Saturday, June 30, 2012

Klavier Wind Recording Project on Spotify

"Since its inception in 1989, the Klavier Wind Recording Project, under the creative direction of Eugene Migliaro Corporon. has been praised worldwide by composers, conductors, critics and listeners for its innovation, excellence and professional standards. These state-of-the-art digital recordings have indentified and preserved the standard repertoire and encouraged composers around the world to contribute to the ever-growing legacy of quality literature by making their new works immediately available to thousands of listening enthusiasts. The series highlights the fact that wind symphony, in its many forms thoughout hundreds of years of music history, has been and continues to be a significant original medium for serious artistic expression. In the last 18 years the project has yielded 34 recordings which feature the creative work of hundreds of world renowned composers." - Official site

8th New York State Militia Band, in Arlington, Virginia, 1861. Source

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Klavier Wind Recording Project (Concert Band Music) (437 tracks, total time: 41 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. It features all 34 recordings in this series, sorted by release date, with the latest albums at the top. Look up the official site for more information about each recording.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leonard Bernstein the Composer: Complete Chronological Catalogue on Spotify

"As composer, conductor, and educator, Leonard Bernstein emerged as one of a handful of figures in the twentieth century who truly changed the face of music. As a composer, Bernstein left a far-reaching legacy that includes three symphonies, a film score of singular distinction, (On the Waterfront), and an important body of stage works, including one of the cornerstones of American musical theater, West Side Story. The first American-born conductor to attain international superstardom, Bernstein made a profound impression on audiences; his podium manner was dynamic, even flamboyant, to an extent never before witnessed. Bernstein's extroverted manner attracted much criticism from those who dismissed him as a mere exhibitionist; his advocates, however, far outnumbered his detractors." - AllMusic

Works in this playlist, with links to program notes:
  • Psalm 148, for voice & piano, 1935 
  • Music for Two Pianos, 1937
  • Piano Trio, 1937
  • Piano Sonata, 1938
  • Sonata for violin & piano, 1940
  • Sonata for clarinet & piano, 1942
  • Symphony No.1 ("Jeremiah"), for mezzo-soprano & orchestra, 1942
  • 7 Anniversaries, for piano, 1943
  • I Hate Music, cycle of "5 kid songs" for soprano & piano, 1943
  • Dream With Me, song for voice & piano with obbligato cello, 1944
  • Fancy Free, ballet, 1944
  • New York, New York, song for voice & piano (from "On the Town"), 1944
  • Some Other Time, song (from "On the Town"), 1944
  • On the Town, musical, 1944
  • 3 Dance Episodes from "On the Town", for orchestra, 1945
  • Hashkiveinu, for tenor, chorus & organ, 1945
  • Lonely Me, song for voice & piano (originally written for "On the Town"), 1945
  • Facsimile, ballet, 1946
  • La Bonne Cuisine: 4 recipes, for voice & piano, 1947
  • Rinah, Hebrew folksong arranged for chorus & orchestra, 1947
  • Simchu Na, for chorus & piano, 1947
  • 4 Anniversaries, for piano, 1948
  • Brass Music, pieces (5) for piano, trumpet, horn, trombone & tuba, 1948
  • 5 Anniversaries, for piano, 1949
  • Prelude, Fugue & Riffs, for clarinet & jazz ensemble, 1949
  • Symphony No. 2 ("The Age of Anxiety"), for piano & orchestra or 2 pianos, 1949
  • Peter Pan, musical, 1950
  • Yigdal, Hebrew liturgical melody for chorus & piano, 1950
  • Silhouette (Galilee), song for voice & piano, 1950
  • Trouble in Tahiti, opera in 1 act, 1951
  • It's Love, song (from "Wonderful Town"), 1953
  • Wonderful Town, musical in 2 acts, 1953
  • Serenade (after Plato: Symposium), for violin, harp, percussion & strings; also for violin & piano, 1954
  • Candide, operetta in 2 acts, 1955
  • On the Waterfront, symphonic suite, 1955
  • Sabras (4), for piano, 1955
  • The Lark, incidental music for countertenor, chorus & percussion, 1955
  • Glitter and Be Gay, for soprano & orchestra (from "Candide"), 1956
  • Make Our Garden Grow, song for voice & orchestra or piano (from "Candide"), 1956
  • Overture to Candide, for orchestra, 1956
  • West Side Story, musical, 1957
  • I Feel Pretty, song (from "West Side Story"), 1957
  • Maria, song (from "West Side Story"), 1957
  • Somewhere, song (from "West Side Story"), 1957
  • Tonight, song (from "West Side Story"), 1957
  • The Firstborn, incidental music for voice & chorus, 1958
  • Bridal Suite, for 2 pianos, 1960
  • Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story", 1961
  • Fanfare for the inauguration of J. F. Kennedy, for brass ensemble, 1961
  • Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish"), for soprano, speakers, choruses & orchestra, 1963
  • Chichester Psalms, for boy soloist, chorus & orchestra, 1965
  • So Pretty, song for voice & piano, 1968
  • A Simple Song, for voice & piano, 1971
  • Mass, theatre piece for singers, players & dancers, 1971
  • Meditations (2) from "Mass", for orchestra, 1971
  • Dybbuk, ballet, 1974 
  • Dybbuk, Suite No.1, for tenor, bass & orchestra, 1974 
  • Dybbuk, Suite No.2 (Eight Dances), for orchestra, 1974
  • 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, musical, 1976
  • A White House Cantata, for soloists, chorus & orchestra, 1976
  • Candide, suite from the operetta in 2 parts for voices, chorus & orchestra, 1977
  • 3 Meditations from "Mass", for cello & orchestra; also for cello & piano, 1977
  • Slava! A Political Overture, for orchestra, 1977
  • Songfest, song cycle for 6 singers & orchestra or piano, 1977
  • Piccola Serenata, vocalise for voice & piano, 1979
  • A Musical Toast, for orchestra, 1980
  • Divertimento, for orchestra, 1980
  • Halil, nocturne for flute solo, piccolo, alto flute, percussion & harp; also for flute, piano & percussion, 1981
  • Olympic Hymn, for chorus & orchestra, 1981
  • Touches (Chorale, 8 Variations & Coda), competition test piece for piano, 1981
  • A Quiet Place, opera, 1984
  • Concerto for Orchestra (Jubilee Games), for orchestra, 1986
  • 13 Anniversaries, for piano, 1988
  • Arias & Barcarolles, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, strings & percussion (or piano duet), 1988
  • Missa Brevis, for alto, chorus & percussion (or 7 violins & percussion), 1988
  • Dance Suite, for brass quintet & optional percussion, 1989
  • Vayomer Elohim (Let There Be Light), for voice & piano, 1989
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Leonard Bernstein the Composer: Complete Chronological Catalogue (485 tracks, total time: 27 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. For Bernstein's music lectures, see this playlist. Photo by George Zimbel.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

György Ligeti: Complete Chronological Catalogue & Études Mix

"György Ligeti was one of the most important avant-garde composers in the latter half of the twentieth century. He stood with Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen, and Cage as one of the most innovative and influential among progressive figures of his time. His early works show the influence of Bartók and Kodály, and like them, he studied folk music and made transcriptions from folk material. In Apparitions (1958-1959) and Atmosphères (1961), he developed a style forged from chromatic cluster chords that are devoid of conventional melody, pitch and rhythm, but instead grow into timbres and textures that yield new sonic possibilities. The composer referred to this method as "micropolyphony." In Aventures (1962), Ligeti devised a vocal technique in which the singers are required to make a full range of vocalizations, cries and nonsense noises to fashion a kind of imaginary, non-specific drama, but with rather specifically expressed emotions. Ligeti was almost alone among progressive composers from the latter twentieth century who have written popular and widely performed music." AllMusic

This chronological playlist was compiled after the lists of works on Wikipedia, Schott Music, and It features recordings from the Ligeti Edition (Sony), Ligeti Project (Teldec) and dozens more albums. At the end,I added another set of the 18 Études from 18 different albums, including notable new releases from Yuja Wang, Jeremy Denk, and Pour Irina played by its dedicatee Irina Kataeva.

Get this collection in one the Spotify playlist: György Ligeti: Complete Chronological Catalogue & Études Mix (299 tracks, total time: 16 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. For Ligeti's music used in Kubrick's films, see this previous playlist.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Robert Fripp: Collaborations & Guest Appearances

I used to be a big fan of King Crimson, and collected over 50 DGM CDs (by the way I am 28). I still regard Robert Fripp as a formidable guitarist; his attempt to fight unlicensed services like Grooveshark has my utmost support, but his dogmatic attitude towards digital music finally made me give up listening to King Crimson regularly.

What are successful artists doing nowadays? Beastie Boys gave 50 cameras to fans before a concert, asked them to shoot the gig in different angles and made a feature film. Grateful Dead had a long history of helping bootleggers to tape their concerts, and guess what? When they released a giant 73-CD, $450 box-set of the Europe '72 tour last year, the initial 7200 copies of the limited edition were sold out in four days, and made the Dead $3.24 million. I wonder if the annual revenue of DGM exceeds that figure.

I have no intention to embarrass Mr. Fripp as a businessman. It is his music and his call. But as a fan, I can't help but feel sorry for King Crimson, because the decision of not having their music available on iTunes, Amazon MP3 or any digital service including Spotify is damaging their own legacy. Kids today couldn't care less about your too-precious-to-be-digitized music.

I compiled a playlist for recordings that Fripp played guitar on, or contributed Soundscapes. Including David Bowie's Heroes, Brian Eno's St. Elmo's Fire, Future Sound of London's Flak, various projects with King Crimson alumni (Trey Gunn, Tony Levin, Adrian Belew & John Wetton) and many more.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Robert Fripp: Collaborations & Guest Appearances (75 tracks from 75 albums) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Complete discography here. I noticed that when Europa String Choir's album The Starving Moon, originally a DGM release, was re-licensed to other labels and became available on Spotify, the sole track Fripp played on (ironically, it's titled The Saving Grace) was deleted. I admire Mr. Fripp's determination, and sincerely hope he leaves Bowie and Eno alone.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Henryk Górecki: Chronological Collection

When the Zinman/Upshaw recording of Polish composer Henryk Górecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs was released in 1992, it reached No. 6 of the UK album chart; stayed at the top of Billboard classical chart for 38 weeks; and sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Sorrowfully, this success has failed to generate interest in Górecki's other works.

Personally I adore that symphony, and also found many of his other works absorbing: Amen, Beatus Vir, and Totus Tuus are all music of sweeping power and beauty; late works like Kleines Requiem for a Polka and the three String Quartets (No.1, 2, 3) are also fresh and distinctive.

This playlist features all Górecki's recorded works available; sorted in chronological order. From op. 1 (1955) to op. 75 (1999), plus one unnumbered piece Three Dances in Old Style (1963). For Symphony No.3 I used the Zinman recording. The composer's own favorite: Wlodzimierz Kamirski conducting the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin with soprano Stefania Woytowicz, is hard to find in the west and not on Spotify, though another recording featuring the soprano, and the conductor who premiered the symphony with her, is on Spotify US.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Henryk Górecki: Chronological Collection (83 tracks from 23 albums, total time: 10 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

In another playlist Pop Songs Based On Classical Works, you can find Lamb's 1997 single Górecki, a minor trip-hop classic which quoted the 2nd movement of the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eric Whitacre: Complete Recordings on Spotify

"Whitacre is that rare thing, a modern composer who is both popular and original." - The Daily Telegraph, London

""What hits you straight between the eyes is the honesty, optimism and sheer belief that passes any pretension. This is music that can actually make you smile." - Radio 3 review.

Eric Whitacre (born 1970) is an American composer best known for his choral music. He has also written a large number of wind band compositions and some electronic music. In addition, he has composed works for orchestra and an opera, Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings. His style is quite approachable and features trademark chords (sevenths and ninths, sometimes heard against a background of sustained seconds and fourths), unexpected chord progressions, aleatoric elements, finger snapping by choral singers, and a host of other typically recognizable characteristics. His soundworld, though modern and quite individual, is invested with certain elements out of the past, however: his orchestral version of Water Night, originally written for chorus, carries echoes of Barber's famous Adagio for Strings, and some have compared Whitacre's style to that of Morten Lauridsen. That said, Whitacre is among the most original American voices of his time. His music is widely performed, especially in the U.S., and recordings of his music, particularly his choral works, are available on Hyperion, Clarion, Albany, and many other labels. - AllMusic

I became a Whitacre addict after listening to Water Night on Spotify - I wish the city I live in had a decent choir that got me into his music earlier, but better late than never. Anyway I did a thorough search on Spotify and found more than 80 albums with his music, including 13 recordings of Cloudburst (choral and wind band versions) and no less than 15 Water Night. Arvo Pärt fans who don't know Whitacre yet, please do yourself a favor and give him a listen.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Eric Whitacre: Complete Recordings on Spotify (222 tracks, total time: 18 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Ctrl (CMD) + F to bring out the filter bar and look for the works. For example: type in Cloudburst and browse all 13 recordings. Looking forward to more new recordings and new works.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Frank Zappa as Composer

"Composer, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Frank Zappa was a singular musical figure during a performing and recording career that lasted from the 1960s to the '90s. His disparate influences included doo wop music and avant-garde classical music; although he led groups that could be called rock & roll bands for much of his career, he used them to create a hybrid style that bordered on jazz and complicated, modern serious music, sometimes inducing orchestras to play along." - AllMusic

This playlist is a collection of Zappa's music played by various orchestras and ensembles. Including:
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Frank Zappa as Composer (93 tracks, total time: 6 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Thank these performers for keeping Zappa's music alive, while The Zappa Family Trust is doing their best to make sure kids today can't hear his original recordings (no Amazon MP3, no iTunes, no streaming). The man himself came up with an idea for music subscription in 1983.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Chronological Collection on Spotify

Mieczysław Weinberg (1919 - 1996) was a Soviet composer of Polish-Jewish origin. From 1939 he lived in the Soviet Union and Russia and lost most of his family in the Holocaust. He left a large body of work that included 22 symphonies and 17 string quartets; according to one reviewer he ranked as, "the third great Soviet composer, along with Prokofiev and Shostakovich". - Wikipedia

I discovered Weinberg through Alex Ross's tweet last year, and was astonished by what I heard, even before I found out how prolific this composer was. If you like Schnittke, Szymanowski, Lutosławski or the two aforementioned Soviet masters, you definitely should give Weinberg a try. His works are still not often recorded, so I put aside the one-work-one-recording rule and arranged all recordings available by opus number; two early works written before opus 1 were placed at the beginning.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Chronological Collection (405 tracks, total time: 37 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. See complete list of works here. Use Alex Ross's 30-track, 4-hour playlist as an intro. Also recommend: Weinberg's Holocaust opera The Passenger, available on Blue-ray.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frédéric Chopin: Complete Works, 100 Pianists

In this playlist, you get the complete works of Frédéric Chopin recorded by 100 pianists. Most are outstanding performances from the stereo era, including such great Chopin interpreters as Martha Argerich, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Jorge Bolet, Shura Cherkassky, Nelson Freire, Andrei Gavrilov, Vladimir Horowitz, Evgeny Kissin, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Murray Perahia, Maurizio Pollini, Arthur Rubinstein, Mitsuko Uchida, Earl Wild, Krystian Zimerman, and many more. I also put in a few important historical recordings by Alfred Cortot, Dinu Lipatti and Samson Francois. All winners of the International Chopin Piano Competition are included, except Yakov Zak and the 2010 winner Yulianna Avdeeva.

This playlist can be used as an index of great pianists on Spotify. I only selected from recordings that are available on both Spotify UK and US, so William Kapell's recording of the Mazurkas (Spotify UK only) is not included. As for Lang Lang, personally I dislike almost every recording he made, except for the Chopin concertos (no.2 is featured here).

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Frédéric Chopin: Complete Works by 100 Pianists (268 tracks, total time: 19 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Works are sorted by opus number and year of publication, as listed here. Do not play from the start, the op.1 rondo composed by a teenage Chopin is not much of a good opening track. Put this playlist on shuffle for Radio Chopin, or use Ctrl (CMD) + F to search for Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Preludes etc. Also check out the 4-hour audiobook Life & Works of Chopin in Naxos Educational.

A list of pianists in this playlist, with Spotify links.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Maximum Clarity: Ben Johnston On Spotify

Ben Johnston (born 1926) is a composer of contemporary music in just intonation, and one of the foremost composers of microtonal music. He was called "one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer" in 1990 by American critic John Rockwell.

Ben Johnston is best known for extending Harry Partch's experiments in just intonation tuning to traditional instruments through his system of notation. Johnston's compositional style is eclectic, employing serial processes, folksong idioms (String Quartets 4, 5 and 10), repetitive processes, traditional forms like fugue and variations, and intuitive processes. However, his main goal, "has been to reestablish just intonation as a viable part of our musical tradition" and "ultimately, what Johnston has done, more than any other composer with roots in the great American musical experiments of the '50's and '60's, is to translate those radical approaches to the nature of music into a music that is immediately apprehensive" - Wikipeida

Works in this playlist:
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Ben Johnston: Complete Recordings on Spotify (50 tracks, total time: 3 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Started this playlist in 2010, and finally the string quartets became available on Spoitfy now. Do give it a listen if you never went beyond Shostakovich, Schnittke or the great Villa-Lobos in 20th century string quartets.

Monday, June 11, 2012

133 Recordings Produced by Rick Rubin on Spotify

The co-founder of the legendary Def Jam label, producer Rick Rubin was one of the key figures behind the commercial and artistic rise of hip-hop, and the mastermind behind the revival (some might say artistic redemption too) of Johnny Cash. He raised more than a few eyebrows producing Slayer in 1986 but now everybody knows he is going to produce the next new album for Metallica, and Black Sabbath. He produced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's final studio recordings. Dr. Dre called him "hands down, the dopest producer ever that anyone would ever want to be, ever." MTV called him "the most important producer of the last 20 years." Last year he produced Adele's 21.

In 2007, Rubin was listed among Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

This one-track-per-album, chronological playlist can be used as an index of the Rick Rubin production discography. Some albums were partially produced by Rubin, like the lovely Pork And Beans from Weezer's Red Album was produced by Jacknife Lee, so I used another Rubin-produced track from that record. In some albums that I am familiar with, I also tried to select tracks that were significantly influenced by Rubin, thus Give It Away was chosen (an overall "dryer" guitar sound attributed to producer) instead of Under The Bridge, though the later song might never see the light of day if not for Rubin.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Rick Rubin Production Chronological Discography (133 tracks from 133 albums) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view (most useful feature for a playlist like this). See this Wikipedia page for more information about every album included.

Friday, June 8, 2012

30 Jennifer Higdon Recordings on Spotify

Jennifer Higdon (born 1962) is not only one of the most acclaimed of contemporary women composers, but one of the most widely performed and appreciated of contemporary American composers in general. She has won, among many other awards, the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto ("deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity") and the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Percussion Concerto.

Spotify's Jennifer Higdon page lists 7 albums; searching for the composer's name gets you a dozen; in this playlist you can find 30 (time to fix the metadata, no?). I fully recommend her music to classical fans who think that classical music died with Mahler, Puccini or Shostakovich. Start with aforementioned works and the Concerto For Orchestra; then try: Blue Cathedral, City Scape, and the Piano Trio.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Jennifer Higdon: Complete Recordings on Spotify (82 tracks from 30 albums, total time: 9 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. See the composer's official site for a a noted discography.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rehearsals: The Birth of a Performance

Recordings of rehearsals offer a unique opportunity to look at the classical warhorses in a new way. Highlights in this playlist include:
  • Britten rehearsals his War Requiem; 
  • Bruno Walter rehearsals Mozart's Linz Symphony (a 2-hour recording), Beethoven's 5th and Mahler's 9th; 
  • Mariss Jansons rehearsals Shostakovich's 8th; 
  • Boult rehearsals Vaughan Williams's The Pilgrim's Progress;  
  • Celibidache rehearsals Bruckner's 9th;
  • Karajan rehearsals Mozart's 40th & 41st, and Beethoven's 9th.
  • Maria Callas in rehearsal, in Dallas, 1957
  • Toscanini rehearsals Verdi and Wagner.
  • Furtwängler rehearsals Beethoven and Ravel.
  • Gershwin conducts the studio orchestra and plays the solo piano part in a rehearsal performance of his Second Rhapsody, recorded one month after the work's completion.
Get this playlist in one Spotify collection here: Rehearsals: The Birth of a Performance (183 tracks, total time: 22 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Flea on Bass: Guest Appearances

Just one of my occasional forays into pop music, enjoy.

Flea, originally a jazz trumpet prodigy, is best know as the bassist and co-founding member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Due to his musical versatility, he has also become a much in-demand session musician, appearing on over 40 albums. This playlist is a collection of his guest appearances, covering a great range of styles, from his 1995 collaboration with Robert Fripp and Cheikha Remitti, the Queen of Raï, to the brand new album he made with Damon Albarn (Rocket Juice & The Moon). Full track list:
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Flea Outside RHCP: Guest Appearances (40 tracks, 3 hours of groove) In some of the albums, he played on more tracks than I selected here, and on a few track he played the trumpet or horn. Click the album titles above for more info.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Family Album: 53 Musical Bachs on Spotify

The Bach family was of importance in the history of music for nearly two hundred years, with over 50 known musicians and several notable composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) and 4 of his 11 sons: W.F. Bach, C. P. E. Bach, J. C. F. Bach and J. C. Bach (if you find that confusing, just think of this: four of J.S. Bach's brothers had the same first name Johann; the other? Johannes).

Morning prayers in the family of Sebastian Bach

Every album in this playlist features works of various musical Bachs in one disk, except the four Carus albums at the beginning, which are dedicated to the four famous sons of J.S. Bach respectively. Total disk numbers are over 30, some highlights are:

Sacred Music Of The Bach Family (Hänssler): 12 Bachs
Organ Works Of The Bach Family (Hänssler): 10 Bachs
3 volumes of Bachiana by Musica Antiqua Köln (DG/Archiv)
Bach Dynasty by Les Talens Lyriques (Naive)
Family Matters by Musica Novantica Vienna (Gramola)
The Father, the Son & the Godfather (BIS), Telemann was the Godfather and namesake of C. P. E. Bach; this album and Isaac Stern's Trio Sonatas of The Bach Family and Telemann (Sony) also feature his works.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: The Bach Family Albums (521 tracks, total time: 42 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view (yes you really should do that for this playlist clustered with Bachs). See this page for a detail family history and more.