Thursday, September 14, 2006

Clicking to the Oldies


Slate has a bit up on their website (that I discovered via a nice catch at Deceptively Simple) about the top 10 classical music downloads on iTunes. The Slate piece badly wants to say something. You be the judge of what that is.

A few choice quotes:

"..classical music has an uneasy relationship with popularity. Listeners with a passing interest tend to value it for its soothing qualities or, conversely, for its extreme volume."


"With its warhorses and canon of great works, classical music is insulated from a lot of fads. Beethoven's Fifth will probably always be popular, and so will "Carmina Burana." But it's not so far from popular culture that a tenor whose calling card is his biography and who is backed by an effective PR machine can grab the spotlight."

Is it really that isolated from fads? Not judging by the CD covers and marketing ploys you can discover at any Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Ya know Brian Wilson once said something that seems relevant here: "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. One lick and you'll suck for the rest of your life."

On the other hand, check out this fine post on the Chicago Classical Music Blog on adding value to a classical music label's catalog:

"pianist Jorge Federico Osorio told me that for his third project on Cedille Records, he would like to record the complete Debussy Preludes. I had no doubt that his interpretations would stand among the best recorded. However, there are dozens of recordings of these popular Debussy pieces by revered pianists such as Walter Gieseking and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and many, many contemporary performers. I felt our recording would need to offer a new wrinkle on this repertory in order for consumers and critics to take notice. So I asked Mr. Osorio if he could find other piano music that might shed a different light on the Preludes: perhaps something by a composer who influenced Debussy or one who was influenced by the great French impressionist."

Read the rest here.


Jim P said...

The beauty of Jim Ginsburg's approach to creating new recordings is that melds a musical purist's approach with a practical bent. He focuses on great repertory not well represented in current catalogues, recording them with marvelous sound. His recordings have integrity and make artistic sense. Jim did the same thing when he and Rachel Barton Pine recorded the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They paired it with the Joachim Concerto, which made so much artistic sense. It was such a beautifully conceived recording highlighting the vital relationship between the two composers and their musical links. Plus, there are so few good current recordings of the Joachim that it became a very attractive pairing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for linking to my post on I'm glad and honored that you found my/Cedille Records' approach to recording so worthy of note.

The Well Tempered Blog said...

jim p, I agree ! It's that kind of originality and creativity that keeps music lovers happy!

The Well Tempered Blog said...

Jim Ginsburg,

It's great post and couldn't pass on sharing it with readers of my humble blog. Keep up the good work ! And I look forward to more posts from you on's blog.

Best, Bart