The Bargain that Never Was.
Back in the early 1990s I bought the Philips Mozart Edition on subscription from Britannia at £6.99 per disc. At the time, I thought £6.99 per disc was a keen price. All told, the complete edition cost me well over £1,000. And now? Today, the Philips Mozart edition can be bought for around £300 complete – admittedly in less elaborate packaging, and without the wooden display cabinet I got free by subscribing.
So, £300’s a bargain – right? Err, well, not exactly. There’s now a rival complete Mozart edition on the Brilliant label that retails for just £99! That’s £99 for 180 CDs. It gets worse; The HMV shop in Oxford St recently had this set priced at just £49.95. Think about it; the complete works of Mozart for under 50 quid. What an incredible bargain; I wish I could have bought such a set thirty odd years ago when I first started collecting.
But the worst thing is that – even at this ridiculously low price – the sets didn’t exactly fly out the door. They sold steadily rather than quickly. And there’s the rub. Despite classical music being cheaper and more accessible than ever before, there seems to be a great indifference to it. Indeed, the low selling price is a reflection of this indifference. It’s all very strange – and really rather sad.
This malaise has finally affected me. I now look on LPs and CDs that once seemed highly desirable and aspirational very differently. I wouldn’t say I regard them as totally worthless, but they are devalued. When something is so expensive you have to think twice before buying it, and perhaps save for a few weeks to obtain it, this creates an added sense of value. You treasure it more because it cost so much.
To be continued