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The Cheaper Musique Boutique

August 5, 2010

Confession time.  I think I might be a thrift store addict.  No out-of-control binges followed by blackouts, but an addict nonetheless.  I love them.  Like I love fresh-out-of-the-oven banana bread slathered in butter, or motorcycle rides on a cloudless summer day, or making eye contact with a gorgeous stranger…  They make my sonicgypsy heart flutter.  Specifically where the shelves of random audio are concerned.  Place me within 50 ft. of plastic CD cases glinting alluringly under fluorescent lighting like beacons of bliss leading me to the promised land, and my resolve crumbles.

Last weekend I was visiting my parents in their sleepy town where the biggest weekly buzz happens on Saturdays when the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store opens its doors for a handful of hours.  For that window of time it’s the social event of the town – a chance to run into friends, catch up on gossip, help the local hospital, and, if you’re lucky, find some deals in the process.  Not a party you want to miss.

As is my thrift store habit, my first destination is always the CD section.  I approach it with all the hopeful anticipation of a lover’s rendez-vous, skimming the shelves wide-eyed, hoping against hope for that jackpot find.  I’ve been lucky more often than not – I’ve found a few magical recordings mixed in among the countless boyband/indie/gangsta rap discs, as well as some treasures that I wouldn’t have normally looked at twice except that the 50¢ sticker made the dubious more attractive.

This time, my find of the day was the promo CD for the 2010 Classical Brit Awards that got distributed for free through the London-based ‘The Mail’ newspaper back on May 16th.  How it ended up in this corner of the world so quickly I’ll never know, but there it was, its emaciated cardboard sleeve surreptitiously sandwiched in between a pirated kid’s computer game and an early N’Sync album.

I fast forwarded my way through the various selections on the drive home, happy to find some time-tested artists nestled alongside the hip, nouveau Classical performers glamming up the stage today.

Ok, so that last paragraph might hold a tinge of cynicism, but I’ve been thinking about this disc a lot over the past week.  It seems to give a true effort to make the music relevant for today’s crowds, but to my ears it still toes an area of tension that I think many Classical music lovers frequently feel themselves caught in – badly wanting to see Classical music come to a broader audience, but often feeling that what’s being offered is more of a sell-out to crossover fame-mongering and smart marketing, rather than a genuine interpretation of brilliant music for music’s sake.

There are some gems on this CD though – Rolando Villazón singing Giacomo Puccini’s “Recondita Armonia”, and Howard Goodall’s “By the Waters of Babylon – Psalm 137” are two stand-outs.

All in all, it’s enjoyable, easy-listening Classical for the uninitiated ear.  Which is really the point, isn’t it?  I need to remind myself that this is music I would like if I were new to the Classical listening experience.  And if it takes some creative showmanship to get more people taking a second listen (and hopefully third, and fourth, and…), then bring it on.  Ultimately, time will test the metal of true artistry, sifting the wheat from the chaff.

It’s fantastic that the UK even has something like this in their yearly music award show calendar.  I’m hard pressed to imagine N.America hosting a similar event anytime soon, but maybe we’ll be surprised one of these days.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of what the Classical Brits offer:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2010 12:04 pm

    “I approach it with all the hopeful anticipation of a lover’s rendez-vous” – best line. You make me want to quit my job and eat music all day.



  1. Pop Go the Classics… Again « sonicgypsy

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