by Justin Davidson
An article from the Omaha World-Herald points out that classical music is far more (relatively) popular among downloaders than it was when you could walk into an emporium, hear Karl Böhm's Brahms 4th rattling the racks, and ask for advice from an obsessively well informed young man with a beard. The article mentions e-music, which is the mother of all bargain bins, with classical fare from large independent labels such as Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, and Koch, as well as outfits that existed only long enough to stamp a logo on a compact disc. I write a column for e-music's online magazine, so I spend a fair amount of time combing through the catalog, but I don't have a prayer of keeping pace with the flow of new additions: 365 CDs just since the beginning of March! There's a lot of chaff, of course, but the site's subscribers don't seem to have any trouble hacking through it to assert their idiosyncratic taste. The current chart-topper is the Pacifica Quartet's recording of String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 by that easy-listening phenom, Elliott Carter. (A free promotional download helped, but still.) No. 2 is Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic, a minimalist portrayal of slow-motion calamity that caused one Floridian subscriber's spouse to ask: "What's wrong with the player?" Move over, Bocelli.