It is an understatement to say that Furtwängler has been popular among classical music lovers in Japan. In fact, judging from the sheer number of reissues of his recordings coming up as local releases in Japan, one can safely reckon that Furtwängler is a star there.
With the recent 55-CD box set released by Warner, “The Complete Wilhelm Furtwängler on Record”, which proves to be very attractive, it is interesting to go back in history to see what Japanese releases of Furtwängler box sets look like.
As I mentioned above, there has been an enormous amount of CD reissues in Japan, but they are mainly single or double discs, and the number of large box sets containing 10 or more CDs is disproportionately small. I have only 5 in my collection, and I’m quite sure there might be some others that I have missed.
Let’s look at 3 of them first.
Released in 1997, this box set from DG Japan includes 10 CDs and a bonus CD, utilising the then popular DG Originals concept. No similar box set was released internationally.
Toshiba EMI responded in 2000 with an 18-CD box set in a slim case covered in moleskin, and each CD is put in a cardboard jacket using the original cover art of the respective LPs issued in the past. Quite a nice touch.
Tahra is a classical label that no classical music lovers would not know. In 2008, Tower Records Japan gathered all Furtwängler releases by Tahra in one simple Memorial Edition of 40 CDs. All CDs are placed inside a transparent plastic jacket with no cover art. I believe it was meant to be a no-frills Tahra Furtwängler compendium.
I’ll leave the other 2 larger sets for Part 3 ☺️