Technology can affect our choice of music. I doubt I’d have ever listened to operas when they came as a huge stack of 78s. LPs made them far more accessible and CDs were another major advance. But these steps were simply matters of convenience. Electron flow can also shape our taste.
During my most intense collecting period I could never afford full-price CDs, I was always searching for special reductions. And when Naxos started offering original recordings at £5 a shot I was in like Flynn. But the net result was a load of discs by competent, if unstarry, performers or early versions by stars before they became stars. Very occasionally I would go full whack (Wilhelm Kempf, David Oistrakh, Schwarzkopf) while acknowledging I was only getting 60 minutes playing instead of 180 minutes.
But now I have YouTube. This morning I listened to Heifetz playing Bach’s unaccompanied chaconne. In his day Heifetz was the Beatles and Usain Bolt combined. GB Shaw suggested that Heifetz should, every month or so, play a wrong note just to encourage other violinists. He was note perfect and a masterly interpreter. My own chaconne, bought second-hand, is by Itzhak Perlman and is excellent in its way. But it’s not Heifetz. I’m going to have to have it.
I already mentioned hearing the Takacs playing the late Beethoven quartets. A revelation. They’re now on my shelves.
In the old days I wasn’t all that discriminating and I’m still able to make do with Joe Doak conducting the Transylvanian Phil doing the four Roussel symphonies. But not the biggies that are part of my very fibre. Luckily I’m somewhat better off than I was in the Naxos days. Thanks YouTube.
NOVEL Blest Redeemer 83,043 words. But there are thousands to go.