November 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
I don’t usually shill, but I am excited to pick this one up. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (full disclosure: I worked in their archives for a few years – a dream job if there ever was) have taken the old idea of short form classics and released a new album full of them. The longest piece is the Mahler – go figure – at 8:28, but most clock in around six and a half minutes, exactly the length of your next student film.
The suits in the suites may not get it, but this would make a splendid box set of 7″ vinyl. The Mahler Cycle LP Box sold out – why not? It would also be a nod to the historical relevance of the format. The 7 inch “Extended Play” disk was a crossing-over point from cumbersome 10 and 12 inch 78s to convenient 12 inch albums.
The popularization of orchestral works we now take for granted happened in mid-century living rooms where people sat in front of furniture with built-in phonographs. No home was without at least one classical music album, and often that one album was a selection of short works or excerpts. The “sampler” was a standard marketing tool, usually available at a low price. Other compilations were programs, high brow mood music. Masterpieces in Miniature seems related to these types of releases, especially in light of the SF Symphony’s previous offering – a new version of the other album found on every 20th century hi-fi.