Concertgebouw: downloads for Valentine's Day
In anticipation of its D.C. performance on Monday (and its performances at Carnegie Hall the two days after that), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is making a Valentine's Day gesture to American audiences by offering ten free downloads from its website. And we're talking complete symphonies, not excerpts: the Brahms Second, -- including performances of Brahms' Second Symphony (with Mariss Jansons), the Bruckner 8th (Haitink), the Dvorak 8th (Giulini), the Mahler 1st (Bernstein), and others.
For the orchestra, this is a way to beef up its U.S. mailing list (you have to register and agree to be on that mailing list before you can start downloading), and to advertise what now seems to be an obligatory appurtenance of large orchestras, the in-house label. It's a pretty good trade-off, though: for the sake of what amounts to ten complete CDs, I'll submit to having my name on a mailing list. (The site is not all that well explained, and downloading was a little tricky; on a Mac, I had to let it download via Quicktime before I was able to save it as an mp3. Your results may vary.)
I've made no secret in the past of my admiration for the Concertgebouw, and particularly Jansons, its music director, who conducts four of the ten selections offered here. Is it really the best in the world, as a Gramophone poll crowned it in 2008? And if not, which orchestra is? Post your thoughts. At the very least, the downloads offer a way to stimulate that particular discussion.
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