An old friend has just given me, burnt on to a CD, some symphonies of Sammartini, taken from an old Saga LP from the 1960s. Instantly takes me back to my student rooms in Trinity. And quite wonderful to hear again.
Saga was one of the cheap record labels of the time (another was the terrific Supraphon, from which I got to know a lot of East European and Russian music). It wasn’t that cheap though, by modern standards: buying a record was still quite an event. If I’m remembering right, Saga records were about 12/6 — that’s twelve shillings and sixpence to you! — when full-price records were about 32/6. To put things into perspective, that was then about the cost of three Penguin books, five pints of beer, or twenty five Mars bars. Compare now when Naxos CDs are cheaper than Penguins, cost not much more than two pints, or a dozen Mars bars. And of course there’s about twice as much music on a classical CD compared with an LP, and they aren’t instantly damaged by dodgy student turntables!