Monday, July 30, 2012

David Maslanka: Reverse Chronological Collection

"Honestly I think some of the most brilliant pieces I've ever heard are written for wind band. Maslanka's Symphony No. 4 is my favorite alongside Mahler's 2nd." - a comment on Reddit Classical

Thanks to that intriguing remark, I listened to the Maslanka 4th on Spotify, three times in a row. It's such a revelation, like hearing House of the Rising Sun, or the Bruckner 8th for the first time. I want to explore more of this composer and share this great discovery, so I compiled this reverse chronological playlist, including 8 recordings of the majestic symphony.

Works in this playlist, with links to program notes:
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: David Maslanka: Reverse Chronological Collection (318 tracks, total time: 42 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Last Prodigy: Complete Chronological Korngold on Spotify

"Erich Wolfgang Korngold's career bridged astonishing gaps in history and music - from the final years of Imperial Austria, when he was hailed as 'a new Mozart', to Hollywood in the heyday of the studio system, to the darkened era of postwar Europe. In Vienna of the 1920s, his name evoked the best that engagingly melodic, tonal music had to offer in the concert hall or the opera house; in Hollywood he was synonymous with the swashbucklers of Errol Flynn. He was encouraged by Gustav Mahler to pursue his musical studies, and his teachers included Alexander Von Zemlinsky."  -  AllMusic

"While his compositional style was considered well out of vogue at the time he died, his music has more recently undergone a reevaluation and a gradual reawakening of interest. Along with such composers as Max Steiner and Alfred Newman, he is considered one of the founders of film music." - Wikipedia

This playlist is a chronological collection of Korngold's compositions, from Der Schneemann, premiered at the Vienna Court Opera when the composer was 12-year-old, to his last original work, the Theme and Variations for school orchestra. Film scores are also included.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Complete Chronological Catalogue (505 tracks, total time: 34 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aphex Twin: Complete Discography on Spotify (Including EPs, Remixes, Collabrations & Covers)

42 tracks selected from 42 releases. Including:
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Aphex Twin: Complete Discography (Including EPs, Remixes, Collabrations & Covers) (42 tracks from 42 albums). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Northern Flowers: Wartime Music Series

The Wartime Music series produced by Russian label Northern Flowers offers an excellent sampler of music composed by Soviet composers during the WWII. The variety of the music is startling, and the fact that Gliere wrote the warm and melancholy Coloratura Soprano Concerto at the height of the war, is a little miracle in itself. The only Shostakovich symphony included is his 9th, an anti-climax celebration of the Russian victory. Works in the 16 volumes released so far are listed below, with links to introductory articles.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Northern Flowers: Wartime Music (143 tracks, 17 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Discussions about this series on Unsung Composers.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Roger Dean's Album Covers: Chronological Collection on Spotify

"Roger Dean is an English artist, designer, architect, and publisher. He is best known for his work on posters and album covers for musicians, which he began painting in the late 1960s. The covers often feature exotic, fantasy landscapes. His work has sold more than sixty million copies world-wide." - Wikipedia

Cover of Yes – Keys To Ascension

This playlist is a collection of albums featuring cover art designed by Roger Dean. From 1969's Earth & Fire, to the new album of Asia, released this month; 67 albums in total. I picked one standout track, or my personal favorite, from every album.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Roger Dean's Album Covers: Chronological Collection (67 tracks from 67 albums). Albums are sorted by release date. See Album Cover Gallery for selected album covers with comment. By the way, I always thought the cover of Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow was by Dean. It's not, but the album itself was partly inspired by Dean's cover for Fragile.

Ctrl (CMD) + G to enable album view; enlarge album cover to browse.

Friday, July 20, 2012

C.P.E. Bach: Complete Keyboard Music (BIS) on Spotify, and Radio Major/Minor Key Emanuel

 "A unique monument to one of the 18th century's most underrated composers." - Gramophone

"C.P.E. Bach was a marvelous composer, and it's rather amazing to consider that until BIS began this estimable series, the vast majority of his more than 60 keyboard concertos remained unknown. ...full of C.P.E. Bach's typical turbulence, Romantic sentiment, and surprising musical syntax. Miklós Spányi plays all of these works on a delightful-sounding tangent piano (a sort of cross between a harpsichord and a piano) with his customary verve and insightful musicianship. He's very well accompanied and recorded too." - David Hurwitz

Since 1995, The Hungarian early keyboard specialist Miklós Spányi has been engaged in recording all the keyboard works of C.P.E. Bach for BIS Records. The 25 volumes of solo keyboard music, and 18 volumes of keyboard concertos released so far, have recently become fully available on Spotify.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: C.P.E. Bach: Complete Keyboard Music (BIS) (571 tracks, total time: 50 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Albums are sorted by volume number; concertos first and solo works second. New releases from this ongoing series will be added when they appear. Reviews and more info about the music can be found on AllMusic and BIS.

This playlist can generate at least two interesting Radio channels: Ctrl (CMD) + F and input minor or major into the filter bar, set the playlist on shuffle, double click it and start exploring this vast goldmine "by mood". Example here. Minor key Emanuel is always special.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Naxos Liszt Complete Piano Music

"The exciting array of prize-winning young pianists and critically-acclaimed, respected artists playing the complete piano music of Liszt distinguishes the series from other collections currently available in the market. Naxos is honoured to be recording laureates of such prestigious competitions as the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition, the London World Piano Competition and the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition." - Official site

This ongoing series features Liszt's own compositions for piano, including piano reduction of orchestral works; as well as his transcriptions of Beethoven, Schubert, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Wagner and many other composers. 35 albums have been released so far, and the whole series became available on Spotify recently.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Naxos: Liszt Complete Piano Music (387 tracks, total time: 40 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Albums are arranged by volume number. Liner notes to every album is available at Naxos. This series is far from completed - Hyperion's Complete Liszt Piano Music took 99 disks to finish. New releases will be added to the playlist when they appear.

Also check out the audiobook on Liszt's life and works from the Naxos Educational playlist. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Naxos Japanese Classics Series on Spotify

"Since the latter half of the 19th century, Japanese classical composers have taken inspiration from western classical music culture to create a variety of original compositions. However, with the exception of works by a few famous figures such as Toru Takemitsu, such compositions have had a limited audience even within Japan. The Naxos Japanese Classics series rediscovers composers such as Akio Yashiro, Saburo Moroi, Hisato Ohzawa, and introduces what is a rich musical repertoire to a much wider audience than before. Many of the works in the collection receive their première recordings. Each album provides detailed and authoritative liner notes, and is supported by fine performances from distinguished ensembles and conductors." - Official site

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Naxos: Japanese Classics (227 tracks, total time: 23 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view (this series features some of the best cover art from Naxos). All titles in this series are available on Spotify, except for one Japan-only release. Albums are sorted alphabetically by composer name. See the Naxos page for more info, including complete liner notes. Also check out the discussion about this series on Unsung Composers

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Naxos Schubert Lied Edition on Spotify

"In what is the perfect introduction to Schubert's world of songs, acclaimed pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr accompanies the élite of today's young German Lieder singers to give superior performances in this ongoing recording project of Schubert's Lieder, totalling over 700 songs set to poetry from classical Greece, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from 18th-century German authors, early Romantics, Biedermeier poets, and Heine. All recordings are supplemented by German and translated English sung texts online." - Official site

Get this edition in one Spotify playlist: Naxos Schubert Lied Edition (672 tracks, 35 volumes, 38 CDs, total time: 41 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Albums are sorted by volume number. Check out booklets and original German texts with English translation on Naxos.

P.S. The Franz Schubert: Complete Chronological Catalogue D. 1 - 998 has been updated accordingly. Original post here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Charles Ives: Complete Chronological Catalogue

"For all his singularity, the Yankee maverick Charles Ives is among the most representative of American artists. Optimistic, idealistic, fiercely democratic, he unified the voice of the American people with the forms and traditions of European classical music. The result, in his most far-reaching work, is like nothing ever imagined before him: music at once unique and as familiar as a tune whistled in childhood, music that can conjure up the pandemonium of a small-town Fourth of July or the quiet of a New England church, music of visionary spirituality built from the humblest materials--an old gospel hymn, a patriotic tune, a sentimental parlor song. The way in which Ives pursued his goal of a democratic art, and his career of creating at the highest level of ambition while making a fortune in the life insurance business, perhaps could only have happened in the United States. And perhaps only there could such an isolated, paradoxical figure make himself into a major artist." - Jan Swafford

This playlist is a roughly chronological collection of Ives' works; compiled after the list of works on AllMusic, sorted by year. Two realizations (by Larry Austin and Johnny Reinhard) of the Universe Symphony are included, as well as two versions (1908 and 1935) of The Unanswered Question, Emerson Concerto, and A Concord Symphony. For the Holiday Symphony, I put the four movements, composed from 1897 to 1913, in their chronological place, and also included a performance of the complete piece (assembled around 1917). The playlist starts with Bernstein's discussion of Ives, and ends with John Adams's orchestral version of five Ives songs.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Charles Ives: Complete Chronological Catalogue (400 tracks, total time: 25 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Monday, July 9, 2012

John Adams: Complete Chronological Collection, So Far

"John Coolidge Adams (born 1947) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer with strong roots in minimalism. His best-known works include Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986), On the Transmigration of Souls (2002), a choral piece commemorating the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003), and Shaker Loops (1978), a minimalist four-movement work for strings. His well-known operas include Nixon in China (1987), which recounts Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China, and Doctor Atomic (2005), which covers Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project, and the building of the first atomic bomb." - Wikipedia

Works in this playlist, with links to introductory articles:
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: John Adams: Complete Chronological Collection (247 tracks from 45 albums, total time: 28 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Try this Nonesuch compilation first if you don't know where to start. Photo from here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Béla Bartók: Complete Chronological Catalogue

Do you remember the music in Kubrick's Shining, when Danny first rides past and notices room 237 on his tricycle? That's Béla Bartók's Music For Strings, Percussion & Celesta, which also can be heard when Wendy and Danny walk into the hedge maze for the first time; and when Danny goes up to his room to retrieve his fire engine.

Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945) is one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt and Ligeti, as Hungary's greatest composer (though Liszt barely spoke the language, and his Hungarian Rhapsodies have more to do with Gypsy bands rather than Hungarian folk music). Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of ethnomusicology.

Bartók transcribing folk music from an Edison phonograph, ca. 1910s.

This playlist was compiled after the chronological list of compositions on Wikipedia (sorted by Sz number; also including works not in Szőllősy's catalogue). From Scherzo-Fantasie (1897) to the unfinished Viola Concerto (1945). Two completions of the latter are included. The six string quartets, a monumental achievement of 20th century music, were taken from six complete sets. For the lovely Romanian Folk Dances, in addition to the original piano version, I also put in four arrangements, including the violin & piano version recorded by Szigeti and Bartók in 1930. They also made the recording of Contrast (for clarinet, violin & piano) used in this playlist, together with Benny Goodman. For The Miraculous Mandarin, an arrangement for 2 pianos made by the composer is also included. Hungaroton's complete Bartók edition is not completely on Spotify (and out of print elsewhere), so a few early and obscure works are missing.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Béla Bartók: Complete Chronological Catalogue (692 tracks, total time: 35 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. You can find an introduction to Bartók from the Musically Speaking series at the beginning of the playlist.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Morton Feldman: Complete Chronological Catalogue on Spotify

"We do not hear what we hear..., only what we remember."  - Morton Feldman

"A major figure in 20th century music, Morton Feldman was a pioneer of indeterminate music, a development associated with the experimental New York School of composers also including John Cage, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown. Feldman's works are characterized by notational innovations that he developed to create his characteristic sound: rhythms that seem to be free and floating; pitch shadings that seem softly unfocused; a generally quiet and slowly evolving music; recurring asymmetric patterns. His later works, after 1977, also begin to explore extremes of duration." - Wikipedia

This playlist is a collection of Feldman's works sorted in chronological order, after the list on this Feldman site. From First Piano Sonata [(To Bela Bartok)] (1943), to For Samuel Beckett (1987). Two Mode albums have wrong metadata, like Variation for Piano in this album was tagged as Nature Pieces. I have informed Spotify about this issue, and compiled the playlist using the right tracks, despite the wrong titles. Correct trackslists of the two albums here: 1, 2.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Morton Feldman: Complete Chronological Catalogue (277 tracks, total time: 49 hours) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. If you are not familiar with this composer, try Coptic Light, Trio, Three Voices, and the Dance Suite first.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Touched By The Hand Of Eno: 150 Tracks From 150 Brian Eno Recordings on Spotify

"Ambient pioneer, glam rocker, hit producer, multimedia artist, technological innovator, worldbeat proponent, and self-described non-musician -- over the course of his long, prolific, and immensely influential career, Brian Eno was all of these things and much, much more. Determining his creative pathways with the aid of a deck of instructional, tarot-like cards called Oblique Strategies, Eno championed theory over practice, serendipity over forethought, and texture over craft; in the process, he forever altered the ways in which music is approached, composed, performed, and perceived, and everything from punk to techno to new age bears his unmistakable influence."  - AllMusic

This playlist features 150 tracks handpicked from 150 albums/EPs/singles that credit Eno as composer, instrumentalist, vocalist, mixing engineer or producer, sorted in chronological order. No cover version here, though every Eno fan should hear Music for Airports played by Bang On A Can, and Icebreaker's rendition of Apollo. Below is a list of albums included; titles are linked to articles in which details about Eno's involvement can be found. His contribution to the selected tracks are noted in the brackets.
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Brian Eno: Musician, Composer & Producer - Complete Chronological Collection (150 tracks from 150 albums) Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view, and click cover art or album title to browse full album. See this page for an annotated discography. Set the playlist on shuffle and enjoy some Golden Hours on Radio Eno. Look forward to add new recordings soon.