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Building a Library?

4884 Views 68 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Guest002
I recently posted here about my sprawling collection of seldom-listened-to Tchaikovsky and got some excellent suggestions about what might be the 'core' Tchaikovsky repertoire, and what might be the most recommended performances of said repertoire. A pile of dross hit the bin in response, and I feel I've got a worthwhile, discoverable collection to work on going forward.

I wonder if I've missed similar threads about other composers? And if I haven't, whether it might not be a bad idea to put some together?

I notice my Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Schubert collections, for example, are similarly sprawling, 'completist' and thus seldom listened to. If, instead of having everything those three wrote (from one Brilliant boxed set or another, which seldom contain the absolute finest recordings of anything), I could whittle things down to the must-haves performed by the must-listens, I think that would be progress!

That's conceptually different from the posts we often see about 'what's the best recording of X?' or from the 'lists of top composers' or 'lists of top pieces' we also see. This is more: here's a composer, here is his/her greatest works, and here are a few suggestions for great recordings of each.

Anyway. Just thought I'd throw it out there!
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I’m not sure how relevant this is.
To those of us of a certain age our first exposure to classical music was probably out parent’s record collection on 78 rpm shellac. Given the size of the records and the space they took up and their fragility most collections were fairly small. My favourite composer was Mendelssohn because Mum had been given the violin concerto and I loved it. Then the overture to Barber of Seville. And Pirates of Penzance because we had an 11 record album. There was no systematic exploration of a composer.
Then I acquired a four speed turntable for the radiogram and started buying the very occasional Bargain or second hand LP with saved up pocket money. Ace of clubs, saga and fidelity with their pseudonyms. And the lunchtime concerts by the BBC orchestras on the home service. And then Saturday night concerts at the Town Hall sitting behind the orchestra. Gradually I acquired composers whose music I knew I was likely to enjoy. And because concerts included more than one work I got to know other composers. The first concert I ever attended included Bruckner’s 7th which started a dislike of that composer which persists to this day. About the 3rd concert included Mozart’s 40th and Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto, neither of which I knew at the time. And I remember sitting by the gong in Francesca di Rimini. Happy days.
I guess what I’m saying is that most of the music I got to know was met in a haphazard manner and without planning. Even the records I bought were probably as a result of the radio or what was played in music lessons at school. And the City Library Record Section which came along later was a godsend.
Now I am retired I probably have far too many CDs in sets. And yes I’ve bought the Brilliant complete sets and tend to listen only to the works I know, there is often a good reason why some works are popular, and the large single composer compilations, thankfully not the complete works, by great artists of the last century.
But the idea of listening to everything a composer wrote in an organised manner seems abhorrent. Music is enjoyed best on a haphazard basis although I’m not too old to make new discoveries which I enjoy. I recently heard a ciolin concerto by Nardini which has a beautiful first movement but the rest of which left me cold.
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