June 14, 2009

Recreating those quaint days of the last decade

The New York Times reports on a shocking anachronism – a CD store:

Boston Early Music Festival: As in Days of Yore, CDs in a Store


BOSTON — At an early-music festival, you expect to see antique instruments: pegless cellos, gambas with ornate scrolls, wooden recorders and tranverse flutes of every size, and perhaps an occasional shawm, rebec or vielle. And you expect to see re-creations of ensembles that composers no longer write for (although a few composers seem to be gravitating toward the gamba now).

But the Boston Early Music Festival has taken museumlike recreation a step further. Just outside one of the exhibition spaces at the Radisson Hotel, it has recreated a physical CD shop, called, in fact, the BEMF CD Store. You may remember those: they could be found almost everywhere as recently as two or three years ago but are quickly going extinct.

Like the historically informed ensembles that thrive on the festival’s stages, the BEMF CD Store actually works: you can browse the bins, arranged handily by composer or (for discs with mixed composers) soloist or ensemble, just as you could in CD shops of yore, and you can take some home with you in exchange for cash or plastic: another lifelike touch. The cash-register player said the shop was doing a brisk business; quite often, the instrument’s blue lights flashed totals in the hundreds of dollars.

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