Customer Review

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply marvellous music - but how much are we missing by downloading?, 7 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Johann Sebastian Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier (MP3 Download)
This recording is simply marvellous. I'd heard an exert on the radio and on a whim checked it out on Amazon. Download was about half the price of the CD set, and crucially in the heat of the moment, significantly quicker! So I downloaded it, and was not disappointed. Bach as instant gratification? You bet. Within about 15 minutes I knew I'd done the right thing, and had a sublime Saturday morning with the Well-Tempered Clavier. Anyone who doesn't already own a version of this may be surprised by the fact that there is yards and yards of music here. Every part of it is fascinating in its own right and I have no doubt that I will be rewarded by these MP3s for years to come. I got my money's worth the day I bought it, so to give it less than five stars would just be wrong. My old harpsichord disks will be sitting on the shelf for a long time, if not forever, utterly eclipsed by Schiff. If you're not sure, thinking "oh, fifteen quid sound a lot" then get over it and click "buy". You will thank yourself.

However, reading the page for the CD set, reviews elsewhere, and indeed the radio coverage which got me interested in the first place I have to wonder how much we're missing with the download. The liner notes (quoted in Amazon's own text) sound fascinating: for example, part of the joy of Schiff's playing here is the fairly prim style without use of pedals. Clearly, it works with this piece, but as a non-pianist I would never have understood this had I not read about it. My point is: how much are we missing? CDs naturally cost more; but if we're talking four disks, a plastic box and a paragraph about pedals then it's an easy choice. But how much more is there? Amazon do not give MP3 customers access to any graphics or text beyond the absolute basics (as far as I can tell) so it is a total, fairly extreme form of this choice. If the background materials matter to you you might want to gamble a few pounds more and get the CD set. To be honest the music would justify the higher price on its own, so either way if you've read this far you need to be buying this item.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Nov 2012 15:56:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Nov 2012 16:02:08 GMT
The other thing you are getting with the CD is the original, uncompressed, audio. Mp3/aac encoding is inherently 'lossy': about 80% of the recorded information is thrown away when encoding an mp3 at the bitrate used by itunes and amazon. Admittedly, this is done in a clever way but the fact remains that most of the information is lost. There are ways of encoding for download without this degradation (FLAC or Apple Lossless) but none of the major retailers offers this option.

As for the musicianship shown here, however, I heartily agree: I too heard an excerpt from this recording on CD Review (Radio 3) and immediately ordered the discs. Superlative playing.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 22:25:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jan 2013 22:26:04 GMT
Mr. C. Moore says:
Yes, and I don't really understand with the fast broadband speeds and high volume hard disks, why it should be necessary to compress to mp3 anymore. Ther is no shortage of lossless formats and the average 1tb drive will fit about 4000 CD's on it

Posted on 30 Nov 2013 16:13:48 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Nov 2013 16:17:07 GMT
barthol says:
I don't know anything about the technical aspects mentioned in the other two comments, but I would say that you are missing a fair amount by downloading. The accompanying notes are interesting. Apart from the matter of pedal-use that you referred to (and whether Schiff uses no sustaining pedal at all seems to be left slightly unclear) there is a suggestion of identifying the various keys with colours, which some people might regard as quirky but I find thought-provoking.
I don't see why it cannot be made possible for downloaders to receive the notes, illustrations and photos with their download of the music.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2014 16:32:41 GMT
jfpco says:
you need it in mp3 to listen to it on an mp3 player
whether this recording can be obtained at higher resolution I don't know, but if it can you'd have to listen to it on your computer (and put up with the noise of the fan if yours is as noisy as mine) or invest in some kit for streaming from your computer to another room where you cannot hear the fan
and it might cost as much as the CD
simpler all round IMHO to buy the CD
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