How to Build a Classical CD Collection

Building a Classical CD Collection

is a matter of increasing difficulty. Tastes in music widen, releases of recordings multiply, and the problem remains of where and how to start. Obviously one way to tackle the matter is to start by buying recordings of music that you know and like, if you know what you like and like what you know. The millionaire's way out might be to buy all that is available on compact disc. The moderately well-to-do might care to become Naxos enthusiasts, joining the body of collectors who now buy without question every Naxos CD that appears. For most of us, however, some sort of guide, however incomplete, takes some of the pain out of choosing. The story of the donkey caught between two equidistant piles of hay and therefore starving to death suggests that a rough guide of some kind to record-buying might be helpful.

In the following pages the outline of a basic collection is suggested, but only an outline. Someone who buys and enjoys the now very familiar Four Seasons of Vivaldi might care to explore a wider range. Naxos, in fact, is undertaking the mammoth task of recording all the concertos of Vivaldi, some five hundred in all, on 75 CDs. If that seems rather too much of a good thing, interesting batches of concertos have already appeared, including a release on four CDs of the complete Cello Concertos. These will reveal new riches. Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night-Music) might lead to the 41 symphonies or the 27 piano concertos now available. A little Beethoven should lead logically to a great deal more. Some suggestions now appear for recordings of earlier music, Gregorian chant, and vocal and instrumental music of the Renaissance, the door to a particularly rich and varied musical world.

The present guide has obvious limitations and modest enough intentions. Given that one must start somewhere, suggestions are included of where one might begin, but this is only a start. Most of the recommendations included in the guide offer also a starting-point for further exploration.