Today, April 21, as part of Record Store Day, Deutsche Grammophon is releasing a new recording of Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.
It’s an LP. As in, on vinyl. And you can’t get it in any other format.
Record Store Day is an annual event that helps celebrate and promote independent record stores. (Remember them?) 1000 stores in the U.S. are expected to participate this year. On this day, as far as I can tell, a bunch of new vinyl is released for the occasion, in limited quantities — mostly pop, rock and alternative musics. The release of the Dudamel recording reportedly marks the first time a classical music label has participated in the event.
Vinyl is still around. It’s kind of the in thing with a certain crowd, and big name groups often put out special vinyl recordings. There’s a Record Store Day website where you can type in your zip code and find the participating outlets near you. I did that last night and found Sound Spectrum — Music & Memorabilia in Laguna Beach.
I phoned them last night to see if they’d have the Dudamel release. A friendly, very cool gentleman answered (he sounded like a hippie version of Chuck Niles). Anyway, it seems that independent record stores who participate in the event only order the vinyl they want for Record Store Day. The Sound Spectrum gentleman said they wouldn’t be getting the Dudamel record. I asked him if he knew who Dudamel was. “Of course,” he said. “But I couldn’t sell it.” He said he did have a Leonard Cohen record that I might like, though. He suggested I call him back on Monday, when he could probably order me a copy of the Dudamel. I may.
I checked Amazon for it. The website informs that the record is “Exclusive RSD 180 gram vinyl” — whatever that means, it sounds good. Amazon doesn’t have it, though. But I could get a copy for $29.99 from Jackalope Records through the site.
From DG’s press release:
“This performance was recorded in the Musikverein in December 2011 and is issued here for the benefit of aspiring young musicians in Venezuela’s remarkable El Sistema. Its LP-only release, the first of a Vienna Philharmonic recording in over two decades, is also significant. Gustavo Dudamel has never lost a special fondness for the vinyl records he associates with his earliest musical memories. Tellingly, his favourite 30th-birthday present in January 2011, received with an ear-to-ear grin after conducting in Cologne, was a stack of LPs from Deutsche Grammophon.”
The Dudamel/Vienna recording will be more widely available on May 22, but only on vinyl.
I still listen to and enjoy vinyl, though not exclusively. Some of my old vinyl sounds great, in some cases better than any other format. But never mind. I won’t advocate for it because it’s a lost cause. Still, I see at least one technological (or maybe I should say, design) advantage to vinyl, and that is it’s non-portability. When you put a record on, you pretty much have to sit down and listen to it.