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Thread: Your Best "Blind" Purchase?

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    Default Your Best "Blind" Purchase?

    There are three different kinds of "blind" purchases:

    1) When you buy a recording and know, and probably like, that composer's music. You just haven't heard the music on this recording;

    2) When you buy a recording of a composer you have heard of, but have never heard any music by the composer; and

    3) When you throw a dart and buy a recording of a composer you've never even heard of.

    *My best blind purchase: Shostakovich's 5th Symphony played by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Leonard Bernstein (1959). I probably purchased this around 1990. This was my best blind purchase because it falls under category #3.

    I began purchasing classical recordings in my early 20's. I was familiar with very little classical music, only iconic pieces that are well-known in pop culture, and most of my purchases fell under the first two categories. I had heard of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Bach, Tchaikovsky, etc., and wanted to hear their music, or hear more of their music because I liked the few pieces I knew. At the time I was a student on a tight budget, so nearly all the recordings I bought were under a budget series by CBS Records called "Great Performances." The cassettes were about $3.00, and the cover looked like a newspaper headline. They promised critically acclaimed recordings of the basic repertoire, and they lived up to that promise. I was impressed with every purchase I made under that label and one day saw another in the series who's headline read, "The Famous 1959 Recording!" I had no idea who Shostakovich was, but since CBS' Great Performances had always delivered, I plunked down the $3 and crossed my fingers. Good move. I had never heard anything remotely like this music and quickly became a big Shostakovich fan. All of this based on a dart throw into the unknown.

    SO, what was your best "blind" purchase of a classical recording? It can fall into any of the three aforementioned categories.
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Oct-28-2020 at 20:01.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    "*My best blind purchase: Shostakovich's 5th Symphony played by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Leonard Bernstein (1959). I probably purchased this around 1990. This was my best blind purchase because it falls under category #3."

    I share this same experience and recording, though I bought it around 1959 as an LP. Add to that Bernstein's roughly contemporaneous LP of Bartok's amazing, wonderful Concerto for Orchestra, purchased at about the same time. Then, the whole world of CM was new and opening up to me.

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    Senior Member Azol's Avatar
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    Definitely the CD of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony by Giulini / VPO on DGG. That was like half my life ago I haven't heard a note of it and all I knew about Bruckner was some random excerpt I heard on the radio, someone talking about different versions of B7 Adagio and short snippets to illustrate the points. So I was spellbound and ran to the music shop (remember music shops? Brick and mortar ones) but all they had was this DGG CD of B9 so I grabbed that in a heartbeat.
    Oh boy, was I just steamrolled by the music and the performance? I was nearly entranced during the Adagio and the pillars of sound like tsunami rode over me. That was the experience I treasure to this day.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Back in the mid 2000s I wasn't really familiar with too much string quartet music (much preferring symphonies/ orchestral music) apart from the odd warhorse (Debussy, Ravel, Schubert, etc). I knew Dvorak's 12th quartet from an ex-library Hagen disc I had, and liked, but I'd never had been inclined to explore any other quartets of his. Whilst in Manchester City Centre, I walked in HMV, picked up the Panocha Complete Quartets cycle, admired the box, and then bought it (it was on offer for £30+) totally on a whim. Its remained one of my favourite sets of cds and one of the finest SQ cycles I've got.
    Last edited by Merl; Oct-28-2020 at 20:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Back in the mid 2000s I wasn't really familiar with too much string quartet music (much preferring symphonies/ orchestral music) apart from the odd warhorse (Debussy, Ravel, Schubert, etc). I knew Dvorak's 12th quartet from an ex-library Hagen disc I had, and liked, but I'd never had been inclined to explore any other quartets of his. Whilst in Manchester City Centre, I walked in HMV, picked up the Panocha Complete Quartets cycle, admired the box, and then bought it (it was on offer for £30+) totally on a whim. Its remained one of my favourite sets of cds and one of the finest SQ cycles I've got.
    I had the exact same experience with that set of Dvorak recordings by the Panocha St.Qt. I only knew the "American" quartet and had the Emersons recording of it. After buying the Panocha set, the "American" quartet became my least favorite of the last 5-6 quartets by Dvorak.

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    My best blind purchase was a Naxos disc of the violin concertos of Weinberg and Myaskovsky. I had heard of the two composers but not heard a note of their music. Loved the disc on first hearing and continue to enjoy it greatly.

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    I love the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and will often buy recordings of music I don't know which have a print of one of his pictures on the front of the booklet. A good few years ago this led me to my first of what are now a number of recordings of Hans Rott's Symphony in E major, the original recording by Gerhard Samuel and the Cincinnnati Philharmonia, a student band which acquits itself very well indeed on this recording. It isn't the CD I'd recommend now (that nomination goes to Paavo Jarvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony) but I retain a real affection for it and still enjoy giving it an occasional spin.

    As an aside, how weird am I for loving this symphony but being unable to enjoy Mahler's?
    Last edited by Animal the Drummer; Oct-28-2020 at 20:19.

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    My best where all the recommendations by JoeB and eljr in their insight in the music they love and a few others with other different repertoire .
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

    "Liberté, égalité, fraternité"

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    To be contrary, my worst blind purchase happened in my teens. The BSO was my home orchestra and I tended to buy their new releases if it was a work I didn't know. Leinsdorf just recorded the Bruckner Fourth. I had never heard any Bruckner, nor could I know it was a bad recording. Put it on, heard what sounded to me like 5 minutes of aimless noodling, skipped ahead to the slow movement -- same deal. Turned over to the scherzo. Heard all those little fanfares with puzzlement, got to the place where the rock falls back down the mountain and said aloud to myself "That's a helluva 'scherzo'." Didn't even try the finale, and didn't return to Bruckner for several years. :-)

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    "*My best blind purchase: Shostakovich's 5th Symphony played by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Leonard Bernstein (1959). I probably purchased this around 1990. This was my best blind purchase because it falls under category #3."
    I bought the 5th in 1984 on the same day I bought my first CD player. Telarc classical CDs were the only recordings the audio store carried and I needed something to play when I got home. I'd never heard a note of Shostakovich before that day. I ended up buying about 25 more Telarc titles which launched my classical listening experience.

    Another great blind purchase was Ligeti's Clear or Cloudy box on DG. I've since picked up two more boxes on Sony and Teldec. And I can say the same for many other 20th century composers including Lutoslawski, Messiaen, Schnittke, Dutilleux, Gerhard, Hindemith, Berg, Schoenberg, Takemitsu, etc... Never heard a note of their music before I dove in.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    I suppose most of my impulse purchases come under the second category and were during the early days of my collecting via mail order companies before I had internet access either at home or at work.

    Schnittke - viola concerto and cello concerto no.1 on the Regis budget label - they were immediate hits with me and set me on Schnittke's trail. I can't recall why I went for Schnittke as I certainly didn't know anyone who had heard anything by him. I can only assume I must have been swayed by his mini-biography in one of the old Gramophone year books.

    Bruckner's 5th symphony (Abbado) and Shostakovich's complete symphonies (Haitink) are especially memorable, but at least I knew more about these two composers, if not their work, before taking the plunge. The Shostakovich box set was more of a gamble because it was quite pricey back then but some of the symphonies clicked quite quickly with me, and slowly but surely assimilating the others was reward in itself.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    My best blind purchase was the Bruckner symphonies by Georg Tintner.

    I first heard Bruckner from Solti's recording of the 5th symphony, and I thought Bruckner was horrible - long, boring, overdone. Then I stumbled on the Naxos Bruckner White Box for $10 at a used CD store and took a chance. This completely changed my perspective on Bruckner and turned me into a fan. Now I have, I don't know, maybe 12 box sets and a ton of singles.

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    Britten/Rostropovich/ 'Arpeggione'. I'd heard of both the performers but never the piece. It just blew me away and sparked for me what became a growing interest in Schubert's (and eventually other composers) chamber music.

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