Dudamel's Grammy winner – why you can't buy it in shops

Dudamel's Grammy winner – why you can't buy it in shops


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2012

It’s a Los Angeles Philharmonic recording of the Brahms fourth symphony and no-one’s quite sure this morning where to find it because physically it does not exist.

Under the antediluvian terms of the orchestra’s collective bargaining agreement, the performance could not be released on disc without triggering heavy payments to the players. Neither Deutsche Grammophon nor the Philharmonic thought this was a profitable proposition, so they released it on iTunes only. As a consequence, it received hardly any reviews and sits out there in the cyberworld, deprived of cover art, awaiting your attention.

I’m waiting to hear if a deal will be stuck to allow a physical release now the Grammys have earned it all this free promo. Will keep you posted. Meantime, mant congrats to Gustavo and my friends in the LA Phil – and a special one to producer Chris Alder, whose ninth Grammy this is.


  • Ziggy says:

    Many thanks for alerting me to this, Mr. Lebrecht! I don’t download; but have passed it to a friend who does. And has.

  • Steve says:

    “No one is quite sure where to find it”. An odd statement considering iTunes is the #1 music retailer in the world.

    Isn’t the picture below the non-existent cover art?

    My only complaint is there is no lossless version available, just the pretty goof (but still lossy) AAC 256kbps format at iTunes.

  • Steve says:

    The agreement with iTunes must be a little more complex, as it’s exclusive. Normally one would expect DG to release it on their own website too (typically in both MP3 and lossless FLAC) and also would show up on Amazon MP3

  • Petros Linardos says:

    The DG website has an announcement of the Grammy, along with a link to iTunes.


    It doesn’t allow a direct download. By contrast, many other recordings are available for direct download from the DG website, often in FLAC (lossless) format. Confusing.

  • James Brinton says:

    If they are hoping to tap iTunes large user base, I suspect they will be disappointed. iTunes is not much liked among classical music lovers; it’s far more a pop medium. As for me, I dislike its lossy format. I don’t use it any more.
    I wonder why they went to Apple; Apple’s rake-off is huge; if they dislike paying musicians, they should certainly dislike paying Apple’s commission.
    BTW, has anyone heard from the orchestra members? They are definitely getting the short end, however the contract reads.

    • Steve de Mena says:

      That’s nonsense. Do you have some facts to back that up besides the fact YOU don’t like iTunes? What I had read was iTunes classical market share % was higher than that of brick & mortar stores. Have you bought any iTunes music since they switches to “iTunes Plus”, which doubled the AAC bitrate from 128kbps to 256kbps (& removed DRM)?

  • Peter says:

    Neither the LA Phil or Dudamel are an obvious choice for Brahms, perhaps it’s best left as a download only. It does however show again the rather US centric view of classical music at the Grammys.

  • Bob Thomas says:

    I found the word “antediluvian” to be a curious choice. Actually, the Phil was one of the first — perhaps the first — orchestra to focus its recording efforts on the download market as opposed to CDs. I suspect the issue isn’t the Phil but rather DGG, which probably figured (correctly) that the world had enough CDs of Brahms 4th in existence. Perhaps the Grammy will spur DGG to issue the piece on CD.

  • Sixtus says:

    iTunes’ biggest problem in classical music are the still-audible audible gaps you get between “tracks” in supposedly continuous music, like an opera.

    re Dudamel’s 4th: The DG site has links to audition enough of the music for me to decide that the classic Carlos Kleiber interpretation, among others, is not displaced. There’s a considerable lack of propulsion all around. On the other hand, it is nice to have a Grammy for music performed with the authentic 19th century string arrangement (divided violins, cellos left and violas right).

    • Tamara Vallejos says:

      You should be able to massage this a bit yourself by going into iTunes > Edit > Preferences > Crossfade Songs.

  • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

    At least the DG tricksters were not rewarded at the Grammys!