Friday, February 15, 2013
Whatever happened to classical music’s long tail?
If you read On An Overgrown Path you will be affected by news in the French press that Harmonia Mundi are to close half of their thirty stores in France. Their boutiques specialise in classical, world and jazz CDs, and have provided many of the serendipitous finds that have given this blog its distinctive personality over the years. My header photo shows the Harmonia Mundi store in Nantes, where my many discoveries have included Abed Azrié’s The Gospel of John that featured in Klinghoffer’s Syrian Connection and also Ali Reza Ghorbani's settings of Rumi, while only yesterday I featured a CD by lutenist José Miguel Moreno, a musician whose recordings I first discovered in the Harmonia Mundi boutique in Avignon many years ago. Last year I started a post by saying “Harmonia Mundi's retail stores in France are veritable Aladdin's Caves for hardcore CD collectors” and I went on to enthuse about Joel Frederiksen’s Requiem for a Pink Moon. I discovered that new release in Harmonia Mundi’s Perpignan store and have never seen it displayed or mentioned anywhere else; it is music that has delighted me and I know has also delighted many readers, and these store closures will mean fewer such diverse delights in the future.
Many will defend the rise of internet retailers and the demise of bricks and mortar record stores as inevitable progress. But the great humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam taught that the tyranny of an idea amounts to a declaration of war against freedom of thought, and, in the same way, the tyranny of internet retailing amounts to a declaration of war against freedom of choice. Erasmus also advocated universal access to culture and education, and the arrival of cosmetically “independent” but record company owned and controlled websites such as Sinifini - which is “fully iTunes and Amazon-integrated” - is fast eroding that precious universal access. Progress it may be, but the closure of fifteen Harmonia Mundi boutiques means part of On An Overgrown Path has died.
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