30 January 2018 – Amazon is the worst

UN-BE-LIE-VA-BLE. So, this is the sequel to my diary of yesterday. I got the response from “Communities” this morning. Just unbelievable. Here it is:


I’ve researched your previous correspondence and re-evaluated your Customer Review for “The Arthur Honegger Centenary, Vol. 2: The Musician of the Twenties .” After careful consideration, I agree with my colleague’s decision that the review violated our posted guidelines. Specifically, the following parts cannot be posted on Amazon.com:

But those are small details, that will be perceptible only by those following with a score, and they are offset by the great instrumental vividness and pungency of the performance and recording. Cellist Michal Kanka plays with warm tone and great lyricism, but also vigor and bite when the music requires. He and Kosler adopt some unusual tempi in some passages of the slow movement and Finale, but I always find their choices convincing. Still, the performance glitches and the various audience noises (not that they are obtrusive, but this one was recorded at a public concert) would not make this your version of choice…. but there is a special treat in store for the Honegger aficionado. Honegger planned for an “ad libitum” cadenza at the end of the slow movement. He didn’t provide one, but his dedicatee and premiere performer Maurice Maréchal wrote one, that is appended at the end of the score, and it is great, sounding like a scrap from Kodaly’s Solo Cello Sonata. However, inexplicably, most recordings don’t play it: Maréchal did, of course, in his 1943 recording under the composer’s baton (ASIN:B000ECWY8U Honegger Conducts Honegger), but not Tortelier, not Sadlo, not Rostropovich, not Julian Lloyd Weber, and the list isn’t limitative: they all segue directly, and frustratingly, from the slow movement to the Finale. The only modern recordings I know that play the Maréchal cadenza are those of Ulrich Schmid (ASIN:B00000JIP6 Ernest Bloch: Schelomo; Arthur Honegger: Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra) and of Alban Gerhardt (ASIN:B001F4YGYG Une Cantate De Noel Horace Victorieux). The cadenza should be mandatory, and if not Maréchal’s, cellists should do like Maréchal and provide their own.

So, Kanka: Maréchal’s cadenza? No, another one, presumably his own (the liner notes are entirely silent on this issue). It is great too, longer than Maréchal’s (it runs 2 minutes) and it alone is reason enough for the VERY serious Honegger fan to buy this CD. And he can sample any other reasons to find this disc attractive in my review.

Other than that, it can be of interest also to the occasional amateur of Honegger, provided he can find it cheap. The program is valuable and varied, the interpretations are of unequal value but the best among them are good enough. This here is the “official” entry for this CD, corresponding to its barcode (3149025050915). There are others, like ASIN:B000005VZG The Arthur Honegger Centenary Vol. 2: The Musician of the Twenties: La Tempête, prelude / Concertino for Piano / Pacific 231 / Cello Concerto / Mouvement symphonique no. 3 / Symphony No. 1 in C major (under which I originally posted this review). 

Your review can’t be posted on Amazon.com as written. However, you’re welcome to resubmit your review, restricting your comments to the item.”

“Promotional content”? These people are INSANE. No, I take that back: Amazon staffs people of such abyssmal INCOMPETENCE, they know DICK about classical music, so when I post a fine, elaborate comparative review, where I compare intepretation a to interpretations b to z, they call it “promotional content”!!!!

Oh I did respond, more out of a sense of indignancy than in any hope to get things changed. Amazon has become, as far as reviewing classical music is concerned, the worst website in the world, and I hate them. It’s gonna take time, but I will progressively move all my reviews over here and delete them from that shitty website. I will not contribute gratis anymore to the value of a website that so mis-treats its contributors. Fuck you Jeff Bezos, and may you choke in your dollars.

29 January 2018 – why I will no longer review on Amazon

Long time away from discophage.com. There are a number of material reasons to it, including that I (still) buy so many CDs that it seems to take endless time just to sort out and write down what comes in (especially when I receive parcels of 50 or 100…. yeah, that’s how sick I am…), and also that I’ve been busying myself with various discographies, but fundamentally I think it was a period of “reviewing fatigue”. Listening is easy, writing serious reviews is hard work, time-consuming!

But I’m reminded what a shitty place for reviewing Amazon.com has sadly become. I wanted to repost under its legitimate entry, corresponding to its barcode, a review that I had already posted some years ago of a CD (which is not important… Honegger on the label Praga) that was in fact listed under a distributor’s barcode. Very same review. And now I get notification that it can’t be posted, because it purportedly breaches guidelines. It doesn’t, of course. So I write to “Help” – only to discover that the direct link (which was not easy to find, but nonetheless existed) to “topic: customer reviews” is gone. Amazon doesn’t want you to write any more when you have an issue with your customer review. So I write anyway, using the “website feedback” category. OK, to my great surprise, they do respond: that the review contains “promotional content” and if I do it again, they’ll “remove my posting priviledges”!!! FUCK YOU! The review contains no “promotional content” whatsoever, no more than it did four years ago, and I defy you to show me what promotional content it contains. I don’t know if this is bot error or human mis-judgement, but it is crass incompetence. So I wrote back, and I’ll see what they answer.

But is it really worth the fight and time and energy wasted?

Also, limiting myself to my center of interest, classical music CDs, Amazon is increasingly becoming a horrendous bureaucratic mess. Frankly, the customer in search of a specific CD is more likely NOT not to get a good deal on Amazon, because so many of its entries are SO BADLY BOTCHED that they are impossible to find or entirely misleading when you do chance on them. In order to find the right CD at the right price, you need to know its barcode, and I’m sure that the immense majority of that very tiny minority that are purchasers of music CDs are not even aware of what a barcode is.

And this: And when I started posting my reviews on Amazon.com in 2006, reviewing on Amazon.com was a fun and friendly experience. No more. Year after year, change after change, they’ve made the reviewing experience a less friendly one, one increasingly fraught with hurdles and frustrations. Among the last straws, there has been this asinine new Profile which they implemented some years ago. Before that, you had something like 10 of your own reviews per page, and then went to page two for the next 10, etc. Now they had this oh so brilliant idea to have ALL your reviews on the same page. Yeah, fine, when you’ve posted 10 or 100 short reviews, no problem. But when you’ve posted 2,500 long ones? The page NEVER STOPS scrolling down with the next reviews popping up, and it takes, like, 10 fucking minutes of scrolling down (in fact I need to chronometer that precisely) to reach my first review from 2006! So this new Profile is useless to me and I avoid it like a venerian disease (and there are other issues with it as well, I’ll spare you the details). Fortunately, they provided a link to your reviews, with 10 displayed per page as on the old Profile, so I bookmarked that and could circumvent the hateful new profile. Well, as of December 2017 (probably before, but that’s when I realized of the change),  that’s gone too. So now I’m stuck with this hateful Profile.

And, of couse, as of October 2017, Amazon has closed its discussion fora. When it was launched in 1995 as an online bookseller, Amazon based its strength and development on creating a sense of comunity. The allegiance and fidelity to Amazon went way beyond just finding favorable prices, but was built on that sense of comunity.

Well, obviously, Amazon is not interested anymore. Bezos just wants our dollars. OK, I’ll keep buying from Amazon when I find cheapest offers, why not. But as for adding to the websites value through by reviews, FUCK YOU! If you don’t want them, why should I insist on imposing them on you?

So, it’ll take time, but I absolutely need now to be serious about importing my 2,500 Amazon reviews over here and, probably, suppressing them from there.

Okay I needed to vent.

And with all that, at the end of the day, I managed to tip-toe back into reviewing: Pierre Boulez: Domaines, by Michel Plasson and Ensemble Musique Vivante conducted by Diego Masson, Harmonia Mundi, reissued on DG’s Pierre Boulez complete works.