Monday, December 1, 2014

Some Improvements

1) No playlist and no regret.

2) Classical composer/artist names have been normalised. I counted 284 different spellings of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and 23 names of Choir of King's College, Cambridge. Thousands of duplicate classical artist pages have been merged. You can search for Rachmaninov and still find Sergei Rachmaninoff (also try CPE Bach, DSCH).

3) Composers' pages start to make sense. The Popular section (which used to be playground for spammers) now becomes a nice introduction for casual listeners. See Robert Schumann:


And the discography is easier to browse now without all the "Tender Classical For Study" stuff. Leonard Bernstein and Benjamin Britten are good examples.

Can you guess which composer page was this?


It was Gabriel Faure. But it could just as well be any other composer, since they all looked like that.

Now the page is slightly more useful, with the wonderful Stephen Cleobury – Fauré: Requiem & Messe Basse at the top.


There's still so much to improve, but the below 50 composer pages are already great starting points for people who want to get into classical music or explore a bit more. Comparing to these changes, all the playlists I've done before are really nothing.

Johann Sebastian Bach
Béla Bartók
Ludwig van Beethoven
Hector Berlioz
Georges Bizet
Johannes Brahms
Benjamin Britten
William Byrd
John Cage
Frederic Chopin
Aaron Copland
François Couperin
Claude Debussy
Guillaume Dufay
Antonín Dvořák
Gabriel Faure
Giovanni Gabrieli
George Frideric Handel
Franz Joseph Haydn
Unknown Artist
Orlande de Lassus
Franz Liszt
Guillaume de Machaut
Gustav Mahler
Felix Mendelssohn
Claudio Monteverdi
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Johannes Ockeghem
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Sergei Prokofiev
Giacomo Puccini
Henry Purcell
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Maurice Ravel
Gioachino Rossini
Domenico Scarlatti
Arnold Schoenberg
Franz Schubert
Robert Schumann
Dmitri Shostakovich
Jean Sibelius
Johann Strauss II
Richard Strauss
Igor Stravinsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Giuseppe Verdi
Antonio Vivaldi
Richard Wagner

Enjoy and share the music.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Help testing the new classical radio

A small percentage of users now get revamped classical radio. Try it here: https://play.spotify.com/radio/genre/classical Use the skip button to flip through a few tracks.

If you only see soundtracks and greatest hits from not-so-great compilations and less than 10 composers, you are still on the old radio. Please ignore it like you did in the past few years.

If you see a wide range of selections from respectable labels, then play on. The more you listen, the more users will get the new version.


Your feedback will be much appreciated. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Composers are now displayed for the Harmonia Mundi catalog

For those of you who already followed my Harmonia Mundi - hmGold Series playlist, it might take a while before the composers appear in the desktop client. In web player everyone should see the composers now.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 New Classical Releases Index (Collaborative Playlist)

Thanks everyone for updating the 2011, 2012 and 2013 New Classical Releases Indices. Let's do it again in 2014 and hopefully next year you won't have to use a playlist to browse the newly recorded/released classical albums of the year.

Same rules as before:

1. One track per album. You can click album titles and browse full albums.

2. Add new tracks at the top of the playlist, so the new additions can be found easily.

3. Please avoid duplicated entries. Use the filter bar to check before adding. For example: before you add Daniel Barenboim – New Year's Concert 2014 / Neujahrskonzert 2014, you can press Ctrl (CMD) + F to bring out the filter bar, input partial title (like Barenboim or new year's concert) to check if the album has already been added.

4. Only add newly recorded albums. No re-issues, re-packages or compilations of previously released material.

Get the regularly updated 2014 classical catalog in one Spotify playlist here: 2014 New Classical Releases Index (No reissues or compilations).

Friday, January 10, 2014

Guest Playlist: Frank Zappa's Musical Evolution

Guest post from Kris Herbst:
I assembled this playlist of 401 Zappa tracks that, for me, represent his best and most accessible musical compositions (omitting tracks where I find the musical quality is secondary to comedy bits or commentary):  Frank Zappa's Musical Evolution (401 tracks, 19 hours).

To provide a sense of the progression of Zappa’s musical ideas and development, I have arranged the tracks in chronological order, based on when they were first recorded or performed, rather than by release date, with help from the discography and timelines in this site: http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/index.html.

I have grouped together alternative recordings of the same piece, in chronological order, always beginning with the first instance of a piece, followed by alternate recordings of that piece, and then followed by guitar solos from that piece, also in chronological order of performance. This groups recordings of guitar solos (which Zappa often released at later times, as separate pieces, with different names) with the piece in which they were originally performed.

Suggestions to improve it are welcome: kris at globalweb.org.

A little info about me: I became a Zappa fan in 1969, at the age of 13, when I was turned on to the "We're Only In It For The Money" album by my Boy Scout troopmaster. Two years later, I went to my first Zappa concert, when the band included Flo and Eddie and Ian Underwood. Listening to Zappa helped open my mind to exploring a wide range of music, especially jazz. I saw Zappa in concert once more, in 1974, fronting one of his best bands that included Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ruth Underwood, George Duke and Don Preston on keyboards, the Fowler brothers (Bruce, Walt, and Tom on trombone, trumpet, and bass, respectively), Jeff Simmons on guitar, and Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson on drums.



Thanks Kris, I look forward to listening to more Zappa using this playlist.

To all the Zappa fans: you can also check out my Zappa as Composer playlist, and follow the revamped Frank Zappa artist page (all albums have the correct original release year now, instead of the 2012 remaster year like in all other music services), so you will get notifications when the Zappa Family Trust makes his posthumous catalog available digitally.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Harmonia Mundi - hmGold Series in 1 Spotify Playlist

"harmonia mundi has earned a reputation as one of the most important classical music labels with their emphasis on the highest quality both in performances and sound. The Gold series is an assemblage of cornerstones in establishing that reputation - a collection that contains innumerable gems." - from Classics Online.

"Described by the New York Times as 'one of Europe’s finest independent record companies', harmonia mundi’s origins date back half a century when, in 1958, a French journalist with connections to the book trade, Bernard Coutaz, decided to found his own publishing house for music. A year later the label had released its first recording, Chants From The Slavonic Liturgy.

The largest independent producer of classical recordings in France, the artist roster for harmonia mundi reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of classical music superstars. With ensembles including The Academy of Ancient Music to Trio Wanderer, Al Ayre Español to Theatre of Voices, Les Arts Florissants to Tokyo String Quartet, artists such as William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, Andrew Manze, Kent Nagano, Dorothea Röschmann, Andreas Scholl, Andreas Staier and Alexandre Tharaud, leading chamber groups, choirs, orchestras – the list is virtually endless and covers most musical periods and classical genres.

You can read more about the history of Harmonia Mundi and watch a video clip of its founder Bernard Coutaz here." - from Presto Classical.


Get this collection in 1 Spotify playlist: Harmonia Mundi - hmGold Series (1788 tracks, 117 hours). A sampler album is placed at the beginning. 3 double-disk samplers of Baroque, Romantic and Choral Works can be found at the end. Some longer than 10 minutes tracks are unavailable at this moment, but it should be fixed soon. More info on the recordings available on the official siteArkiv and Music Web.

In addition to those listed in the intro, you can also follow these excellent HM artists: Paul Lewis (his widely acclaimed Beethoven recordings have finally become available on Spotify), Isabelle FaustRichard EgarrPaul HillierPaul O'Dette and Anonymous 4, so you will get notifications for their new content.

Enjoy the sound of harmonia mundi.

Friday, January 3, 2014

DG: The History Of Classical Music On 100 CDs (or 1 Playlist) - From Gregorian Chant To Górecki

Introduction from Presto Classical:

OVERVIEW

• It starts with Gregorian Chant and Machaut chansons and ends with Gorecki and the Minimalists.

• The greatest composers have as many as five CDs devoted to them (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven).

20th-century music is well represented with no fewer than 20 CDs.

Operas and major choral works are represented by highlights, but otherwise the edition presents, as far as possible, only complete works throughout.

• Altogether, there are more than 80 composers in the set, with over 400 works for a total of around 120 hours of music.


REPERTOIRE

As the box is intended for the non-expert, the repertoire is centrally based around the Classical and Romantic composers.

Here's the rundown:

CD 1 – 20 take us from Gregorian Chant to the sons of Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, with the great names of the Baroque – Monteverdi, Purcell, Charpentier, Rameau, JS Bach, Handel and Vivaldi all featured.

CD 21 – 33 are devoted to the Viennese Classics: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

CD 34 – 49 cover the early Romantic composers, from Schubert, Paganini, Berlioz, Chopin to Liszt and Schumann.

CD 50 – 69 comprise the later Romantics – Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, plus Verdi and Wagner highlights.

CD 70 – 78 bring together turn-of-the-century composers, including Mahler, Debussy, Richard Strauss and Puccini.

CD 79 – 100 includes 20th-century masterworks from Stravinsky to Messiaen, Boulez and Gorecki, taking in Holst, Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Ives, Janacek, Ravel and many others on the way.

HIGHLIGHTS

It reads like a cornucopia of the great, good and glorious. Look out for:

• the Orlando Consort’s forays into Gregorian Chant and Machaut;
John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach;
• Minkowski’s Charpentier and Rameau;
• Trevor Pinnock’s Handel and Vivaldi;
Karajan’s Creation;
• Anda’s Mozart Piano Concertos;
• Beethoven at the hands of Bernstein and Karajan;
Rossini with Abbado;
• Chopin and Liszt Concertos with Argerich;
• Fischer-Dieskau’s Schubert and Schumann;
• Barenboim’s Chopin Nocturnes;
• Gilels’ Brahms Second Piano Concerto;
• Kubelik’s Dvořák;
• Mravinsky’s Tchaikovsky “Pathétique”;
• Karajan’s Mahler Five;
• Kleiber’s La Traviata highlights;
• Abbado’s Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky;
• Boulez’s Schoenberg and Webern
• the Messiaen Turangalila Symphony and Gorecki’s Symphony no. 3!

—————————————

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: DG - The History Of Classical Music - From Gregorian Chant To Górecki (1388 tracks, 115 hours). More info on the official site. A few tracks are missing due to transcoding issues; they should be fixed soon.

My previous playlist 1200 Years of Women Composers: From Hildegard To Higdon is a good companion since no female composer was included in this DG set.

To navigate huge playlists more easily: 1. select the playlist, 2. press Ctrl (CMD) + F, or scroll up in iOS, to bring out the filter bar, 3. type in composer/performer/composition, e.g. Bizet or Abbado or Carmen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

We Love Music

My dear readers,

Please forgive my absence for the most time of the year, and allow me to share some positive news with you, regarding this blog/app, Spotify, and classical music.

I started to work at Spotify since the beginning of 2013, in the Content Operations team. That was the sole reason I could no longer find any time for making and sharing playlists, which occupied most of my spare time between December 2009 and January 2013. There were times that I tried to finish a playlist (there's more than 100), but soon I realized I wouldn't have enough time to do it properly - the Mozart playlist alone took me more than 15 hours. Looking back it amazes me that more than 300 playlists, which I feel comfortable to share, were finished in the past few years.

Instead I immersed in work, with the same enthusiasm as when I was an outsider. Working with all these remarkably talented and passionate music lovers made me a even bigger Spotify fan, and everyday I feel grateful that I can contribute to one of the greatest projects in music history: to make more people listen to more music, and pay for music every time it is played. I cannot get into details at this moment, but you will probably notice the difference that I made with the team, when you look at Frank SinatraJohn Coltrane or the splendid London Symphony Orchestra pages. Most importantly, after one year of work, I can confidently say that we are now in a good position to act responsibly to the new problems that have accompanied the rise of streaming, address the root causes, and become everyman's best music service for classical and all music.

(Never thought I could appear on the same page with Ludde,
the creator of Spotiamp and tons of other great stuff)
In 2014, I will try to share some new playlists, at least more often than this year, and feature more guest posts from classical labels and music makers. If you want to share playlists, or your thoughts on how can Spotify improve for classical music, please drop me a line at SpotifyClassical at gmail dot com. I won't be able to reply to everyone in time but I will do my best.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and hope you enjoy even more great music in 2014.

Music is the best.
Ulysses

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lutosławski Centennial - Complete Chronological Catalogue on Spotify

"One of the 20th-century's great symphonists, Lutoslawski created an impressive, always progressing body of music in the most difficult of circumstances. As the commander of a military radio station, he was captured by the invading Germans at the beginning of World War II. He escaped, and survived the occupation by playing piano duos in Warsaw cafes, including his Variations on a Theme of Paganini. In 1949 his Symphony No. 1 was the first Polish work to be denounced as formalist by Stalinist cultural politicians. In reaction, Lutoslawski wrote public works based on folk material, while continuing to develop a more personal language privately. In the cultural thaw following Stalin's death, Lutoslawski became a major international figure, renowned for innovations in form and performing techniques and a consistently eloquent personal voice." - LA Phil


Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Witold Lutosławski - Complete Chronological Catalogue (187 tracks, total time: 12 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Program notes here.

Happy 100th birthday.