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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Big Music. Small Package

Chandos Offers Stick Drives, Not Boxed Sets.

8 gigs of listening pleasure: the Chandos stick drive.
A look at the current catalogue offerings by Chandos Records shows the London-based record label moving ahead of its competitors with an innovative offering: pre-loaded music on thumb drives.

The decision to start reissuing box sets in stick form is another death knell for the CD manufacturing industry, Record companies have a long history of packaging music in jewel cases, toy trays, doorstop boxes and many other configurations, many of which can now be found floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

In the last decade, more ecologically-minded music lovers have been sharing their songs, opera scenes, and symphonic movements on flash drives, IPods and stick drives. It's about time that one record label finally wised up.

Billed as "the new way to listen to music," the Chandos Plug & Play Collection offers customers the option to purchase large collections of classical music and opera in the form of pre-loaded 8-gigabyte USB drive. The user gets the added "bonus" of keeping the (reusable) drive.

The Goodall Ring, in its current CD incarnation.
Large gold ring image not included.
The music can be bought as either loss-less FLAC or WMA files. MP3s, the most popular form of audio file for their portability, are also included on every drive sold, so essentially you get two copies of each work. The drives hold up to 16 discs of music, and users have the option to download album art and liner notes directly from the label.


Founded in 1979 by Brian Couzins, Chandos has a long history of offering cutting-edge recordings, strong performances, and unusual versions of standard and non-standard classical repertory. In 2005, the Chandos label was the first classical music label to open an MP3 store. The company launched the Plug & Play initiative on February 22.

For the last twenty years, Chandos has worked with the Peter Moores Foundation to produce opera recordings in English. These range from the works of Wagner and Strauss to the comedies of Mozart and Rossini. More esoteric offerings include English-language performances of operas like The Makropoulos Case by Janáček, raising their profile to listeners intimidated by the prospect of learning Czech.

The flagship of this line of Opera in English is the English National Opera's 1970s recording of Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, conducted by Sir Reginald Goodall. This live recording features a stellar cast including tenor Alberto Remedios, soprano Rita Hunter and bass-baritone Norman Bailey. The "Goodall Ring" is widely praised for its slow, gravid tempos and the conductor's remarkable attention to detail in the more arcane corners of Wagner's massive score.

The "stick" version of The Ring sells for £99.99, or $161.19 U.S. at the current rate of exchange. Considering that Amazon currently sells the physical CDS of the complete Goodall Ring for $167.01, the price is comparable.

Other offerings in the initial slate of releases include:

Orchestral Works of Malcom Arnold.
2 volumes of Contemporaries of Mozart.
2 volumes of Film Music
Elgar Oratorios.
Vaughan Williams symphonies.
Hummel piano and orchestral works.
2 volumes of the Walton Edition.

For more information visit the official Chandos site.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.