Este artigo do The Guardian constitui uma notável lição, extensível a muitos outros domínios da natureza humana. Contra o pessimismo e catastrofismo – tão mundano e (hélas) tão luso –, Andrew Clements realiza uma cuidada análise da evolução do mercado editorial discográfico, desde finais do século passado, quando Norman Lebrecht – qual profeta da desgraça – previu o final da edição discográfica.
Evidentemente, a edição discográfica prossegue, tendo apenas operado algumas transformações e adaptações à realidade actual, senão vejamos:
«It is 12 years since the music writer Norman Lebrecht first donned his Cassandra costume and predicted the demise of the classical recording industry in the early years of the new century. He has reaffirmed his dire prophesies several times since, but so far they have proved considerably less accurate than those of his Trojan counterpart. Classical CDs are still very much with us and, to judge from the quantity, variety and provenance of the new releases that continue to tumble through my letter box each month, they are more diverse and often more enterprising than ever before.
Yet it's undeniable that the profile of the industry has changed significantly over the last 10 years.
More and more historical tapes have been finding their way on to disc, too, and while the quality of some of those documentary recordings has sometimes been questionable the best have been truly revelatory. The release on Testament, for instance, of the Ring cycle conducted by Joseph Keilberth and recorded in stereo by Decca engineers at the Bayreuth festival in 1955, was unquestionably one of the most important of the last 10 years, a Wagner document of outstanding importance and arguably the greatest of all Rings to be made available on disc. In Britain both the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne have established their own labels, raiding their own archives and those of other enthusiasts to perpetuate performances that genuinely deserve to be called historic, such as the ROH's Don Carlo from 1958, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini with Jon Vickers in the title role, and the Glyndebourne Pelléas et Mélisande from 1963, with Michel Roux and Denise Duval.
But the establishment of in-house labels hasn't been confined to British opera houses. Right across the world, from the San Francisco Symphony (whose Mahler cycle with their music director Michael Tilson Thomas has been widely admired, particularly for the exceptional quality of the recorded sound) to the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, which launched its own label earlier this year with an outstanding version of Shostakovich's opera The Nose, conducted by Valery Gergiev, orchestras and opera companies have set up their own brands, over which they are able to exert complete artistic control.
Though they have since been followed by others here such as the Hallé, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia, the orchestra that led the way here was the London Symphony, which cannily played to its built-in strengths from the very start, by releasing a whole Berlioz cycle with its principal conductor for much of the decade, Colin Davis, that complemented and in some respects surpassed the series of Berlioz studio recordings that Davis had made for Philips a quarter of a century earlier, including an outstanding set of The Trojans. Compared with making studio recordings, the financial savings in creating a commercial disc from a run of live performances (and maybe one patching session in the same concert hall) are hugely significant, and the inevitable imperfections are a small price to pay alongside the gain in immediacy that a live performance brings.
All this increased specialism – in the last few years especially, new recordings of the core orchestral repertory have become rarer and rarer – would seem perfectly suited to being made available as downloads. So far, though, serious classical disc buyers have proved remarkably resistant to the digital revolution. While 25 years ago collectors embraced compact discs very quickly, just as soon as their convenience and superiority compared with vinyl LPs had been demonstrated, they have been far more reluctant to abandon their silver discs in favour of MP3 files. Classical releases can be downloaded from sites like ITunes, but it's still only the more popular repertoire and glitzy performers that are made available in that way, though a few labels, notably Chandos in this country, routinely make all their releases available as MP3 files.»