Friday, October 16, 2009
Here come the old generation artists
Interesting to see Simon Rattle's newly released cycle of the Brahms symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic selling today in leading independent retailer Prelude Records, who are not known for their discounting, for £19.99. Presumably because the recordings were made at live concerts, EMI released the four symphonies on 3 CDs with no fillers, which gives a playing time of just 42 minutes for the CD of the Fourth Symphony on its own, which is short measure even for an LP! At £19.99 the price per Berlin Phil CD is just 80 pence more than a Naxos disc in the same store featuring the Camerata Transylvanica. I am trying to work out whether that is an example of reputation inflation or deflation.
Talking of LPs, my header image is my 3 LP box of Bruno Walter's Brahms stereo cycle from the 1960s (He made an earlier mono cycle with the New York Philharmonic). My set contains Dutch pressings from the early 1980s, and, unlike the American Columbia pressings of the same period, they still sound magnificent today. Both of Walter's cycles are available on CD if you must. Other 'old school' Brahms that I return to often is George Szell's cycle with the Cleveland Orchestra, again from the 1960s but available on silver disc. Karajan should also receive an honourable mention; he was a truly strange individual, but his Brahms was quite superlative.For 'new school' Brahms, it is hard to beat the venerable Charles Mackerras' account of the symphonies with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Teldec.
With so many exemplary recordings from 'old generation artists' in the catalogue (and often in outstanding analogue sound to boot) is it surprising that EMI are forced to discount Rattle and the Berlin Phil's interpretations so heavily from day one? - over on amazon.co.uk the 3 CD set is just £16.98 post free. More on the frustrations of the classical recording industry here.
My headline will probably only be appreciated by those who have to suffer listening to BBC Radio 3. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk