Bad, and The Horrible
Before I go on any further, I must explain something. You will
that most of my recommendations for a recording will be under
the Deutsche Grammophon (DG) label. There is a good reason for
it. The DG label has almost always delivered a superior
performance by a superior artist. I
learned early on that a poor performance can ruin a piece of
music. Telarc is always good technically and that is a big plus,
but it is the music that you want to listen to. For example, I am
sure you have heard
a midi file on a computer, and with that in mind, you now know
what a poor performance is. When buying music, you may see other
labels in the classical bins, but getting the DG version will almost
always result in great music and a great performance. DG signs the best
artists but they do not have the exclusive rights to every stellar
performer. A few
notable exceptions are Sarah Chang and Helene Grimaude who are not on
the DG label.
Don't buy budget CDs. Not ever.
Either the performance will be poor, the technical aspects poor, or
both. Very very rarely have I heard a good budget CD. In
what you pay for...period. Don't waste your
time or money. Avoid whenever
possible collections like "The
Best Classical Album Ever", "Music for Lovers" or similar titles.
These are just the
sprinkles for the ice cream so to speak. I have tried a few
times to listen to budget releases and in the case where I wasn't
familiar with the music I was completely turned off by the music.
In the cases where I was familiar with the music, I was appalled and
disgusted. When I would purchase a proper recording by a well
known label, the music came
alive and was great. Imagine the movie "Terminator" being acted
by sock puppets
instead of Arnold. Imagine the X-Files that featured Pee-Wee
and Rosie O'Donnell as Mulder and Scully. There is a reason that
some CD's cost $1.99 and it isn't because the company is being generous.
Recently I heard an interview on the radio of a
record producer where the producer admitted that the CDs he made and
not what you would expect. He hired some singers and musicians
and called them "The Original Artists" He sold a ton of
recordings performed by "The Original Artists" on television. Was
scam? You bet. Did they get many complaints.
No. But I am willing to bet that the majority of people that
bought them were
not 100% happy
More recently I listened to a program that aired on BBC-4 that
another type of scam. It was much less offensive but it was a
scam none the less. Years ago there were a few outstanding
made by totally fictitious conductors and musicians. They were
fantastic. What would happen is that a very well known orchestra
would be under contract to a particular label. Along would come
this budget label and offer them cash and anonymity for a
People being people, the musicians and conductor would eagerly make a
performance would generally be stellar (money is a great motivator) and
in one case the "fictitious" conductor
and orchestra won the UK equivalent of a Grammy for best classical
recording of the year. That was a rare exception and never
budget. It is poor economy.
Helene Grimaud to a recording contract. I wonder if she signed a
lifetime contract as
Kristian Zimerman did. I think I would.