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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du Disque (August 2013) - Part 1

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Because I am intertwining some personal anecdotes to today's Chronique, I will skip the usual reminder of how we do things around here. If Sound Quality (SQ) and Overall Impression (OI) grades need further context, feel free to visit earlier posts in this series.

My Acquisitions for August

HUMMEL: Piano Trios Nos. 1, 5 and 7

Austria's Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) was a contemporary of Beethoven and was an important composer from the late Classical period primarily known for his solo piano compositions, piano (and trumpet) concertos. In recent years, however, attention has been given to his chamber music, operas, and sacred works. This recording of some of his trios shows why; the works are very formulaic, yet a certain freshness exudes from them, maybe becauise they are simply less heard... The Borodin trio is made up of violinist Rostislav and pianist Luba Edlina Dubinsky with the late cellist Yuli Turovsky and they offer these trios with conviction and great synergy, QS = A, OI = A.

Once Upon a Time...

...not so long ago, the only way one could acquire recorded music was to visit a music (AKA a record) store. Back in those days, a trip to the record store was something I looked forward to with great trepidation and excitement. Browsing through the racks of vinyl, fingers gently tipping LPs, as if turning the pages of a great novel. Sometimes, I would pick up the record, flip the cover and read the notes explaining all about the works and the performers. Such joy! Such glee!

LPs and tapes gave way to CDs, which threw a wrench on the entire experience. Now, all you had was a 6-inch by 6-inch cover, encased in a plastic box, with only track names to guide your selection. But even that was OK - Flip away, Pierre, flip away and browse until you're blue in the face. I can't recall the number of times I would simply walk into a record store, spend what seemed like an afternoon browsing titles, and sometimes would leave without purchasing anything. Like I said, it was about the adventire, not necessarily about the spoils.

And then, something funny happened. Gone were Sam the Record Man, Gone were A & A Recirds and Tapes. Only a few mjor outlets survived, mostly by diversifying their collections of music by adding films - like HMV here in North America.

And specialized Classical Music record stores? I'm sur ethey still exist, but they are certainly off the beaten path and hard to find. The big, flagship stores still have what oine would call sizeable CM sections - like the one at the Virgin Store I visited in San Francisco must've been a decade ago, and the third floor of the HMV store on Yonge street, just North of Dundas, in Toronto.

And so, when my wife, daughter and I went to Toronto a few weeks ago, after I made sure they were set-up for a morning of shopping at Toronto's Eaton Centre, I escaped for my own pilgrimage to said HMV store. Yikes, how things have changed (in just a couple of years). Don't get me wrong - the selection is far better than anything I've seen in recent years, but the old "closed off" section (where the music enticed you to shop for the classics) is now all Rap and Hip-Hop, and the Classical displays (maybe two walls and a pair of display islands) are a far cry from what the store used to hold. As for the personnel, a (very pregnant) lady was asking for a CD of soft piano music and the poor sap had no clue what to suggest - good thing I was there to help her.

Part 2 of this extended Chronique explores the stuff I found at the store (4 albums for under $50 Canadian).

Updated Aug-27-2013 at 10:27 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music