Music: Dept. of extraordinary bargains


Here’s some stuff I found on iTunes.

On a long drive the other day, I just loaded all the CDs from this set of Beethoven symphonies into the CD changer of my rental car and listened straight through from 1 to 9. They’re quite inexpensive on CD (the format I have them in), and nutty cheap on iTunes: $9.99 for all nine. But these are not bargain-basement performances. David Zinman is a fine conductor, his Zurich charges ready for anything, and these performances compare favourably to any I’ve heard. The Seventh in particular is surprisingly fine-featured, almost delicate in the galloping finale. The rest are less idiosyncratic, but lovely and rousing. A great place to start if you’re just beginning to check Beethoven out, and worth a listen if you know him well.

Then there’s this digital version of a Miles Davis boxed set, also oddly inexpensive. It’s not quite the basic library necessity that a box of Beethoven symphonies would be, because it comes from a betwixt-and-between period in Miles’ life: between the departure of John Coltrane from the band in 1960 and the arrival of Wayne Shorter in 1964. Here he’s slowly putting together his second great quintet, trying various sidemen, alternating between his standard repertoire and some more adventurous new tunes, few of which lasted long in his set book. But as a trumpeter Miles was at the top of his game, extroverted and playful. The bands were game, the moment a bit hectic but fertile. And the price is right.

Filed under:

Music: Dept. of extraordinary bargains

  1. Thanks for the pointer to MD. I think I have all I want but there are some true bargains included in the iTunes collection.

  2. This post kind of reminds me of Barney’s Version.

  3. Thanks PW,

    Keep these music posts coming. (You really should start a dedicated music blog. “Noteless Scales”?)

  4. They had a collective blog on the msuic they were listening to.

  5. Also a good bargain on CD (haven’t yet checked iTunes), is the complete Beethoven symphonies with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammaphon). Music stores tend to bring a lot of sets in time for Christmas. I’ve been seeing this one in HMV every year for the past 20. Price has been $20-$20.

  6. Paul Wells:

    Thanks for this. My memory is a bit unfocused on Miles Davis, but I do recall seeing him play (I think) at a club in Buffalo called the Royal Arms. The club kindles fond memories of jazz greats like Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz (with Astrid Gilberto in tow back then). If you never had the joy of a visit, it was a classic and intimate nightclub, with a stage surrounded with ascending tiers decked with tables and chairs. Every position had a great view of the stage and performers. (I hail from Niagara so it was natural in early teen years to jump the border for adult entertainment not accessible to us in Canada. The Royal Arms was my first experience of what then, to me, was a “class joint”.) As a fan of jazz, if you haven’t already, you might want to check this out:


    This site has photos of Buffalo bars. Sadly I could not find a shot of the Arms there and darned if I can recall what it looked like from the exterior:


  7. My thanks too, Paul.

    – JV

  8. This is going to be a bit heretical, but I’d like to warn people away from the Karajan Beethoven box. I bought my copy 15 years ago, and it was so polished and proper and staid I could barely breathe. It was a long time — basically until I started hearing Beethoven symphonies in performance five or six years ago — before I realized they’re actually rather punky, dangerous affairs if played right. I could give you a list of good Beethoven symphony performances if there’s any interest. Jaime Weinman could almost certainly give you a better list. You out there, Jaime?

  9. Paul, I just downloaded both recommended albums.

    Where do I send my receipt?

    : )

    – JV

  10. Paul — I bought that Karajan box myself. I think you’re right. In fact that may be why I don’t listen to Beethoven much anymore. There it is on my iPod’s screen, and I feel vaguely erudite for having it there, but I just zip right over it every time.

    I’d be interested in hearing your picks (for that and anything else classical/jazz).

  11. This is really good to know about the Karajan versions, the only ones I’ve ever heard. I saw “Immortal Beloved” last month and, though I didn’t find it very convincing, it did make me think there must be more zip to Beethoven symphonies than I knew. I will try and get my hands on these David Zinman versions pronto (not a big fan of iTunes & its low bitrates). Many thanks for the info, your music notes are always very educational.

  12. Thanks Paul.

    I’ve never owned a complete set of anything by an orchestra or a composer.

    Extraordinary bargain indeed.

Sign in to comment.