Sunday, March 22, 2015


One of the more depressing consequences of delivering music through downloads is that no one seems to care very much about physical packaging any more. Still, in my own writing for, I still encounter a fair share of physical media; so I think I now have enough experience to offer what I hope is a judicious mixture of rant and praise. That major target of rant is not a new one. What Sony has done, particularly when it involves both classical and jazz recordings in the Columbia library, is orders of magnitude beyond reprehensible. About the only explanation I can come up with is that there is some kind of corporate policy that music exists only for background purposes, which puts the whole corporate mindset at odds with my mission, which is to encourage attentive listening among my readers.

I cannot say that any particular label has managed to stay on the positive side consistently. Where large collections are concerned, I like products that facilitate search. Labels like BMG reissues of RCA tend to be good about such things, although it did not take me long to find an item missing from the Toscanini index. Then there are the oversize collections with a booklet that is roughly the size of an old album for a twelve-inch LP. RCA had one of these for Ellington, and Deutsche Gramophon (DG) had one for their Karajan collection. Both of these were so poorly bound that they fell apart the first time they were opened. The index pages were great, but you had to get to the track listing page with considerable delicacy! On the other hand I have been really happy with the DG complete Brahms collection and the DG collection of Bach's organ music originally released on Archiv.

Still, the bottom line is that no one cares about these things any more, perhaps working from the premise that an uninformed listener is a better instinct buyer.

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