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Amazon is getting worse by the day

Some day, when I have nothing better to do (and I have so much better to do every day), I need to write the chronicle of how Amazon became the worst online website for purchasing your CDs of classical music (I won’t pronounce on the rest, I seldom use Amazon for anything else). But for today, just to keep this in memory for that anticipated chronicle.

So, the research engine doesn’t work anymore. Due to the laughable and infuriating vagaries of artist and label credits on just about each and every one of Amazon’s entries (I’d need to elaborate on that, but not here), the only sure way to find the record you are looking for is the barcode (because entries are indexed on CD barcodes). It doesn’t work 100% of the times, there are glitches there too (as when an entry is indexed on two different barcodes, for two entirely different products – and I can’t tell you the fight and waste of time and energy it is to get Amazon to fix it), but, okay, I’d say 99% of the times, it works.

It used to be that you could research on barcodes and, bull’s eye, find the CD you were looking for (provided, of course, you knew its barcode. I’m losing the memory of many (other) things, because my head is filled with barcodes… ). No more. It started, in my own experience, with Amazon.co.uk: barcodes didn’t yield, serving the infamous “no results for…. “. Still worked on Amazon.fr, so I could go there retrieve the ASIN indexing (which is proper to Amazon), and from there return to Amazon.uk and find my CD. But now it’s on Amazon.fr that barcodes don’t yield. It used to be that some searches on barcodes didn’t yield although the CD was duly listed, but because there was no current offer. Now, barcodes simply don’t yield. Well, okay, as with thousands of other things on Amazon that went for the worse in a decade or so, I found the way to circumvent that. That required going to my seller account on Amazon, and “add a product”. That still yields (when the product DOES exist and has been listed, which is usually the case), and from there I can click on the link and find the entry.

But now Amazon.uk doesn’t respond to ASINs either. The asses! So how do I find my entry to find the best price? Look, it was simple, the compilation of Giulini’s Concerto recordings in a Warner 9-CD Box, barcode 5099943176120, titled “Giulini The Concerto Recordings”. But type the barcode, type the ASIN number B00FJZQS34, and nothing. Type “Giulini The Concerto Recordings” (seems obvious enough, no?) – well, that one yields: to two entries that are NOT  the official release with its 5099943176120 barcode,  but are probably entries created by distributors, with specific barcodes. And note that one yields if I search in category “CDs and Vinyl”, and the other if category “All Departments”: why don’t BOTH yield in any category? Why doesn’t “All Departments” include “CDs and vinyl”? Well, don’t ask me why Amazon is so disfunctional. One goes by barcode 799665242633, ASIN: B01JT7JZO6, and is more expensive than the “legitimate” entry which you won’t find; for the other I haven’t been able to find the barcode (because it is not  listed on Amazon.fr where I have my seller account), and ASIN is B013H2D7YI; it is currently priced… 1367.20 £. I’m not kidding you. What a great deal!

So, okay, I’ve found the “fix” on that again. Copy the full address in the navigator’s adress bar on Amazon.fr, open new tab, paste, substitute “Amazon.co.uk” to “Amazon.fr” and you get to your entry.

But this is a PAIN.IN.THE.ASS. These are inconvenient fixes to circumvent the glitches of Amazon that shouldn’t happen in the first place. AND: I know the tricks. How does the normal Joe do? He doesn’t. Other than that arguably very complicated go around, I haven’t been able to find the legitimate release on Amazon.uk, using all the possible criteria that would be available to the “normal Joe”: “Giulini Concertos”,  “Giulini Warner”. EVEN knowing that the set is listed on .uk under the title “Carlo Maria Giulini Centenary Edition – The Concertos” and using it for the search (which, of course, is cheating, because it supposes that you already have been able to access the legitimate entry), the yield on “All Departments” is to the “thousand pounds” entry (!!!). Only does a search on “Cds and Vinyl” yield, besides the thousand pounds entry, the legitimate one (but DON’T click on “see all 2 results”, that will take you back to misleads):

No, Amazon, you dunces: YOU need help!

Bottom line: the normal Joe simply doesn’t find the CD he’s looking for, or finds the wrong edition, at a much steeper price. He’s been ripped by Amazon.

3 September 2019

Because I make it a point to review every CD that enters my collection, however insignificant (at least as a driving principle. In actual fact, I am hopelessly lagging behind, because I buy so much, and also have other things to attend to in my life), I’ve reviewed “Stop & Go“, a jazz CD by the German/Dutch Martin Classen Quartet. So, the German and Dutch can play “club” jazz that is as formulaic and anonymous as anyone else’s – no worse, but no more original either. Jazz is truly a universal language.

And, while I was at it, part of a recent batch of purchases, “Hommage à Piazzolla” by Gidon Kremer and friends on Nonesuch 7559-79407-2 (1996). Kremer’s first CD entirely devoted to the music of Piazzolla – he didn’t stop there – and a safe recommendation if you are not yet tired of Piazzolla and tangos.

13 May 2019

Long time no activity, alas. Found the time to review Alfred Hill’s String Quartets Nos. 5, 6, 11 by the Australian String Quartet, a CD published in 1997 by Marco Polo. I had never heard of Hill, didn’t even know where to situate him in chronology and geography. Turns out this Aussie was writing, in the 1920s, beautiful string quartets strikingly reminiscent of those of Dvorak (written 25 to 50 years before) and, in 1935, one that evokes Ravel’s own essay in the genre (1903). Well, if you forget the chronology and the derivativeness, they are quite enjoyable.

4 February 2019

Eureka! I’ve found my CD of Berio’s A-Ronne and Cries of London sung by Swingle II (see my blog post of 20 January 2019)! I owe it to Delius… Here’s the story: I was again buying tons of CDs on eBay and the 5-CD set of Beecham’s Delius recordings from the early 1950s with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Sony came up. I couldn’t remember if I had this set already, or just a few individual CDs from it. But my Delius CDs are in a drawer nearby, so I moved my butt and opened it to check. Sure enough, I have the set, so the eBay offer is one I’ve refused and I’ve made a small saving. But in the same drawer – eureka! A box of CDs neatly stacked, with a lot of classical-inspired jazz (the Bach derivations of Jacques Loussier and John Lewis), my Lambert-Hendricks-Ross and Double Six of Paris CDs which I had been looking for in the wake of my transfers of reviews and discography of the Swingle Singers and puzzled not to find, and a few other related things. And, yes, it makes sense, there’s a coherence to all that and I remember having wanted to review or listen again to all these CDs. It’s a terrible mistake to neatly put up your mess, you can be sure you won’t find it.

Thanks again, Delius and Beecham! And so now I’ve reviewed Berio’s A-Ronne and Cries of London on Decca / London “Entreprise” 425 620-2 (1990), two major works in contemporary vocal techniques.

1 February 2019

brought over my reviews of three recordings of Gavin Bryars’ three string quartets. Those works put the lie to those (ignorants) who claim that nothing of beauty has been composed since Britten and Shostakovich.

Three Viennese Dancers: Prologue (1986). String Quartet No. 1 “Between the National and the Bristol” (1985). First Viennese Dance (“M.H.”) (1985-6). Epilogue (1986). Pascal Pongy (French horn), Charles Fullbrook & Gavin Bryars (percussion), Arditti String Quartet. ECM New Series ECM 1323 and Japanese editions (1986)

“The Last Days”. String Quartet No. 1 “Between the National and the Bristol” (1985), Die Letzten Tage (“The Last Days”) for Two Violins (1992), String Quartet No. 2 (1990). Balanescu Quartet. Argo 448 175-2 (1995)

Three String Quartets: String Quartet No. 1 “Between the National and the Bristol, 1985), String Quartet No. 2 (1990), String Quartet No. 3 (1998). The Lyric Quartet. Black Box BBM1079 (2002)

Before that, finished my Balanescu Quartet transfers, with Alexander Balanescu’s Maria T., on Mute CDSTUMM242 (Europe), Mute 9286-2 (US) (2005), Universal Music Romania 4811723 (2015), and Michael Nyman’s String Quartets 1-3 on Argo 433 093-2 (1991) (reissues in 2002 on Decca and in 2012 on MN, Nyman’s own label)

 

29 January 2019

Well, before I could transfer my reviews of Rigel and Reich, as I intended to in the wake of those of Riley and Riegger (see my blog posts of yesterday and January 23) and , I saw on my shelves two CDs that had been sitting there for decades, not only from before the time I started to review on Amazon, but in the case of the oldest one even before the internet and cell phones were invented: Franz Xaver Richter’s Leçons des Ténèbres (Lamentations) on Cyprès CYP1624 (2000) and Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 on Schwann Musica Mundi CD 11091 (1986) – the latter was among the very first batch of CDs to be issued by the label. Transfering old reviews is fine, I said to myself, but posting new reviews (even of old stuff) is necessary to. So I did Richter (and was reminded that I hadn’t been bowled over that CD when it enterered my collection). Now listen to Reznicek.

28 January 2019

The closest on my shelves to Riley (other than Wolfgang Rihm, but I’ve done Rihm already): Wallingford Riegger and Jean-Joseph Rigel. So I transfered my Amazon reviews of Riegger (1885-1961) – a pet composer of mine, an all-but forgotten American modernist and maybe the most unjustly neglected “important American composer” of the 20th century, one of the first introducters of Schoenberg’s Twelve-Tone technique in the US but also an eclectic, and a composer and orchestrator of great imagination and whimsicality.

And now, Rigel (1741-1799, an all-but forgotten French composer from the end of Ancient Regime and Revolutionary era).