Thursday, November 24, 2011

Franz Schubert: Complete Chronological Catalogue D. 1 - 998 In One Spotify Playlist

Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828) was among the first of the Romantics, and the composer who, more than any other, brought the art song (lied) to artistic maturity. During his short but prolific career, he produced masterpieces in nearly every genre, all characterized by rich harmonies, an expansive treatment of classical forms, and a seemingly endless gift for melody. - AllMusic

This playlist was compiled after the chronological catalogue of Schubert works by Otto Erich Deutsch, sorted by the D Nnumbers. Some composition has an extra letter after the number, like D. 124b (second version of D. 124) and D. 1a (newly discovered piece since the Duetsch Catalogue was completed, composed around the same time of D. 1). All works available on Spotify were collected into this 113-hour chronological playlist, through more than 2,000 searches.

As with my other composer playlists, my goal is to feature as many fine recording as possible. And since Spotify launched in America, I also have to make sure all the tracks are available on Spotify USA, unless the sole recording of a piece is only on Spotify UK, which I use. Still, about 200 track in this playlist are not currently available on Spotify USA, please make sure you have unchecked "Hide unplayable tracks" in Spotify's Preferences to browse the full list.

When the playlist is fully loaded in your Spotify, press Ctrl (CMD on Macs) + G to set it to album view. Then you can use the filter bar (Ctrl + F) to browse by genre or find specific works your are looking for.
  • Type in symphony to browse the 13 symphonies:

No. 1 (Menuhin/EMI), No. 2 (Wand/RCA), No. 3 (Zender/Hänssler), No.4 "Tragic"(Davis/RCA), No. 5 (Harnoncourt/Warner), No.6 "Little"(Beecham/EMI), Symphony in D (Marriner/Decca. Sketches orchestrated by Brian Newbould, D. 615), Symphony in D (Gülke/Berlin Classics. D. 708a), No.7 (Litschauer/Naxos. Completed by Weingartner), No.8 "Unfinished" (original version: Abbado/DG; 4-movement version: Mackerras/EMI), No.9 "Great" (Bernstein/Sony), Symphony "Gmunden-Gastein" (Samuel/Centaur. D. 849, reconstructed by G. Elsholz, probably spurious), No. 10 (Gülke/Berlin Classics)

D. 708a and D. 936a (No. 10) were tagged not as symphony but sinfonische, and D. 615 symphonic, you will have to change the keywords. Wand, Zender, Marriner, and Abbado's recording are from their complete sets of the symphonies, so you can also click the album title and browse other symphonies in those albums. I wanted to include Brüggen's compete set but it's not on Spotify USA.
  • Type in piano sonata to browse the 22 piano sonatas:

E major, D. 157 (Oppitz/Hänssler), C major, D. 279 (Klien/Vox), E major, D. 459 (Klien/Vox), A minor, D. 537 (Nebolsin/Naxos), A-flat major, D. 557 (Kempff/DG), E minor, D. 566 ((Oppitz/Hänssler), E-flat major, D. 568 (Pludermacher/Transart), F-sharp minor, D. 571 B major (Schiff/Decca), D. 575 C major (Uchida/Philips), D. 613 F minor (Keller/MGB), D. 625 C-sharp minor (Badura-Skoda/Genuin), D. 655 A major (Damerini/Arts Music), D. 664 A minor (Richter/BBC Legends), D. 784 C major (Endres/Capriccio), D. 840 A minor (4-movement version, Gothoni/Ondine), D. 845 D major (Uchida/Decca), D. 850 G major (Andsnes/EMI), D. 894 C minor (Sokolov/Opus 111), D. 916b "Sonata Oubliée" (Knauer/Berlin Classics), D. 958 A major (Pollini/DG), D. 959 B-flat major (Perahia/Sony), D. 960 (Richter/Alto)

D. 613 and D. 894 were tagged not as "piano sonata", you may use their D numbers to filter. D. 916b was not even tagged with its D. number, filter with the artist name Knauer instead. I wanted to use more recordings from Kempff, Uchida, Lupu and Schiff, but most of them are not on Spotify USA yet.

You can also type in piano to browse works with piano. In addition to the sonatas, you will see dozens of other works, including 6 Moments musicaux (Brendel), 12 German Ländler (Goode) and the Impromptus (D. 899 Perahia; D. 935 Serkin).
  • Type in string qu to browse the string quartets and quintets:

Ensembles in this section include Melos Quartet, Kodaly Quartet, Borodin Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, Belcea Quartet (Death and the Maiden), Kim Kashkashian/Gidon Kremer/Yo-Yo Ma/Daniel Phillips (Quartet No. 15, D. 887), Heinrich Schiff/Alban Berg Quartet (String Quintet D. 956) and others.
  • Type in lied or song to browse the lieder:

This section features dozens of singers, including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Fritz Wunderlich, Hermann Prey, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elly Ameling, Peter Pears, Janet Baker, Anne Sofie von Otter, Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore, and Thomas Quasthoff. The tracks were taken from over 100 albums. A few lied recordings do not have those two keywords in their titles, you may try recital, sings or simply Winterreise.
  • Type in hand or duet for piano four-hand works. Pianists in this section include: Kissin/Levine, Richter/Britten, Perahia/Lupu, Eschenbach/Frantz and more. 
  • Type in fragment for the odds and ends.
    • If you are looking for a specific work and you know the D number, simple type in the D number xxx, if you can't find it, then try Dxxx. Most tracks in this playlist are tagged with either format of the D number, except for the Wanderer Fantasy and very few others.
    For the Arpeggione Sonata, besides the popular cello transcription, I also included a recording on an early 19th century arpeggione and a 1824 Conrad Graf pianoforte from the Beethoven House in Bonn.

    I started this playlist in early 2010, until last week there was only one track in this playlist: D. 1, the 24 minutes fantasia for piano four-hand. It is Spotify's Austria launch that gave me the determination to fulfill this huge task. I hope this playlist can help you to enjoy this greatest native Viennese composer's gigantic output. (The current file of D. 1 has a transcoding problem and it's not streamable, though it still works in my place. I have informed Spotify and hopefully they will fix it soon).

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Franz Schubert: Complete Chronological Catalogue D. 1 - 998 (1605 tracks, total time: 113 hours) Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. See this page for over 700 songtexts set by Schubert, many of them with English translations. You can also download the 422-page Schubert songbook from Hyperion for free.

    I am not knowledgeable enough to choose the best recording for every work, but as you flip through this playlist, you probably would agree that, no single label can ever release such a thoroughly comprehensive Schubert box-set with such a great diversity of performers, not to mention the ability to locate and start to play any piece within seconds. My effort is nothing but some 10 hours of searching, and I am but an amateur music fan. What is evident here is the sheer power of Spotify, and its advantage over CD/digital downloads is even more evident than CD/MP3 over cassette/vinyl (as mass distribution medium, not just collectable items for analog/hi-fi fans only). Maybe its business model is not perfect yet, but there is no going back. I hope the music industry, especially the classical heads get ready for this soon. Why keep pondering which box-set (EMI, 50-CD, $78; Brilliant, 40-CD, $94) is a greater bargain? Get this 100-CD Spotify edition and start to listen now.

    Please leave a comment if you find something that I left out, thank you.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Guest Post: Classics Today 10/10 Albums

    Another guest post from Sam Callahan, who shared some brilliant trumpet playlists earlier this year. It is a collaborative playlist and anyone who are interested can help to update it. I already discovered a fine recording from this playlist and updated my Shostakovich playlist with Pacifica Quartet's recording of Quartet No.5. Thanks, Sam!


    For years, Classics Today has been my go-to source for classical album reviews because of its enormous breadth and excellent writing. The reviewers rate CDs daily using a dual-number system, the first for "artistic quality" and the second for "sound quality," meaning the top possible rating is a "10/10".

    This Spotify playlist is based on Classic Today's list of "Current 10/10 Reviews", which shows all reviews from the past month that received top honors. One track represents each each album on the list, sorted descending by review date. The playlist will be constantly updated to include new additions to the 10/10 list, but older CDs will still remain on the bottom of the playlist. Happy listening!

    Playlist: Classics Today: Current 10/10 Reviews

    Guest post by Sam Callahan

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Benjamin Britten: Complete Chronological Catalogue in One Spotify Playlist

    "It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony." - Benjamin Britten

    "Benjamin Britten wrote some of the most appealing classical music of the twentieth century. As a boy he began by setting favourite poems to be sung by family and friends. Later, his life partner, Peter Pears, was a singer who provided inspiration for almost four decades. So it is not surprising that Britten is best known for his music for the voice: choral works, songs and song cycles, and - above all - a series of operas among the most engaging ever written. His first success in this genre, Peter Grimes, revived opera in English. Britten was also a master of orchestral writing, as his two most familiar works, the Four Sea Interludes and Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, make clear. He was equally committed to writing music for children and amateur performers as he was for leading soloists of the day such as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. From the outset, Britten was the modern composer who did not want modern music to be just for 'the cultured few', and aimed always to be 'listenable-to'" - Britten-Pears Foundation

    About this playlist: First I put in all the works with opus number (Op. 1-96), which were published almost strictly in the order of completion. Then I added dozens of unnumbered works (see list below), including three unused songs from Les Illuminations, and placed them in their chronological position after Britten-Pears Foundation's Britten Thematic Catalogue, which "will have catalogued all manuscript sources for both the juvenilia and the mature works by Britten's centenary in 2013".
    Songs from the six volumes of folksong arrangements were composed on various dates, and I used the completion date of the last song from each volume as the reference, hence Vol. 6 is placed before Vol. 5.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Benjamin Britten: Complete Chronological Catalogue (1071 tracks, total time: 62 hours) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. It features many classic performeces by Britten & Pears, as well as other fine new recordings, like the War Requiem by Masur, the Canticles by Ian Bostridge, and Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo by Nicholas Phan. I used recordings that are available both on Spotify UK and USA when possible. See this page for text used in the vocal works.

    Happy 98th birthday.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Edward Elgar: Complete Works With Opus Number

    "For thirty years after his death in 1934, his music was considered to be 'out of fashion'. It was said to epitomise the Edwardian era and to have no relevance to a later age. I believe, however, that it is far too great to be tied to one short period of history and that, in any case, it is music of so personal a nature that it can be described accurately not as 'Edwardian' but only as 'Elgarian'." Michael Kennedy - 'Portrait of Elgar'

    "Those years had seen change accelerate as never before in human history. His response had been to seek the illumination of time remembered. For all those of his generation and the future who would feel the insight of retrospection, he had made of that evanescence his music." Jerrold Moore - 'Edward Elgar - A Creative Life'

    The playlist collects Edward Elgar's complete works with opus number, including the unfinished Pomp And Circumstance March No. 6 and Symphony No.3 (both completed by Anthony Payne), and a few songs without opus number: two teenage songs are placed at the beginning, The Wind at Dawn after Op. 7, and four more songs from Seven Lieder of Edward Elgar are included together Op. 16. The last track of the playlist is a unused fragment from the NMC recording of the complete sketches for the Third Symphony, exactly as the composer left them.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Edward Elgar: Complete Works with Opus Number (390 tracks, total time: 32 hours) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. See list of works here.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Richard Wagner: Complete Chronological Catalogue

    Richard Wagner was one of the most revolutionary figures in the history of music, a composer who made pivotal contributions to the development of harmony and musical drama that reverberate even today. Indeed, though Wagner occasionally produced successful music written on a relatively modest scale, opera -- the bigger, the better -- was clearly his milieu, and his aesthetic is perhaps the most grandiose that Western music has ever known. - AllMusic

    Works in this playlist (operas are in bold):
    (Only one track from WWV 62 the Donizetti arrangements is included)

    All operas are available on Spotify UK and USA in their entirety, except for Die Feen (no recording on Spotify USA). For the Ring cycle, I used four recordings for the four parts: three of them are from Bohm, Boulez and Barenboim's complete recording of the cycle, and for Die Walküre I used Furtwangler's only studio recording of the Ring.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Richard Wagner: Complete Chronological Catalogue (669 tracks, total time: 2 days) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Also check out these Wagner audiobooks on Spotify: Opera Explained: The Flying Dutchman from Naxos Educational, and Deryke Cooke's introduction (link 1, 2)  to the Ring.

    Update: added the Paris version of Tannhäuser (partially available on Spotify USA).

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Josquin des Prez: A Spotify Playlist

    Josquin des Prez (c. 1450 to 1455 –1521), often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was the most famous European composer between Guillaume Dufay and Palestrina, and is usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime. - Wikipedia

    Spotify launched in Belgium and Switzerland today, on this occasion I did a playlist for the greatest sixteenth century composer Josquin, who was (probably) born in Hainaut, Belgium. This playlist includes all the decent recordings of Josquin's works on Spotify, sorted by genres: masses, motets, chansons and instrumental compositions. Most recordings of the masses also have some motets or others works in it, and I kept the full albums. So this playlist starts with Josquin's most famous work Ave Maria ... virgo serena ("The whole 'perfected art' of sixteenth century sacred music, it sometimes seems, was formed on the example ofthis one supreme masterpieces - Richard Taruskin). At the end of the playlist there are two laments on Josquin's death by his contemporaries: Jheronimus Vinders's O mors inevitabilis and Nicolas Gombert's Musae Jovis, and two wonderful transcriptions  by Charles Wuorinen: Ave Christe for piano and Josquiniana for string quartet.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Josquin des Prez: Complete Works (322 tracks, total time: 21 hours) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Giacomo Puccini: Complete Operas and Other Works on Spotify

    Shostakovich: "What do you think of Puccini?'" Britten: "I think his operas are dreadful.'" Shostakovich: "No, Ben, you are wrong. He wrote marvellous operas but dreadful music!" - An overgrown joke.

    Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. Some of his arias, such as "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi, "Che gelida manina" from La bohème, and "Nessun dorma" from Turandot, have become part of popular culture. - Wikipedia

    This playlist collects Puccini's complete operas, sorted in chronological order, as well as small scale works for string quartet and orchestra, songs for voice and piano, and sacred music including Messa di Gloria. See list below for conductor/star cast/label info. Every opera is linked to Wikipedia, where you can find links for synopsis and libretto. For the most famous operas, I also put in a highlights album with different casts after the complete recording. La bohème is from the 11-CD Puccini Edition (Decca), Tosca is from the 17-CD Puccini: The Operas (EMI), and Suor Angelica is from the 15-CD Puccini: The Great Operas (Decca), so you can also find all these great collections in this playlist.
    1. Le Villi, José Cura, Nuova Era
    2. Edgar, Domingo, DG
    3. Manon Lescaut, Callas, EMI
    4. La bohème, Pavarotti, Decca
    5. Tosca, Levine, EMI
    6. Madama Butterfly, Barbirolli, EMI
    7. La fanciulla del West, Matačić, EMI
    8. La rondine, Pannano, EMI
    9. Il tabarro, Pannano, EMI
    10. Suor Angelica, Tebaldi, Decca
    11. Gianni Schicchi, Gobbi, EMI
    12. Turandot, Karajan, DG
    The 2nd part of the playlist consists of non-opera works and two albums of rarities: Chailly's Puccini Discoveries (including Luciano Berio's 2001 completion of Turandot), and Domingo's Puccini ritrovato (including original or alternative versions of famous arias).

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Giacomo Puccini: Complete Operas and Other Works (530 tracks, total time: 1 day) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. All operas are available on Spotify UK and USA in their entirety. You can also find four excellent introductory audiobooks for Puccini's operas on Spotify, from Naxos Educational.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Aaron Copland: Complete Chronological Catalogue

    "You compose because you want to somehow summarize in some permanent form your most basic feelings about being alive, to set down... some sort of permanent statement about the way it feels to live now, today." - Aaron Copland

    Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers". He is best known to the public for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 40s in a deliberately more accessible style than his earlier pieces, including the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Rodeo and his Fanfare for the Common Man. The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are archetypical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. However, he wrote music in different styles at different periods of his life: his early works incorporated jazz or avant-garde elements whereas his later music incorporated serial techniques. - Wikipedia

    This playlist collects the complete compositions of Copland, sorted in chronological order after this list. The first track is a conversation from 30 years ago today, on Copland's 81st birthday, in which the composer talked about how did he find the name Appalachian Spring (or really the other way around). Both the original version and suites of the ballets are included (the original Appalachian Spring for 13 instruments is a must hear). I used lots of recordings conducted by Copland himself but also digested many other fine performances. The Clarinet Concerto is played by Benny Goodman, and the Piano Concerto features Leonard Bernstein on the bench.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Aaron Copland: Complete Chronological Catalogue (279 tracks, total time: 21 hours) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view.  Seven tracks are currently not available on Spotify USA, including, unfortunately, a 17 minutes Copland Rehearses Appalachian Spring at the end of the playlist. Find more about this great composer on Keeping Score: In Search Of An American Sound, and The Aaron Copland Collection on LoC. Also give the recently unearthed original version of Quiet City a listen on NPR, hope it will be on Spotify soon. Lastly, I recommend Copland's book What To Listen For In Music to everyone who ever wondered about that question.

    Happy 111th birthday.

    Question: How to Add Multilevel Drop Down Menu in Blogger?

    As the number of playlists on this blog keeps growing, a navigation function is becoming more and more in need. I managed to add a single level menu, but after hours of googling and experimenting, I couldn't make a multilevel menu work properly. I don't know if the tutorial I used (1, 2) are outdated, or incompatible with my template.

    If you know how these things work, would you please give me a few tips on how to add multilevel drop down menu to my Blogger template, or point me to a reliable tutorial? I hope to create the menu with pure CSS so the visitors don't have to load Java scripts from 3rd party sites. If you can help, please leave a comment or email me. Thank you.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Complete Works

    "To regret the past, to hope in the future, and never to be satisfied with the present: that is what I spend my whole life doing."  - Tchaikovsky's letter to his younger brother Anatolii, 1878.

    "I am made up of contradictions, and I have reached a very mature age without resting upon anything positive, without having calmed my restless spirit either by religion or philosophy. Undoubtedly I should have gone mad but for music. Music is indeed the most beautiful of all Heaven's gifts to humanity wandering in the darkness. Alone it calms, enlightens, and stills our souls. It is not the straw to which the drowning man clings; but a true friend, refuge, and comforter, for whose sake life is worth living"  - Letter to Nadezhda von Meck, 1877

    Tchaikovsky is among the very few composers who can write music that sounds sweet, bombastic, and soul-cleansing at the same time. Schoenberg and Stockhausen lack the sweetness. Mahler comes close, but to me, his fascination with metaphysical motifs sometimes makes his music less consistent and direct than Tchaikovsky, whose works are always filled with emotions rooted in personal relationships, and driven by such longing to "express something fully" (what Tchaikovsky thought Brahms failed to deliver). In my early 20s I loved Mahler zealously and thought Tchaikovsky was for the fainthearted. As I grow older I still adore Mahler, but also start to find more strength in Tchaikovsky.

    This playlists collects Tchaikovsky's Op.1-80, with notable (i.e. findable on Spotify) works without opus number, the latter includes a student work for flute and strings, an early string quartet, Overture in F, Coronation March, two versions of the Romeo and Juliet Overture, operas: The Oprichnik, The Maid of Orleans, Mazepa, and The Enchantress. All suites from the ballets are also included. Unnumbered works are inserted to their approximate chronological positions, but Op. 1-80 were not published in the order of completion, so this playlist is not strictly chronological. Unauthentic works like Symphony No.7 or Leopold Auer's version of the Violin Concerto are not included, except for Kreisler's 1904 recording of his arrangement of Souvenir de Hapsal.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky: Complete Works (736 tracks, total time: 2 days) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Only a handful of tracks are not available on Spotify USA. You can hear Bernstein discuss Pathétique from his Music Lectures, and find out more about the Life And Works of Tchaikovsky from Naxos Educational.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Antonín Dvořák: Complete Chronological Catalogue

    "Perhaps to have composed the Stabat Mater, is rather better, after all, than to understand Latin."  Antonín Dvořák reflects on his stay in Cambridge, where he received an honorary Doctoral degree.

    Among composers not specialized in opera, Dvorak is perhaps the finest tunesmith since Schubert. If I were a pop songwriter and found myself in a uninspired mood, I would put on this playlist on shuffle and copy all the catchy themes crowded in even the least known works. I'd have to write so fast that couldn't even find a moment to stop and wonder how did this man turn his head into a fountain of ravishing melodies.

    Dvorak's pieces were not published in the order he wrote them, and his publisher gave his works opus numbers corresponding to publishing date. This playlist was compiled after an authoritative chronological catalog of his œuvre, sorted by Burghauser number. The only addition is an arrangement of the A major Piano Quintet recorded by Windscape and Jeremy Denk. All tracks except for a few early works are available on Spotify USA.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Antonín Dvořák: Complete Chronological Catalogue (680 tracks, total time: 2 days) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Also check out the excellent Naxos Educational audiobooks, Life And Works: Dvorak and Classisc Explained: New World Symphony.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Dmitri Shostakovich: Complete Chronological Catalogue

    "Why is Dmitri Shostakovich the worst composer of the XXth century? Because he is the worst imitator of the twentieth century, imitator of Prokofiev and of Mahler and of Satie and of whoever else's scores he'd lay his paws on; and because his imitations are of poor quality, coarse, vulgar, thick, unimaginative, repetitive and narrow-minded: an artificious world he fabricated, imitated of the nineteenth century, in the image of the artificious society constructed by the Bolshevists."

    "You have successfully described John Williams!!!" - Best DSCH joke.

    "I think that it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in [Mussorgsky's] Boris Godunov. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, 'Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,' and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, 'Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.' What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that." - Testimony

    This playlists collects Shostakovich's Op. 1-147, sorted by number, as well as important works without opus number, inserted to their approximate chronological positions. The latter includes: Jazz Suite No. 1, Suite for Variety Orchestra, Anti-Formalist Rayok, and some early pieces for piano and string quartet. All chamber symphonies arranged from the string quartets are also included.

    Under the premise of only using recordings that are available on both Spotify UK and USA, my choices were limited, nevertheless I managed to sort out a list of great Shostakovich recordings: Haitink's 4th on CSO Resound, Bernstein's 5th with NYPO (helter-skelter tempo), Previn's 8th with LSO, Rostropovich's 14th with his wife Galina Vishnevskaya as the soprano, and Ormandy's 15th with The Philadelphia Orchestra. For the string quartets (press Ctrl/CMD+F and input string quartet to browse), I put in more than 10 different ensembles, including Beethoven Quartet who premiered most of these quartets. Vengerov's recording of Violin Concerto No.1 is not on Spotify USA, so I "settled" for David Oistrakh.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Dmitri Shostakovich: Complete Chronological Catalogue (873 tracks, total time: 2 days) Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. See list of works here. For beginners, check out this Naxos compilation first: Shostakovich - A Portrait. In the Composer As Pianist playlist you can find more recording of this "honorable mention" winner at the 1st Chopin Competition.

    By the way: 1, the French composers series is not over, I just feel like taking a break. 2, New Google+ page for this blog.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Gabriel Fauré: Complete Works on Spotify

    "It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. The music of Gounod has been criticized for its overinclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist's nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different." Gabriel Fauré on his Requiem.

    Faure with wife, playing a reconstructed Babylonian harp, March 1883
    Copland called Fauré "the Brahms of France", but personally I prefer Fauré. His music, especially the late chamber works since the cello sonatas, written when he was almost completely deaf, often maintains a subtle balance between form and expression, and rarely suffers from sudden outbursts of excessive romantic sensibilities underneath the solemn surface (like those light-your-lighter moments in Brhams).

    This playlist collects Fauré's Opus 1-121 (sorted by numbers), plus Messe basse and opera Pénélope (inserted to their approximate chronological positions). It also includes both the 1893 version (Accentus, Naive) and full orchestral version (The Sixteen, Coro) of the Requiem; two versions of the great song cycle La bonne chanson (with/without string quintet); piano and orchestraal versions of Op.19 Ballade and Dolly suite; Masques et bergamasque as orchestral suite and eight-movement suite with tenor and choir; and, choral/orchestral versions of the popular Pavane.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Gabriel Fauré: Complete Works (304 tracks, total time: 21 hours) All tracks are available on Spotify USA. Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. See list of works here.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Jean-Baptiste Lully: Thematic Catalogue on Spotify

    "Authority is what French music was all about, and Lully's operas above all. They were the courtiest court operas that ever were." - Richard Taruskin, Oxford History of Western Music

    Jean-Baptiste de Lully (1632–1687) was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of the Sun King. He was the principal architect of what became known as the French Baroque style. His music is known for its power, liveliness in its fast movements and its deep emotional character in its sad movements. Lully might be one of the very few musicians that literally died from their craft: at 55 he accidentally stabbed his own foot with the long conducting stick he used to beat time and died from an infection.

    Lully and the librettist Philippe Quinault
    List of recordings in this playlist: Part 1, Introductions to Lully, orchestral suites, ballets and instrumental music (linked to reviews):

    William Christie – Lully: Great Operatic Scenes
    Chorégraphie: Music for Louis XIV's dancing masters
    Les musiques de Louis XIV Vol.2: Du ballet à l'opéra
    Mary Enid Haines – Lully: Ballet Music For The Sun King, booklet
    Raymond Leppard & ECO– Lully: Pièces de symphonie
    Jordi Savall – Lully: L'Orchestre Du Roi Soleil
    Chicago Baroque Ensemble – The World Of Lully
    Capriccio Stravagante – Lully: Divertissements
    Fabio Bonizzoni – Lully: Ballets & Recits Italiens
    The London Oboe Band – Ballet And Theater Music For Oboe Band

    Part 2, Opera/Stage Works

    Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670); Les Fêtes De L'Amour Et De Bacchus (1672); Thésée (1675) reviews; Psyché (1678) reviews; Bellérophon (1679) reviews; Proserpine (1680) reviews 1, 2; Le triomphe de l'amour (1681); Phaëton (1683) review; Amadis (1684) review; Roland (1685) reviews 1, 2, 3; Armide (1686) reviews; Acis et Galatée (1686) reviews

    Part 3, Sacred Music (linked to reviews)

    Le Concert Spirituel – Lully: Grand Motets, Vol. 1,Vol. 2, Vol. 3
    Jean-François Paillard– Lully : Te Deum & Dies Irae

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Jean-Baptiste Lully: Thematic Catalogue (1027 tracks, total time: 1 day) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Two piano transcriptions from Leopold Godowsky bookends this playlist.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    François Couperin: Thematic Catalogue on Spotify

    From Wikipedia: François Couperin (1668 –1733) was a French Baroque composer, organist and harpsichordist. He was known as Couperin le Grand ("Couperin the Great") to distinguish him from other members of the musically talented Couperin family.

    This playlist includes his complete works for harpsichord, organ, chamber music, sacred and secular vocal compositions, sorted by genre. See list of works here. I used Olivier Baumont's Erato recording of the complete harpsichord works, and Complete Chamber Music on Brilliant, as the draft of the playlist, then I replaced individual works with other excellent recordings that I could find on Spotify. Therefore, this playlist offers plenty of choices, and it's easier to tell different installments from each other when browsing in Album View.  After the vocal works, I also put three track from other members of the Couperin family at the end of the playlist. One from Armand-Louis Couperin, two pieces by Louis Couperin: an allemande played on a harpsichord built in 1658; Pavanne in F-Sharp from Richard Egarr's new complete set of L.Couperin's harpsichord works.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: François Couperin: Thematic Catalogue (655 tracks, total time: 1 day) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Jean-Philippe Rameau: Thematic Catalogue

    "Before Rameau (1683–1764) there was instrumentation; after Rameau, there was orchestration." - An Amazon reviewer.

    Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. This playlist is sorted by music genres, after Rameau Catalogue Thématique established by Sylvie Bouissou and Denis Herlin. It includes all the harpsichord works (over a dozen different recordings), cantatas, operas (unfortunately, many recordings are not available on Spotify USA) and suites that I found on Spotify. I also put Marc Minkowski's Symphonie imaginaire at the beginning of the playlist (a great introduction for classical fans who are not familiar with Rameau or French opera) and a recording of Rameau organ transcriptions at the end.

    Here's the Spotify playlist: Rameau Catalogue Thématique (734 tracks, total time: 1 day) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Leopold Godowsky's Rameau arrangements can be found in my previous Piano Transcriptions playlist.