Too Little Choice

Another recent thread about a Carl Orff piece prompted a thought. How many people believe the Orff only wrote Carmina Burana? If you to a music store you have lots of Orff choices, as long as all you want is Carmina Burana. Even Catulli Carmina, which used to be semi available is disappearing. Lieder und Gesange, Veni Creator Spiritus, Trionfo di Afrodite and lots more are missing from most stores.
The issue isn't just for us Orff fans. Why do record producers pound away at the same old chestnuts and complain that no one wants classical music. Well how many copies of Mozarts Requiem do they think we need? It seems only Naxos is addressing the under recorded music. And that's a lot of music.
Keis, you could ask the same question as to why do movie producers prefer sequels--the answer is what do they feel comfortable is going to sell. Naxos avoids big production costs by using less expensive orchestras, so they have a little more leeway to offer a wider variety of music. The major labels have certain break-even levels for sales of their classical recordings based on their costs (and with major orchestras and their work rules, those are significantly higher than what Naxos has to pay), and in their (likely) corporate mentality they are probably not willing to risk that the public will buy enough copies of a piece they've never heard of for them to reach that break-even point. Major (and minor) orchestras are faced with this dilemma too--while a Slatkin may well program new works to promote contemporary composers, he's also got to include enough chestnuts in the programs to keep the audiences and donations coming. It's unfortunate, although at least we do have a Naxos out there (I'll give Telarc a little credit here too, they make enough from the Kunzel pops recordings to offer things like the Mendelsohn octets and the Glass, Adams and Rozsa concerti).
Rcprince is on target with respect to the corporate mentality, a mindset doubtless conditioned by the numbers--last figures I saw (about a year ago) indicated that classical purchases constitute less than 3% of the U.S. market. And yet...there _are_ labels besides Naxos who transcend the "warhorse" paradigm...among them ASV, Channel Islands, BIS, Lyrinx, and Hyperion (all of which, incidentally, appear to be risk takers by nature, given their willingness to also give SACD a tumble).

Labels such as these may be harder to find in the typical CD outlet, but that's where the Internet can show its stuff. What they produce is certainly worth the effort of a Web search.

If you run across a good Catulli, by the way, let me know.