The collected works of practically everybody


I’ve been cleaning out my CD collection lately.


And my question is: Why oh why do I have all these CDs?


I went through a buying spree in the early 2000s. I am especially susceptible to complete sets of – well, anything. And everything. The complete Scarlatti keyboard sonatas. The complete Brahms chamber music. (I don’t even like Brahms!)



And then this company – which calls itself Brilliant! – starts coming out with complete sets of everything a composer has written.


Evil geniuses!


Their business scheme is clever. Somebody in Slovakia records all of Beethoven’s bagatelles, somebody in a church in Wales records all of his Welsh folksongs (did you know Beethoven wrote Welsh folksongs?). All you have to do is locate them, and get the rights to them, for a buck and a half. And you remarket them, and all the other stuff, as the COMPLETE BEETHOVEN.


How can a human bean resist?


I own the COMPLETE BEETHOVEN. And the COMPLETE MOZART, which is vast. And the COMPLETE J. S. BACH, which is entirely daunting.


They have smaller sort of semi-complete sets, like the COMPLETE HAYDN SYMPHONIES, which I also own. It is a box of rainbows. I am also partial to some of their oddball sets, like a five-CD compilation of the piano sonatas of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Scriabin; this is more like a box of fireworks drenched in Chanel No. 5, with a few angry cobras mixed in.


I’m currently spelunking the COMPLETE BEETHOVEN. I’m working my way through the piano sonatas right now. Then, I think, the quartets. Then the other chamber music, most of which I barely know.


I should make it to the Welsh folk songs by Christmastime.


Now: back to cleaning.


Would anyone like a whole bunch of French operettas sung in German?


Ladies and gentlemen.  Please.  I implore you.  Stop me before I go on another buying spree.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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