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CLASSICAL  October 2007

CLASSICAL October 2007

Subject:

Re: Collecting Niches

From:

Olivier Solanet <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 15:44:43 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (125 lines)

I should preface my post by stating that I haven't thoroughly been
following this thread thus far.  As such, I apologise if the following
has already been posited...

Ray Bayles wrote:

>But I still meet people who have a large percentage of their CD
>collection
>still unopened.  Are they merely showing off.  I do not dare ask.

Having briefly skimmed through the sundry posts on this subject, several
questions keep coming to my baffled mind:

Why would anyone want so many different interpretations of any singular
work?

To me, if one has a predilection for a particular piece of music - as I
presume we all do - wouldn't the superlative interpretations be the only
ones sought?  I of course intend superlative to be entirely subjective,
as we all listen with different pairs of ears...

There are several genres of music I enjoy.  Though my library counts
roughly 85-90% Classical music, I also regularly listen to Jazz, Rock,
Electronic music, as well as that incomprehensibly amalgamated puddle
known only as "World" music.  I can only classify what I listen to as
"Good" music, regardless of genre - or "Good" performances in CM.  By
"Good", I mean any music which has depth beyond a glossy plasticity.
This is why I don't generally like Pop music - nor performers like
Lang Lang...

If anything, I feel that my study and appreciation of CM has only
heightened my appreciation of "Good" music in other genres.  Also,
just because it's CM does not by default make it good [sic].  I believe
that the study of music theory - more prevalent in conservatories than
in the garages of up and coming rock bands - also better helps us to
appreciate "Good" music.  A hemiola, augmentation, diminution, 3:2, or
5:4 rhythm in CM is accepted as normal, whereas it strikes a listener
as fascinating in genres within which 4/4 meter and the key of D Major
are as rampant as the pedal point in the second movement of the first
Brahms piano concerto is long.

The above now said, I again ask the same question:

Why would anyone want so many different interpretations of any
singular work?

Surely 100 interpretations of the same work can't all be good!  As far
as I'm concerned, I don't want to be bothered with poor performances of
a work that is dear to me, as I consider it an insult to the work itself.
There are a handful of works that I love more than all the rest in CM.
Of these works I own perhaps three to five different interpretations
at most - the ones I consider to be the best.

Rather than collecting works, I collect performers - again, those whom
I consider to be the best.  I blindly purchase all of their albums because
I love their work, and yet, even *they* are capable of disappointing on
the rare occasion.  As my instrument is the piano, here are the pianists
whose discographies I own in their entirety:

Grigory Sokolov
Martha Argerich
Mikhail Pletnev
Nikolai Lugansky
Pascal Roge
Yevgeny Sudbin
Alexandre Tharaud

On the orchestral front, I own the entire discographies of my two
favourite conductors:

Pierre Boulez
Mikhail Pletnev

As far as orchestras themselves go, I feel the conductor plays such a
primordial role in shaping their sound that I don't believe an orchestra
in and of itself can be reliably qualified.  The only orchestra whose
entire discography I own is the Russian National Orchestra.

Also, I do at times come across relatively unknown performers who have
just as sensational an impact on me as those who are world renowned.
Thus begins the query into the rest of their repertoire if they are
recording artists.

Why I collect performers instead of works is because it is my favourite
performers who are most likely to enthrall me - though as stated, this
is not always the case.  For example, Beethoven and Mahler are two
composers whom I can hardly consider to be among my favourites.  I
*generally* find Beethoven vulgar and Mahler a dreadful bore. We've
already picked this fight before, so I emphasize the word *generally*
so as not to start a new one!  That said, I purchased Pletnev's and the
RNO's very recent complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concerti cycle
- I had to go Paris to get the newest disc (2nd and 4th concerti) because
I have no idea what the idiot running Deutsche Grammophon's US distribution
is doing but I feel as though everything comes out ages in advance back
in Europe....  (When I rang up Universal Music Group's offices here in
the city to enquire about US release dates, no one even seemed to know
what DG was!!!) Nevertheless, for those who didn't already know, you now
have a new Beethoven symphonies cycle to go out and buy.  As for Mahler,
I own all of Boulez's Mahler recordings - except for the 8th symphony
which is scheduled to be released in Europe 'round now, and??? in the US.

Thus, although I'm certain they are not the only ones to be able to do
so, Pletnev and Boulez have managed to open my ears to *certain* works
of two composers of whose recordings I would normally ignore entirely...

***

To return to Ray Bayles' question "[...] are they merely showing
off [their CD collection still unopened]?" Is this to say that some
people collect CDs as one would stamps?  Seems like rather an expensive
collecting habit to me.  Moreover, why would anyone buy a CD which they
didn't plan on hearing?  Do people do this with works ...  just to
have them?

That's simply preposterous!

olivier solanet
[log in to unmask]
www.oliviersolanet.com

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