There are indeed many complaints which may be leveled at the major studios,
but I don't have a particular problem with the length of CDs, IF priced
We know that a CD costs almost nothing to manufacture, but what gets put ON
a CD involves time, labor, talent of skilled musicians, technicians,
engineers, equipment manufcaturers, studio time, salaries for clerical,
janitorial and sometimes even catering people. (Before anyone gets their
feathers ruflled that the price of a CD might include a tuna sandwich for
their favorite artist, we should remember that once you've got an artist in
a studio, every minute counts and a lunch or snack out is far more costly
in the long run).
Albums are recorded to showcase something. In the current cases at hand,
Ms. Hunt-Lieberson's performances of these two Bach cantatas she's (fairly)
recently received raves on performing and in Upshaw/Kronos, their
collaboration on the Berg Lyric Suite.
If the 27-28 minute Berg project was offered at full price - I too would
have a problem, a BIG problem. Howeer, this can be found for 7-8 dollars
(US) which I don't think is so bad, and worth having.
While we may complain about prices of newly recorded material, I think (for
the most part) the current prices are reasonable. Add to the fact that
there have become available thousands of discs of previously released
material which can be snatched up for bargain basement prices, that's
(somewhat) encouraging. Of course one could argue that many of us have
already paid to own these items in other mediums, e.g., LPs, etc.
As to Ms. Hunt-Lieberson's Bach Cantata disc, again these performances have
been widely acclaimed and the practice of two cantatas on a single album is
not, in my opinion, unreasonable. Back in the LP days I know many of us
owned recordings which featured only a single cantata (sometimes no more
than 27-32 minutes of music). Similarly, full priced LPs of highlights or
aria recitals by great singers from the past often clocked in at little
more than half an hour. These two cantatas, rendered by arguably one of
the most fascinating musicians in opera today, easily commands my $13.00
for I know I will be receiving pleasure from it for years to come.
What I will complain about is the lack of decent complete opera recordings
and how now, more than ever, the studios seem content to offer us fluffy
discs of Fleming which always seem to overlap the new with previously
released material. These I simply will not buy.
That a CD is capable of holding 79+ minutes of music doesn't mean it needs
to hold as much as it can. Would it be nice? Sure.
Let's take a complete commercial opera recording - say Carmen (I just
looked one up on line - Berganza/DG): 3 discs for roughly $51.00 - making
the discs come in roughly at $17 per disc. The timing is about 152 minutes
spread over three discs which is little more than 50 minutes per disc. At
that rate, Lorraine singing 51 minutes of two complete Bach cantatas for 13
bux is (in my opinion) a steal real deal!
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