Monday, 16 September 2019

Five hundred recordings

In June of last year, I received on Facebook a challenge to list ten recordings, or as the instructions put it, ‘favo[u]rite albums’. ‘What really made an impact,’ the rubric continued, ‘and is still on your rotation list [?? whatever that may have been: I never did find out], even if only now and then? Post the cover, no need to explain. Nominate a person each day to do the same.’ Often I ignore such ‘challenges’, but in this case I accepted, not least on account of the friend who had issued this particular call to action. I posted an ‘album’ cover each day, then decided to continue to twenty, then to fifty, and so on. I had firmly resolve to stop at 100, then 200, then 366 (one for each day of a well-endowed year), before finally, this month, deciding to quit whilst ahead at 500. Initially, I avoided any replication of works, then slightly relaxed that, thinking it perverse to exclude a recording simply because it included a different performance of three minutes of music, then there were seventy-odd unrepresented elsewhere. After 366, I permitted myself a little more repetition, selecting some second recordings of ‘central’ repertoire works that meant a great deal to me, whilst continuing to present many more works for the first time. Having drawn to a close, I decided to share the covers with a wider world, for anyone who might be interested.

What I should like to say before doing so is that the selection is necessarily restricted. First, and most obviously, it is restricted to recordings that I own. However good some alternative may be, if I do not, for whatever reason, it will not even have been considered for inclusion. The selection is also weighted very strongly towards a time when, before attending more live performances, I acquired recordings far more regularly than I do now: mostly of ‘historical’ repertoire. There are some more recently issued recordings, but not so many. It is also necessarily restricted to works that have been recorded, and to artists who have recorded particular works. Much music that interests me, especially new music, is not present at all. Likewise, there are culpably few recordings of music by women composers; that, I am afraid, is a reflection of the CDs I own, though not a reflection of what interests me in live performance, something nowadays considerably more important to me. The absence of other musical traditions is similarly not intended as a comment upon them. Put simply, I mean no harm with this, and hope to Mozart that it will not offend anyone. I shied away from large boxed sets, since that rather seemed to defeat the point; a recording of the Ring is one thing, a set of 50 different Klemperer recordings another. They are also all audio-only recordings: no videos. This is not a list of ‘500 greatest recordings’, or some such nonsense; it is not a guide of recommended recordings of particular work; it is simply a selection that grew over time, of recordings meaning something to me, which attempts not to overlap too often. I hope that it may prove of some interest to some people; if not, other websites are available...

(It also appears that the number may not be precisely 500. I am not at all sure how that happened, but never mind: it is certainly c.500. Too much precision can be a deadly thing.)