Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dumpster Diving

One step below the dollar bin trawling, certainly in price and possibly in dignity (though rarely in degree of satisfaction), is picking records straight out of the trash. One recent foray turned up a number of items which may delight us over the coming days; Leonard Bernstein conducting his own three symphonies and Ravi Shankar on Apple Records performing the soundtrack to a film called Raga, which I suppose must be a documentary about Ravi Shankar (circa 1970, Howard Worth director), but this evening's high point is Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's "Missa Romana in F", as beautiful a baroque mass as you could want (for "6 Solo Voices, 2 five voice choirs, and double orchestra"). The sacred works that get their own chapters in history books are those like Bach's Mass in B Minor, which are monumental like Michelangelo's Medici Tomb Moses but sometimes you don't want something quite that heavy, and Pergolesi provides quite a refreshing contrast.

Also appealing is the fact that the record label credit is Harmonia Mundi/BASF. I believe the current multinational chemical corporation called BASF is the same - I once thought of them (when I thought of them at all!) principally as manufacturers of magnetic recording tape who branched out into the music industry by funding and distributing smaller record labels, most famously the German jazz labels Saba and MPS which yielded several fruits of my teenage forays into the ever more obscure, particularly Association P.C.'s Erna Morena.
Further aesthetic pleasure comes from the Unipak sleeve, a style which all BASF productions I've seen came in (I suppose they held the patent), a gatefold LP jacket with the slot for the record only accessible from the middle of the inside. There's a comparable CD sleeve design - reaching randomly towards the shelf, I find the Wiretapper 14 compilation came in such a package.

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