Saturday, 14 June 2008

If it looks too good to be true... is probably a fraud. Yes, I know; however.....

I like lieder, particularly Schubert's, and have a modest collection of recordings on disk or cassette, now never played, and on CDs, now copied to my Mac so that I can pluck heathroses, chat up the mill girl or sing on the water while I toy with some tedious database or pointless website. I recently added one song by downloading it from iTunes (this cost 79p).

A couple of weeks ago I logged on to the iTunes Store to look for some more and found that there was an album available for download containing four hundred and sixty-three Schubert lieder sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau accompanied by Gerald Moore, at a price of just under eight pounds sterling. This would fill about twenty CDs, and works out at 1.725 pence for each song.

There were some reviews by purchasers expressing amazement and delight so I reckoned this was no fraud and clicked to download; a couple of hours later, there they all were on my hard disk. It will take over twenty-four hours to listen to them, so I shall probably spread the session over a few months: even Dietrich and Gerald might pall if I try to play the lot in one go.

When I got the invoice I found that 79p had been deducted for one of the songs included in the album because I had previously downloaded and paid for it.

This photo of Fischer-Dieskau was taken in 2005, when he was eighty. The collection was issued around that time, though most of the recordings on it were made earlier.

Naturally I told friends about this treasure, but it was too late for them to share in it: within a few days the download price for this album had changed to $127 on the US site and GBP129.85 on the English one.

I suppose the first price must have been a mistake on Apple's part and I hope that hundreds took advantage of it before it was corrected. In a quarter of a century of playing with computers (only PCs until recently) I have had some miserable times arising from the greed and arrogance of hardware and software vendors, and it is pleasant to think that on this occasion one of them has given me a happy experience, even if it was by accident.

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