who knows how to let loose, this is a box set to get. --Jason Verlinde