Concertgebouw Orchestra offers free downloads

In honor of Bernard Haitink’s 80th birthday, the Dutch broadcast networks AVRO and Radio 4 are offering free downloads of the conductor leading the Royal Concertgeobouw Orchestra. Each weekday from March 9 to 15, one recording will be available at www.radio4.nl. (Repertoire has not yet been announced.)

Being the download junkie that I am, naturally I followed that link straight away to find out more (the link, incidentally, brings up a Google translation of a Netherlands Radio 4 news item — not a bad translation, as it happens, and certainly good enough to get the message across).

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve marked this on my calendar and I’ll definitely follow it up. If you follow that link above you’ll find a further link which explains that this is the second time for Radio 4 to offer free downloads. At the end of last year they gave away a series of ten live Symphony recordings by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to celebrate their (the orchestra’s) 120th Anniversary. More than 600,000 downloads resulted. Of course, I downloaded all ten, and I’m really glad I did, since it’s a bit of a treasure trove of fine conducting and orchestral playing. The earliest recording is of a 1979 performance of Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony led by Kiril Kondrashin. The others are: Mahler 1 (Bernstein, 1987), Dvorak 8 (Giulini, 1990), Schubert ‘Unfinished’ (Harnoncourt, 1997), Beethoven 2, Brahms 2, Franck Symphony in D minor (Jansons, 2004), Saint-Saëns ‘Organ’ Symphony (Myung-Whun Chung, 2005), Bruckner 8 (Haitink, 2005), and Sibelius 2 (Jansons, 2005). I haven’t had time to listen to everything yet, but what I have heard is pretty wonderful (highlights so far have been the Bruckner and the Sibelius).

Anyway, I know I’m pretty much out on a limb when it comes to music downloads like this, but at least you can’t say you haven’t been told. One thing to be aware of if anyone does decide to hop on the download wagon: you first need to register with the Radio 4 site in order to download anything.