Monday, 30 March 2009

My Classical Music Collection


My classical music collection originally started on ye olde lp record and for a brief period went to cassettes as their quality improved in the early 1980's.
The first classical cd I bought was one of Sibelius's tone poems by the Berlin Philharmonic followed by a Lalo disc in 1986.
Back then cd's were quite expensive £12.49 or more and many discs only contained one major work say Beethoven's 5th Symphony running for about 35 minutes performances that were also often were mid or budget price tapes and lp's so I didn't get anymore .
In 1987 four years after the introduction of cd in Europe, the first Mid Price discs started to come out and the then PolyGram companies - DG, Decca and Philips - issued a series often adding extra works to improve the value for money.
That was when I first made a head start adding titles by Mozart, Handel, Stravinsky (The Rite Of Spring) and Holst.
By 1988 Naxos had pioneered the budget price new digitally recorded cd and I picked up several in that series made using Eastern European orchestras but the big push was 1991 and the anniversary of Mozart's birth which DG celebrated in style with the Mozart Masterpieces collection of 25 cd's all at budget price many of which had been previously on more expensive labels.
I bought a shedload of them at the time and they remain the hub of my Mozart collection featuring the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras and leading DG pianists and violin players from the 60's to the early 1980's.
It was around this period I discovered Anne Sophie Mutter although many over here in England were more taken by Nigel Kennedy whose recording of the Four Seasons by Vivaldi was one of the top selling albums of 1989/90 and I bought several discs of her performances.
I picked up some budget DG issues that although lacking narratives contained great performances the Tone poems of Brahms, Richard Strauss, ballet favourites and Beethoven's Violin Concerto.
I went mad in 1992 buying the compete DG 1963 Beethoven Symphonies (Berlin P.O. Herbert von Karajan) and the City of Birmingham S.O recordings with Simon Rattle of Sibelius's symphonies on EMI. I topped up the Beethoven with a complete set of his Piano Concertos and some solo Piano pieces.
In 1993 I added to my lone 1987 full price buy - the Grieg Peer Gynt suite (Academy of St Martins in the Fields) - adding his Symphonic Dances and Violin Sonatas followed in '96 by the Piano Concerto (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra).

I also made a bit of a start on American Classics by Ives, Copland and Barber which I had loved from high school even if some think nothing American is fit to put on the same level as 19th and 20th century European composers.
Naxos that budget label I mentioned earlier had by then taken on the mantle of recording the less popular tackling in a systematic way all this material and it hadn't been unnoticed that they recordings were often as good as or even better than the traditional majors such as Sony (CBS), EMI and DG/Philips/Decca. In fact they were to become the one of the two largest companies recording the classics! I got the complete Falloni set of Schubert symphonies issued in 1994/5 they did and some titles from the Iceland Symphony orchestras Sibelius cycle of 1999/2000.
Currently I am building on this collection having added complete series of Mozart's Quintets and Quartets and have replaced a couple of older discs that gave me the 'bare bones' of the piece didn't really satisfy.
Unfortunately a few of my discs bought in 1991/2 are going bronzed due to a cd pressing plant problem that could cut short their life so am investigating replacements.

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