Back

Anyone remember andante.com?

September 11, 2017 by norman lebrecht

13 comments.


Another memory provoked by the death of Pierre Bergé.

In 2001, the fashion mogul co-financed the launch of the first dedicated online classical music site. It contained news, reviews, features, reference articles and even its own record label, mostly retrievals of historic broadcasts. Some of the content was memorable, some of the recordings indispensable. I particularly treasured a 1960 Vienna Philharmonic Mahler concert with Dmitri Mitropoulos.

No expense was spared. The design was exquisite. The site was run from offices in Paris and New York. For a year or so Andante seemed to be the future.

Then, without warning, Bergé demanded his money back. Maybe he read something he didn’t like. He was always short-tempered and capricious.

The Andante site was taken over by the Naive record label, with drastic cost cutting. In 2006, it was shut down.

All that remains are the recordings, if you can still find them.

 


Comments (13)

  1. Ungeheuer says:

    I too remember. Exceptional issues and much missed.

    1. Brian B says:

      I think I bought every one of their sets. There was only one I didn’t like. The transfer of the Toscanini Salzburg Falstaff was poor.

  2. Halldor says:

    Elegant website, as I recall. One of so many idealistic online projects that were the future once: yet another victim of the seemingly unquenchable belief that it’s somehow possible to make money (or even break even) in the open market with serious classical music. (How long till the funders of Bachtrack cut their losses, get bored, or simply run out of cash?)

    Like alchemy, cold fusion, and perpetual motion, no amount of proof – no number of failed experiments – ever seems sufficient to persuade people that it’s impossible. Andante is definitely one of the better-looking corpses on the path, though.

    1. Saxon Broken says:

      We are fortunate that Norman keeps going.

  3. Cubs Fan says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve wondered for a long time what happened. The 8 volumes I bought are terrific. Ravel, Mahler, the Philadelphia sets…love ’em. Wonder if they’re worth much anymore with everything online.

  4. Andante.com was one of the very first internet memory about classical music in my childhood! I was referred to this site by Pierre Boulez and found it clearly one of the better designed classical portal at that time. I would say it was pretty decent even by today’s standard, if my memory doesn’t distort.

    I also remember there was a Bruckner 9 recording with Boulez and the Wiener Philharmoniker on Andante.com, which was quite exceptional and kinda rarity at that time.

    1. B says:

      I also remember that Bruckner 9! I remember always looking forward to it being released on DVD, but it never seemed to have happened. Or maybe it did and I had moved on by that point.

  5. B says:

    I remember. I’ve got the VPO Bruckner 7, 8, & 9 set with Böhm, Furtwängler, and Karajan. One of my favorite recordings of the 7th. Deluxe packaging indeed.

    I was a music student back then and really enjoyed the Andante website and offerings.

  6. M. says:

    Regardless of what part Bergé played in Andante.com’s demise, they had a very weak business model from the start. Their releases very often competed with long-known, well-distributed studio recordings of the same works by the same artists, at a higher price, with an impressive documentation that was of interest to specialists only. What market is there for a fifteenth version of Karajan’s Bruckner, from a take three days before the one previously available? Bundling Toscanini’s 1937 and Karajan’s 1957 Salzburg “Falstaff” is editorially interesting, but how much can it sell? The premium, book-like packaging made little difference: people who chase rare half-a-century-old radio broadcasts are used to plainer stuff.

    (I remember the website well, but not how it might have sustained itself. Were there ads?)

    I think they eventually switched to more affordable products, but the writing was on the wall.

  7. MWnyc says:

    God, how could I ever forget?

    1. Brian says:

      The scars still show on many a NYC music journalist or administrator who did their time there…

  8. michael gray says:

    Yes, Andante burned through 10 million of Pierre’s money. It had a noble purpose, but the
    market was just too narrow to support it as an on-going business.

  9. Steve Bauman says:

    I have the Andante Faust restoration with Marcel Journet. It is by far the best re-issue ever. The Church Scene between Margarite and Mefistofeles is particularly well done. The organ on the original 78’s and all other re-issues sounded extremely muddy. This muddiness was totally cleaned up on Andante. I also have 8 other Andante opera re-issues, all of which are superb. I’ve enjoyed them many times over the years.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *