Thursday, January 11, 2007

Recipe for success?

Rather touched to discover a hit from a reader in the Far East looking for 'Faure Piano Quartet No.1 recipe'. Tricky, that. Perhaps rack of spring lamb with mint sauce would reflect the work's youthful yet meaty quality. Or the torrential last movement could suggest a salmon leaping upstream, maybe accompanied by a tasty tarragon mayonnaise. Put the right portamento into the first movement's violin part and you also have a case for the finest fresh oysters. Haydn might be easier to match: my Gundel Cookbook from Budapest contains a mouthwatering recipe for Steak Eszterhazy (though I don't fancy the lard).

A bigger recipe for success is the new Universal Classics and Jazz download site, launched yesterday. It claims to be the largest site of its type catering to the classical and jazz market to date, with 125,000 tracks, and there's some fantastic stuff on the Universal labels which include Deutsche Grammophon, Philips and Decca. Don't be put off by all that Katherine Jenkins and Da Vinci Code Soundtrack stuff on the front, because Heifetz, Wunderlich, Argerich and Pollini lurk in that back catalogue. And the site is hoping to offer digital downloads of complete ballet and opera videos in the near future. The press release says: "The downloadable tracks will be offered at over double the quality iTunes offer: 320K Stereo WMA files as opposed to Apple's 128" Stereo AAC files." Note that it's not compatible, though, with the iPod.