Why has this never been on CD?

Now I’d like to ask – and this could throw up some interesting ideas – about the recordings most in need of CD reissue that have never made it to silver disc before. It might be rare repertoire or under-appreciated artists. Also, are you happy with ‘downloads only’ (the audio equivalent of ebooks) or do you still prefer the idea of collectable discs?

20 thoughts on “Why has this never been on CD?

  1. The problem here is keeping up to date. Independents, like Haydn House, are transferring a lot of classic LP recordings to CD. But one that springs to mind that I haven’t seen on CD is Berglund’s Nielsen 5 with the Bournemouth Symphony Orch (EMI). Then there’s Charles Groves’s Dvorak 6, also EMI. Of course, we all have our personal obsessions. The Kalliwoda First Symphony that used to be played on Radio 3 in the 1970s has not, I think, been transferred (Candide, with the Tomasek First Piano Concerto). I gave up waiting and did a rough and ready transfer myself.

    Melodya had a series called ‘Live Recordings of Outstanding Musicians’. You can still find the LPs on eBay – there’s an interesting Brahms 3 with Szell and the Cleveland (1965), for example; and there’s Mehta and the Montreal SO doing Dvorak 7. There must be lots of these recordings: have any of them ever appeared on CD?

    I have two general thoughts on all this.
    First: on the whole, I would be inclined to leave a lot of the early LP material to the independents: I’m thinking here of some of the earliest recordings of, say, Dvorak or Brahms symphonies (with fairly obscure conductors), which would be of great interest to completionists like me but probably wouldn’t secure enough sales to justify the effort and expense involved. In fact, a lot of these recordings are already available as downloads (e.g. emusic), though quality is variable.

    Second: I’m surely not alone in finding the transfers from radio broadcasts or private/public concert recordings of particular interest. The recording of the one and only time that Carlos Kleiber conducted Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is to be treasured.


    1. Rob Cowan

      Thanks Andrew. Commercial recordings-wise I’d especially like to see the set of Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas that Fernando Valenti brought to somewhere near completion for Westminster, some LPs in mono, others in stereo. Although Westminster themselves reissued a 3-cd stereo set (and Naxos have reissued some for download only), I don’t recall that there’s ever been a CD set of the whole sequence.
      As to broadcasts, couldn’t agree more. Celibidache’s LSO concerts at the Royal Festival Hall for starters (I attended a number of them and some were stunning – esp. Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet excerpts) and Charles Groves’s insightful performance of Shostakovich’s Michelangelo songs (with John Shirley-Quirk), still one of the most gripping I’ve ever heard. Talking of George Szell there’s a remarkable Cleveland Pathétique that has yet to see the light of day as a general release.


    2. Ian Julier

      Andrew. The good news is that the wondrous Berglund Nielsen 5 is now available on CD. My flagging vinyl has finally been retired to garage storage. The slightly less happy news is that it is only available in the 13 CD Warner Berglund set (EMI RIP black armband already on…), but it is an amazing set including a couple of new discoveries for me – his Dresden Ma Vlast (extraordinarily potent, full of fire and nature) and the most disarmingly gorgeous performance of Glazunov’s Concert Waltz No.1. It’s a total charmer with a feel-good melody straight out of any composer’s top drawer. No blushes spared by the subtle string glissandi either, and all from Bournemouth too. Who’d have thought it possible? What a conductor!

      Rob. Here’s to your blogosphere with a raised glass and thanks for the invitation to join in. I’m sure it will be a runaway success. Hope you can keep up…


      1. Thanks Ian so much, and agreed 100% about Berglund (esp. Ma vlast and the Glazunov). In fact the best is yet to come. Just today I received (from Testament) a 2001 Berlin PO Shostakovich 8 which on the evidence of what I’ve heard so far is shattering. The coupling, almost equally impressive, is Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds with Mustonen. Incidentally, Warner’s Kubelík Icon box includes his Danish Nielsen 5 … and in a couple of weeks time on R3 Sunday Morning I’m playing a Boston Symphony/Kubelík broadcast of Martinu’s Concerto for two string orchestras, piano and timps. The Philharmonia version is good – but not a patch on its Boston successor.


  2. Giancarlo Gemin

    I think it’s a human instinct to have things around us that is a reflection of ourselves, and CDs, like books and pictures, say so much about our taste in music and how much music means to us as individuals. That’s too important an aspect of my life to be diminished to a file on a computer or electronic device. The music collection is a physical thing, and I think it needs to be so.


  3. Giancarlo Gemin

    Not my area of expertise, but I do remember an LP my Dad had of Fernando Germani playing Bach on The RFH organ. I never saw it on CD – is it frowned upon?


  4. My parents used to have a vinyl recording of two anonymous thirteenth-century Masses (“Missa Salve” from England and “Missa Sancta Maria” from Spain) performed by the Ambrosian Singers and conducted by Denis Stevens. It was released by Dover Publications (better known as a book publisher) in 1965. I remember the “Missa Salve” as being especially beautiful, and have long wanted to hear it again, but alas, the recording never seems to have made it onto CD or download. I even wrote to Dover about it, and they told me they would look into it for me, but I never heard anything more.

    I prefer downloads to CDs, mainly for space reasons.


    1. CDS versus DOWNLOADS
      Thanks Laura. Denis Stevens, there’s a name to conjure with – a fine scholar and writer as well as an excellent musician. I’ve never seen that particular lp, nor a transfer of it, but I’m pretty sure that if I were starting out now on the classical recording front I too would prefer downloads to CDs, and for the very same reason. Possibly ebooks to paper too. It’s strange how the tangible product, and one’s personal attachment to it, pulls us back across the years, enhancing our enjoyment with an extra layer of magic that is nothing whatever to do with the work to hand but more to do with what’s carrying it to us. And I don’t mean hoarding. Anyone agree with that? Best. Rob


      1. Giancarlo Gemin

        Agreed, that “extra layer” is indeed a huge factor. I have LPs from my youth – don’t we all, and yes if I was coming to it now maybe I’d be a downloader… still, I’m happy with my creaking shelves.


  5. Bendor Grosvenor

    CDs for something I want to retain (I find I always lose downloaded files, with computer changes etc.), but otherwise it’s the likes of Spotify all the way.

    That said, I have this fantasy of a fully stocked vinyl library, with the most expensive turntable money can by…


  6. Jonathan

    Hi Rob, Re: CD vs downloads- I don’t have a huge collection of CDs and have only purchased downloads as part of a CD purchase. Storage space is definitely one drawback of CDs but I feel there are several reasons why I’ll keep buying them. First, I can make my own digital copy to listen to while out and about. Second, the lack of sleeve notes with downloads is a big loss for me. I may be wrong here but the few downloads I’ve had didn’t have any. These have been a very useful way of increasing my knowledge, as although I’m a keen listener i lack a formal music education. Whilst variable in detail, the best CD booklets are very informative, adding to my listening pleasure and expanding my knowledge a bit as well. Third, for me putting on a CD demands a certain amount of concentration. Listening on the train/plane via my phone still provides the chance to get lost in the music as well but there is something more purposeful about sitting down at home to listen to a CD that I feel might get lost with just tapping play. Fourth, moving more completely to downloaded music would also mean investing in decent hardware so I can maintain the hifi quality I can enjoy currently.

    Looking forward to seeing how the blog develops Rob.


    1. Good points Jonathan, especially regarding sleeve/booklet notes and concentration. I remember years ago a collector saying to me that 78s were better than LPs because you could only play one Chopin Mazurka at a time. With an LP the temptation is to just keep going … maybe even fall asleep! I’d agree with the term ‘purposeful’ too, taking the time to select, read, load and listen.


  7. I’m happy with lossy downloads for reference, although for high fidelity recordings where CD quality sound is crucial, I make sure that I can access lossless downloads. As for physical release versus downloads, it depends. As you know, many CD reissues are greatly enhanced by booklet notes, artwork, and other elements that provide valuable context, especially in the case of specialized material. For instance, the box set Africa at 78rpm that surveys rare shellac recordings of African music from 1909 until the sixties significantly benefits from its extensive annotations and wonderful art work. On the other hand, I’m sure that many collectors would be happy with high quality straight to download copies of rare early LP piano gems like Paul Baugartner’s Beethoven Diabelli Variations or Lukas Foss’ Bach Sinfonias, while simply grabbing artist information from Wikipedia or other similar sources.


  8. Andrew Achenbach

    Also, Lekeu’s gorgeous Adagio and Fantaisie sur deux airs populaires angevins (now there’s a mouthful – wonderful piece, though!) from the Monte Carlo PO under the late, great Armin Jordan on Erato (early digital era, around 1982 I think …).


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