Where did the classical go?

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by cookiemonster, Oct 18, 2003.

  1. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster

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    I was a bit peed off today.

    Went over to Reading for a bit of shopping only to discover that HMV have demolished their classical listening room (walls and everything!), and stuffed a load of DVD's in its place. What is going on. The classical music has now been relegated to a few racks in with the rest of the other stuff.

    It's still better than Slough branch - they have one rack of classical music - and that is mainly filled with HMV's own label and a few bloody 'Classical Chillout' CD's.

    Looks like i'll have to stick to buying off the internet. :rolleyes:

    Are classical music sales dwindling further? I have always liked those dedicated rooms they have in selected HMV stores, and now they are knocking them down. :(
     
    cookiemonster, Oct 18, 2003
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  2. cookiemonster

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    That's the price to pay for a consumer driven economy. Over here there are still classic rooms, but it is true most trade is carried through the internet.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Oct 19, 2003
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  3. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    That's the situation with most record shops in Switzerland. Only Hug (Switzerland's biggest record retailer) and some specialist shops keep the classical (and also jazz) flag flying. Let's face it; these are now well and truly minority tastes, and we shouldn't be surprised at the development. You wanna make money, you gotta move CDs and ya move a whole lot more pop/rock than ya do classical/jazz. Sad, but that's musical life in the 21st century.
     
    tones, Oct 19, 2003
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  4. cookiemonster

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Buy a tt with the rest of your profits Cookie and then buy classical off Ebay; ) that's where I get most of mine from We have two superb shops in Manchester for classical music, but it is really expensive. They obviously have to make a profit from what is a minority market. One of the two is Forsyths, the other is Gibbs brothers, a bookshop that has a superb classical section. Otherwise Amazon is your oyster, but it can take ages for stuff to arrive, they don't carry massive stocks.
     
    lordsummit, Oct 19, 2003
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  5. cookiemonster

    Herman

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    plinkety ploinkers

    What worries me is that in the pop / rock world CDs are clearly on their way out, and very likely some kind of form of net downloading is going to be the medium of the future. You pay .99 for a song and download it.

    Classical music doesn't consist of three minute songs, unless we are going back to the 78 rpm world were everything is chopped up in tracks. (In the Basque village where Ravel spent his down time a guy had the Bolero on seven or eight 78s, and Ravel marvelled how the guy enjoyed this piece this way.)

    Plus in most classical music you really want a little more resolution than what you get via downloading. But surely they are not going to keep CD or SACD (another alleged medium of the future) alive for a couple of classical plinkety ploinkers - look at the HMV store.

    Herman
     
    Herman, Oct 20, 2003
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  6. cookiemonster

    GrahamN

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    Unfortunately I think HMV are doing this pretty much all over the country (there was been much wailing, rending of teeth and gnashing of garments on the R3 Classical Forum over this a month or two ago). There are a number of problems:
    1) internet sales are much cheaper (I rarely pay more than £10 for full price recordings now, vs £16 or more in a store
    2) there is an enormous range of recordings now available that no shop could affort to stock - particularly with hundreds of (allegedly) acceptable recordings now from the late 40s and early 50s now coming our of copyright and being dehissed and reissued in cleaned up form, and tens of new labels starting up each week!
    3) internet stocks are MUCH wider-ranging

    (Oh forget Amazon, unless you just have to have it yesterday. I get all my more obscure stuff from www.mdt.co.uk or mainstream from www.bclub.co.uk - which works out even cheaper provided you buy about 10 discs at a time)

    The only decent classical music shop in Guildford went under about 3 years ago, after about 18 years of trading. I have to say I didn't buy much from them though because they rarely had the recording I wanted, even they though had a fairly good stock. They would order it specially, but for about another £2 on top. The main advantage of a real shop was that you could actually listen to the disc to see whether it was what you wanted, but with the demise of the listening booths they had in my tender years there was a limit to the amount of operatic wailing or modernist plink-plonks you could subject the rest of the shop to - and you could never play it loud enough anyway ;) . I buy far more now over the internet that I ever bought over the counter.

    Herman - there was an interesting interview with Peter Maxwell Davies the other week. When his music was deleted en masse by Decca(?) he had the right to buy the masters - which is what he sold his house to do. He's just launched an internet service where you can either download full works, or send in a prescription to him (rather his company) of what you want to go on a 74 minute CD-ROM, and they'll then burn it for you, and mail it to you, complete with liner notes, for about £4. With broadband connections it's certainly feasible to download a CD overnight (or thereabouts). Downloading a full DVD may be more of an issue at present though.

    The advantage of this kind of stuff is that it would be possible for material to be made available cheaply in whatever (OK digital) format the customer likes. Programmable processors (e.g. PCs or replacements) with decent soundcards can then render with the latest and most appropriate CODEC.

    The copyrighting issue is the thorny one. It's interesting to see all the classical recording business turning into a cottage industry (seemingly hundreds of small independents springing up all the time), just at the time when Sony are forcing huge scale runs of SACD by their protected glass-mastering policy.

    I certainly wouldn't be happy with just an on-line service though. Aside from the quality issue, there's availability. At least with CD/vinyl you've got something permanent - so when the company feels like ditching the symphonies of Arnold Bax or Vagn Holmboe for the latest doodling from Bond, Russell Watson (or whoever they confuse with a real musician) at least you can still play your own discs.
     
    GrahamN, Oct 21, 2003
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  7. cookiemonster

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Re: Re: Where did the classical go?

    Hug in Switzerland get over this problem by providing batteries of CD players with heaphones (two headphones per player) with independently regulable volume controls (QED). So, no listening problems at all.
     
    tones, Oct 22, 2003
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  8. cookiemonster

    Herman

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    Re: Re: Where did the classical go?

    I guess that's the way it will go with classical "software" - all these little specialty labels, and ordering stuff via the web (which most of us are doing anyway). In this scenario the problem will still be Maxwell Davies' case (who recorded with Collins - not a really big label).

    Reissuing old recordings and solo recitals is an entirely different business proposition from making the premiere recording of an ambitious contemporary composer who writes a 90-personnel symphony. Even the burgeoning orchestra home labels (e.g. LSO and SFS) are not likely to do this any time soon.

    So I'm still worried.

    Herman
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2003
    Herman, Oct 22, 2003
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  9. cookiemonster

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Anyone know the web address for Peter Maxwell Davies stuff. I've been meaning to get some of his stuff for ages.
     
    lordsummit, Oct 22, 2003
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  10. cookiemonster

    Herman

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    maxopus.com
     
    Herman, Oct 22, 2003
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  11. cookiemonster

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Cheers Graham, £70 down now. Bernstein conducts himself, Lydia Mordkovitch playing various violin sonatas. The essential Stravinsky, and La Boheme. Shouldn't have got up this morning!
    MDT is one most excellent site:cool:
     
    lordsummit, Oct 22, 2003
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  12. cookiemonster

    HenryT

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    Re: Re: Where did the classical go?

    The exact reasons why I haven't purchased brand new classical CDs from a shop in years and why I prefer to buy on-line. The prime motivation is reason 1 though. Gone are the days when I was paying £15 for a full price release becuase there was no where else to get the same title for cheaper from.

    Graham introduced me to MDT about a year or so ago, it was a revealation to see all those CDs that I'd previously paid £15+ for now at £10. Not looked back since

    I think the only time I've bought a brand new classical release in the past 2 years from shop rather than on-line was in the case where the on-line price and shop price were the same and I really wanted the disc without having to wait around.

    Not been to Reading in a while now, but don't rememeber the HMV there having a dedicated classical area seperated by walls from the rest of the (upstairs?). How's the Virgin Mega Store these day, don't they still have a dedicated closed off area for classical? I guess you'll have to start making some trips to the mega stores in London (HMV and Virgin), always find myself in heaven in these places - but mainly go to browse and listen at the listening posts rather than buy due to the prices. :)
     
    HenryT, Oct 22, 2003
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  13. cookiemonster

    cookiemonster

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    Yes, it was a dedicated room - on the ground floor - walls, the lot - now sadly demolished to make way for yet more DVD's and stuff.

    Not been to Virgin for a long time.

    I hate commuting into London - public transport, loads of people etc, not my cup of tea :( - i'd rather walk if i had to go in - and it holds no attractions for me anyway, unless visiting someone. But hey, too far, and parking is a pipe dream, or a remortgage, hence stay at home, or venture into Reading. I actually live nearer to Slough in no mans land. Slough itself is a dump, and i rarely go there.

    Similar to most, the bulk of my purchases come from the internet, primarily for cost considerations.
     
    cookiemonster, Oct 22, 2003
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  14. cookiemonster

    GrahamN

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    Yes...alway dangerous around the end of a label sale. I dropped £240 there the other day - still I had been restraining myself for about 9 months (no need to talk about the 2nd hand sites I've been hitting instead :shame: ). Finally got around to getting the Tubin 1st symphony and Vanska's Sibelius 3 from BIS - and accidentally ended up with two more of their Holmboe cycle as well. Principally went to get the new Handley Bax cycle from Chandos, but then also ended up with a load of additional British stuff, including the Bliss suite from "Things to Come" which came over so well at the Proms (as well as Thea Musgrave's "Helios"). For some ethereal stuff I finally got around to the Feldman "Rothko Chapel" I've been promising myself for about 18 months, and some more Part choral. And just to balance things up (can't be all 20th Cent), scored a load of the recently highly recommended Vivaldi and Corelli from Podger, Manze , Alessandrini et al. - along with some Mexican baroque stuff.

    A few happy hours to come soon! And I really must get around to putting up those extra shelves I've been avoiding for so long.
     
    GrahamN, Oct 22, 2003
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  15. cookiemonster

    SteveC PrimaLuna is not cheese

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    Please let us know how you like them ... I enjoyed the Feldman Something Wild and have a few Pärt myself.
     
    SteveC, Oct 23, 2003
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  16. cookiemonster

    GrahamN

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    Re: Re: Re: Where did the classical go?

    I sometimes wonder whether it would help if ambitious contemporary composers actually composed stuff people would like to hear ;) . Actually read a quote from William Alwyn in the sleeve notes of his 5th Symphony I was listening to today that: "I hear it in my head and it exists on paper. But it has no living reality unless there is an orchestra to play it - and this is most important - an audience to hear it"

    Actually the small labels seem to be doing a fairly good job of covering the whole spectrum - although recordings of the larger orchestral pieces do seem to require support from special interest groups, such as composers fan clubs - sorry "societies". Or recordings of live concerts.

    I was quite interested to see on the Maxwell Davies site that he's been commissioned to write a cycle of 10 string quartets (2 a year for 5 years starting last year)....by Naxos of all people! The first three have now been performed at the Wigmore, but the first recording is not due out until next year. Still not big stuff....but I actually find that atonal music suits smaller groups anyway (or maybe atonal music from smaller groups suits me better).

    One CD I will be probably be getting before long is that Tuur Violin Concerto - and people like Adams and Rautavaara don't seem to have too much trouble getting recorded, Salonen and Torke make it from time to time. Actually thinking about it, it's still the Finnish speakers who are showing the way - along with the Estonians above, there's also Part, Aho, Saariaho...erm...that's enough anyway.
     
    GrahamN, Oct 23, 2003
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