Friday, March 02, 2012

Music you used to find upstairs in record stores


Performances of Purcell's keyboard music on the piano are rare because he wrote so specifically for the unique sonic properties of the harpsichord. So last year I was delighted to find the CD above which respects Purcell while making interpretation an integral part of the performance. It comes from the Turkish pianist Toros Can who is better known for recordings of contemporary music including Ligeti's Studies, George Crumb's Makrokosmos and Hindemith's Piano Works for the independent l'Empreinte Digitale label, and he committed the Purcell to disc in 2005 following a study of John Cage's Sonatas.

Toros Can's CD of Purcell's Suites & Grounds is now deleted, although significantly in view of the direction this path will take it remains available as a download. However I found a new shrink wrapped copy, presumably a stock end, in the delightful weekly market at Ceret in French Catalonia last summer. The photo below records the moment of purchase, which was infinitely more rewarding than clicking on the 'buy' button on Amazon.


Chance finds, rather than record company freebies and press releases, are the fuel that powers On An Overgrown Path. The very great majority of those chance finds come from independent stores, and in particular the indispensable Prelude Records here in Norwich. As readers will know independent stores are a threatened species and I have written before of Graham Jones's campaign to protect independent music distribution. Graham was one of the founders of independent distributor Proper Music; they represent ECM in the UK and exist "to provide a dedicated online home for music of the specialist genres – broadly the music you used to find upstairs (or maybe in the basement) in record shops".

Now Graham is masterminding a 60-minute documentary about independent record stores titled 'Last shop standing' to be released in summer 2012. Here is Graham's own description of the film: "It will be a celebration of the unique spirit of comradeship and entrepreneurial ingenuity that has enabled so many shops to keep operating successfully against the backdrop of massive changes in the music industry, the biggest recession in years, the growth of online file sharing and the explosion of choice in music consumption. Not long ago there was a record shop on every high street, but over 500 independent record stores have closed during the last few years. Record shops were always more than retail outlets, they are part of our culture; they support new bands and local talent. A place for musicians and music fans to congregate, to browse away a few hours, to walk away with music they didn’t know existed".

For me walking away with music I didn't know existed is what it is all about. Only independent record stores can provide that experience and Graham Jones asks "Can you spread the word on Last Shop Standing? Any promotion via twitter/Facebook and Linkedin is appreciated". Below is video footage from Diskery Records in Birmingham. There are postcards from another record store here.



Also on Facebook and Twitter. Photo 2 is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2012. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

Dale said...

Must be (have been) great fun. Still, for some of us, including myself here in rural North Dakota USA, the Amazon click has led to many musical experiences we'd otherwise not have had.