Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Complete Chronological Catalogue on Spotify

"One of the leading English composers of his generation, Vaughan Williams was a pupil of Parry, Charles Wood and Stanford, and later of Bruch and Ravel. In his work as a composer he went some way towards creating a specifically English musical idiom, influenced by his interest in folksong but coloured by his own personal vision and language.

Stage Works

The stage music of Vaughan Williams includes the Shakespearean opera Sir John in Love (based on The Merry Wives of Windsor), the masque for dancing Job, and The Pilgrim's Progress. Incidental music for the theatre includes music for The Wasps by Aristophanes, from which the overture is often heard. He also wrote a number of film scores.

Orchestral Music


Vaughan Williams wrote nine symphonies, the first A Sea Symphony for solo singers, chorus and orchestra (with words taken from Walt Whitman), the second A London Symphony, and the third Pastoral Symphony. The Sixth Symphony, completed in its first version in 1947, seemed to break new ground and was followed by a seventh, the Sinfonia antartica, that had its origin in a film soundtrack.


Compositions by Vaughan Williams for solo instrument and orchestra include the pastoral romance The Lark Ascending for solo violin and a Concerto accademico for solo violin and string orchestra. There is an attractive Oboe Concerto and two concertos unusual in their solo instrument: one for harmonica and the other for bass tuba. Flos campi uses a viola and is scored also for small choir and chamber orchestra.

Suites etc.

Vaughan Williams made direct use of folksong in, among other works, his three Norfolk Rhapsodies, his Fantasia on Greensleeves for solo flute, harp and strings, and his English Folksong Suite for military band. His Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for two string orchestras returns to the 16th century for its musical inspiration.

Choral and Vocal Music

Vaughan Williams made a substantial contribution to English choral and vocal repertoire in compositions that include the fine Serenade to Music, completed in 1938. Other compositions range from hymn tunes to an oratorio, from folksong arrangements to the evocative On Wenlock Edge, a setting of poems by A.E. Housman.

Instrumental Music

Vaughan Williams wrote relatively little chamber music and even less music for piano. His organ pieces, however, provide a few useful repertoire items.

Theatre and Film Music

The incidental music Vaughan Williams provided for the theatre was principally for a series of Shakespearean productions in 1913, when he was musical director at Stratford-upon-Avon for Sir Frank Benson's company. From 1940 onwards he provided music for a number of films." - Introduction from Naxos

This playlist was compiled after the work list on AllMusic (sorted by year), plus a few works that are not listed there, like the Bucolic Suite, and Dark Pastoral. Different editions and arrangements by the composer are also featured: 1920 version of A London Symphony,  2008 edition of Symphony No.5, original version of Symphony No.6 (premier recording by Stokowski), original version of The Lark Ascending (for violin and piano), the composer's arrangement of his pupil Patrick Hadley's Fen and Flood, and more. The Wasps are presented with the popular suite, and the complete incidental music (about 100 minutes). The lovely Serenade To Music comes in three versions: 16 soloists, 4 soloists, and orchestra alone. At the end of the playlist there are some recordings of the composer's speeches, and a excerpt from his funeral service.

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Ralph Vaughan Williams - Complete Chronological Catalogue (755 tracks, 55 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Vaughan Williams arranged many English hymns and carols, you can press Ctrl (CMD) + F and input hymn, or carol, or Christmas, to look for seasonal music in this playlist.

Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

100 Songs From 100 Outstanding 2012 Albums You Might Have Missed

If you already know your Funs and Frank Oceans, you probably do not need another "Best of 2012" playlist, except for this one.

Amazon editors: "We listen to a lot of music, and there are a lot of amazing, overlooked albums that we feel passionate about that just could't make our year-end list. And while we can't shine a spotlight on all of our favorite hidden gems of 2012, we have managed to put together a list of outstanding 2012 albums you might have missed (CDs | MP3s). To help you explore, we've assembled a playlist featuring a favorite song from each. Hit preview all and dig for more when you've found a new favorite."

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Amazon - Songs from 2012 Albums You Might Have Missed (94 tracks from 94 available albums, total time: 5 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. See this Amazon page for album list and reviews. Album No. 36, 65, 69, 74, 83, and 87 not on Spotify yet.

If you prefer to have all the full albums in one place, here's another playlist: Amazon - 100 Outstanding 2012 Albums You Might Have Missed (1159 tracks, 94 albums plus some Spotify exclusive content like track-by-track commentary albums, total time: 68 hours).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Verdi auf Deutsch - Verdi Sung in German

"Historically, in the 1950s and 60s, it was very common on the Opera stages and in recording studios to sing Italian Operas in German. The Verdi: Sung in German recordings produced by EMI Electrola between 1953 and 1973 are still just as legendary today with stars such as Nicolai Gedda, Rudolf Schock, Brigitte Fassbaender, Josef Metternich, and Gottlob Frick. For the first time, these recordings are available in a 10 CD-Box creating a unique chapter of German recording-history. Verdi: Sung in German is a wonderful set of performances featuring Verdi s stellar works. This 10-CD Box shows the true talents of one of the most prolific composers in the history of classical music. Verdi: Sung in German includes many of Verdi s most famous operas as Rigoletto, Ein Maskenball, Aida and Der Troubadour. The 10th disc in this set entitled Single Shots is a collection works from operas like Aroldo, DieMacht des Schicksals, Don Carlos and La Traviata. This set features some of the most talented voices in classical opera such as Erika Köth, Marcel Cordes, Rudolf Schock and Alfred Germont (this blogger: someone mistook Violetta's lover for a singer). These pieces capture the essence of Verdi s amazing talent as a composer." - Amazon

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: EMI - Verdi auf Deutsch (165 tracks, total time: 10 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. See my previous 90-hour playlist for the Complete Verdi.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Darius Milhaud - Complete Chronological Collection

"Darius Milhaud was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six - also known as The Group of Six - and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality." - Wikipedia

"Stage Works

Darius Milhaud wrote a considerable amount of music for the theatre (operas, ballets and incidental music) as well as film and radio scores. Collaboration with Claudel brought the opera Christophe Colombe and incidental music for plays ranging from those of Shakespeare to the work of contemporaries such as Brecht, Supervielle, Giraudoux and Anouilh. With Cocteau he wrote the ballets Le Boeuf sur le Toit ('The Ox on the Roof') and the jazz La Création du Monde ('The Creation of the World'). These represent only a small fraction of his dramatic work.

Orchestral Music

Milhaud was equally prolific as a composer of orchestral music of all kinds, including 12 symphonies and a variety of concertos, some of which reflect the influence of his native Provence.

Vocal and Choral Music

Milhaud also contributed widely to the repertoire of French song. His settings (both choral and solo voice with piano) are of texts from a great variety of sources, including Rabindranath Tagore, André Gide, and the words of Pope John XXIII (the last in a choral symphony Pacem in terris). He contributed to Cocteau's Les Mariés de la tour Eiffel and, as a gesture, set to music an agricultural appliance catalogue. Other works reflect his Jewish background.

Chamber Music

Milhaud wrote 18 string quartets and provided useful additions to duo sonata repertoire, not least for the viola. His Quatre Visages of 1943 for viola and piano comprises musical representations of four different kinds of girls. For wind quintet he composed the charming suite La Cheminée du Roi René, and for oboe, clarinet and bassoon he wrote the attractive Pastorale. The works show his characteristically French adroitness in writing for woodwind instruments.

Piano Music

Two works in particular have proved attractive additions to repertoire. The first, Saudades do Brasil, a suite for piano, is based on music heard in Brazil during the composer’s stay there between 1916 and 1918. Scaramouche, arranged for two pianos from incidental music for Molière's Le Médécin volant, is a lively jeu d'esprit, in the spirit of the commedia dell'arte character of the title. La Muse ménagère ('The Domestic Muse') reflects the necessary wartime attempts at house-keeping by his actress wife." - Naxos

Get all available works in one Spotify playlist: Darius Milhaud - Complete Chronological Collection (664 tracks, total time: 37 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Difference arrangements, like four version of Scaramouche, are also included. For a complete list of works see this Wikipedia page.

Milhaud's notable students include: Ben Johnston, Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, and Dave Brubeck.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Notable Spotify Playlists of 2012

1. Radio Rambler and Radio Rambler - previously played

Contemporary classical gems, handpicked by Tim Rutherford-Johnson. Regularly updated. Originally published on his blog.


Curated by Seth Colter Walls, a great mix of multiple genres. Originally published on The Awl.

3. The "complete" John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins

Chronological collection of the jazz greats, sorted by recording sessions. Originally published by Fernando Ortiz de Urbina on his blog.

4. Indie Classical

Originally published on Pitchfork.

5. NPR - Top 50 Albums of 2012

Selected by NPR, playlist compiled by Marty Gregwah.

6. Radiohead Office Charts

Fan-made playlist, after the Office Chart posted by the band on Dead Air Space. From John Luther Adams to J Dilla. Regularly updated.

7. Delos 2012 New Releases and The Delos Catalog

Curated by Delos, "The Great American Label". Their releases cover the easy-to-access classics, core repertoire and edgy new music almost equally well, and their official site is truly impressive and useful.

8. Do I have to make it 10? I must confess that I spent much more time compiling playlists other than looking for them. If you like, please select three more from my over 300 playlists!

Happy listening. Suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2013 Grammy Classical Nominees on Spotify

2013 Grammy Classical Nominees:

Best Orchestral Performance
  • Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride In A Fast Machine - Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 1 - Iván Fischer, Conductor (Budapest Festival Orchestra)
  • Music For A Time Of War - Carlos Kalmar, Conductor (Oregon Symphony)
  • Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances - Valery Gergiev, Conductor (London Symphony Orchestra) 
  • Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5 - Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra)
Best Opera Recording
  • Berg: Lulu - Michael Boder, Conductor; Paul Groves, Ashley Holland, Julia Juon & Patricia Petibon; Johannes Müller, Producer (Symphony Orchestra Of The Gran Teatre Del Liceu)
  • Handel: Agrippina - René Jacobs, Conductor; Marcos Fink, Sunhae Im, Bejun Mehta, Alexandrina Pendatchanska & Jennifer Rivera (Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin)
  • Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress - Vladimir Jurowski, Conductor; Topi Lehtipuu, Miah Persson & Matthew Rose; Johannes Müller, Producer (London Philharmonic Orchestra; Glyndebourne Chorus)
  • Vivaldi: Teuzzone - Jordi Savall, Conductor; Delphine Galou, Paolo Lopez, Roberta Mameli, Raffaella Milanesi & Furio Zanasi (Le Concert Des Nations)
  • Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen - James Levine & Fabio Luisi, Conductors; Hans-peter König, Jay Hunter Morris, Bryn Terfel & Deborah Voigt; Jay David Saks, Producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
Best Choral Performance
  • Handel: Israel In Egypt - Julian Wachner, Conductor (Trinity Baroque Orchestra; Trinity Choir Wall Street)
  • Life & Breath - Choral Works By René Clausen - Charles Bruffy, Conductor (Matthew Gladden, Lindsey Lang, Rebecca Lloyd, Sarah Tannehill & Pamela Williamson; Kansas City Chorale)
  • Ligeti: Requiem; Apparitions; San Francisco Polyphony - Peter Eötvös, Conductor (Barbara Hannigan & Susan Parry; Wdr Sinfonieorchester Köln; Swr Vokalensemble Stuttgart & Wdr Rundfunkchor Köln)
  • The Nightingale - Stephen Layton, Conductor (Michala Petri; Danish National Vocal Ensemble)
  • Striggio: Mass For 40 & 60 Voices - Hervé Niquet, Conductor (Le Concert Spirituel)
Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
  • Americana - Modern Mandolin Quartet
  • Meanwhile - Eighth Blackbird
  • Mind Meld - Zofo Duet
  • Profanes Et Sacrées - Boston Symphony Chamber Players
  • Rupa-khandha - Los Angeles Percussion Quartet
Classical Instrumental Solo
  • Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier - András Schiff
  • The Complete Harpsichord Works Of Rameau - Jory Vinikour
  • Gál & Elgar: Cello Concertos - Claudio Cruz, Conductor; Antonio Meneses (Northern Sinfonia)
  • Holst: The Planets - Hansjörg Albrecht
  • Kurtág & Ligeti: Music For Viola - Kim Kashkashian
Classical Vocal Solo
  • Debussy: Clair De Lune - Natalie Dessay (Henri Chalet; Philippe Cassard, Karine Deshayes & Catherine Michel; Le Jeune Coeur De Paris)
  • Homecoming: Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce Didonato - Joyce Didonato (Michael Stern; Kansas City Symphony)
    Paris Days, Berlin Nights - Ute Lemper (Stefan Malzew & Vogler Quartet)
    Poémes - Renée Fleming (Alan Gilbert & Seiji Ozawa; Orchestre National De France & Orchestre Philharmonique De Radio France)
    Sogno Barocco - Anne Sofie Von Otter (Leonardo García Alarcón; Sandrine Piau & Susanna Sundberg; Ensemble Cappella Mediterranea)
Classical Compendium
  • Partch: Bitter Music - Partch, Ensemble; John Schneider, Producer
  • Penderecki: Fonogrammi; Horn Concerto; Partita; The Awakening Of Jacob; Anaklasis - Antoni Wit, Conductor; Aleksandra Nagórko & Andrzej Sasin, Producers
  • Une Fête Baroque - Emmanuelle Haïm, Conductor; Daniel Zalay, Producer
Contemporary Classical Composition
  • Hartke, Stephen: Meanwhile - Incidental Music To Imaginary Puppet Plays Stephen Hartke, Composer (eighth blackbird)
  • León, Tania: Inura For Voices, Strings & Percussion - Tania León, Composer (Tania León, Son Sonora Voices, Dancebrazil Percussion & Son Sonora Ensemble)
  • Praulins, Ugis: The Nightingale - Ugis Praulins, Composer (Stephen Layton, Michala Petri & Danish National Vocal Ensemble)
  • Rautavaara, Einojuhani: Cello Concerto No. 2 'towards The Horizon' - Einojuhani Rautavaara, Composer (Truls ørk, John Storgárds & Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • Stucky, Steven: August 4, 1964 - Steven Stucky, Composer; Gene Scheer, Librettist (Jaap Van Zweden, Dallas Symphony Chorus & Orchestra) 
Best Engineered Album, Classical
  • Americana - Daniel Shores, Engineer; Daniel Shores, Mastering Engineer (Modern Mandolin Quartet)
  • Beethoven: The Late String Quartets, Op. 127 & 131 - Bruce Egre, Engineer (Brentano String Quartet)
  • Life & Breath - Choral Works By René Clausen - Tom Caulfield & John Newton, Engineers; Mark Donahue, Mastering Engineer (Charles Bruffy & Kansas City Chorale)
  • Music For A Time Of War - Jesse Lewis & John Newton, Engineers; Jesse Brayman, Mastering Engineer (Carlos Kalmar & The Oregon Symphony)
  • Souvenir - Morten Lindberg, Engineer; Morten Lindberg, Mastering Engineer (trondheimsolistene)
Producer Of The Year, Classical
  • Blanton Alspaugh
  • Tim Handley
  • Marina Ledin, Victor Ledin
  • James Mallinson
  • Dan Merceruio 
Get all available recordings on Spotify in one Spotify playlist: 2013 Grammy Classical Nominees (491 tracks, total time: 37 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Classical Music for Children: Delos Young People’s Series on Spotify

The beautifully produced Young People's Series from Delos Music is designed to introduce the very young to the sounds of great classical music. Unlike most other "classical for babies" products, it was brought together with great care, and style. Praises for this series include:

"One of the highest quality 'children's' series I have seen in a long time. A wonderful way to introduce children to classical music."  - The Family Times

"The perfect gift among recordings for introducing a child to the intimacies and universality of music… My eight-year-old daughter Rachel recommends it, and I concur." - Fanfare

"Your children will love this very witty and engaging disc… Fast-paced and clever, these stories are the ideal meeting of words and music - not only the zippy and appropriate scores, but also the sly insinuations and the vocal metamorphoses of the narrators…This is one Christmas present you won't find broken underneath the tree by Dec. 26." - The Seattle Times

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist: Delos - Young People's Series (Great Classical Music for Children) (475 tracks, total time: 32 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. See this page for an overview of the albums, and here for more info.