I went to HMV in Manchester’s Market Street on Friday – the big one nearer to Piccadilly Gardens. There’s a sale on and they are selling the Brilliant Classics complete Beethoven, on 85 CDs, for £40. Actually, that is dreadfully expensive compared with the complete Bach, 155 CDs, also for £40.00. The complete Mozart, on 170 CDs, is also £40.00.

The recordings are mostly re-issues of top-class ones by major companies, e.g. the Beethoven symphonies are by Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the piano sonatas are by Gulda.

I assume that the other major HMV stores will have these too – there were plenty there when I went.

Good value, I couldn’t resist, but normally I like to pick and choose who is performing what, and not get a lot of things I might hate. I’ve just got the complete Beethoven symphonies and overtures conducted by Eugen Jochum with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, wonderful. But it cost over £30 (£31 including postage).

I do buy complete recordings by a certain performer occasionally, and I did buy the complete Webern, but that is not a huge number of CDs.

We all like a bargain, and I can understand the need to budget, but it does rather reduce exploring music to stockpiling. Of course, I’ve done it myself buying Eloquence issues from Australia online, but they were items that were otherwise unavailable.

Jarvis Cocker was interviewed on Channel 4 News the other night, speaking up for independent record shops as part of a special day celebrating and hoping for their survival. He stressed the importance of accidental discoveries, and the fact that it’s not easy to do that on the internet. I think he’s right, and I’d hate the opportunity for happy browsing to disappear.


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