Sunday, December 22, 2013

We Love Music

My dear readers,

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

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

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

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

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

Music is the best.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lutosławski Centennial - Complete Chronological Catalogue on Spotify

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

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

Happy 100th birthday.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tan Dun - Chronological Discography on Spotify

"The conceptual and multifaceted composer/conductor Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world's music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical, multimedia, Eastern and Western musical systems. Central to his body of work, Tan Dun has composed distinct series of works which reflect his individual compositional concepts and personal ideas — among them a series which brings his childhood memories of shamanistic ritual into symphonic performances; works which incorporate elements from the natural world; and multimedia concerti. Opera has a significant role in Tan Dun's creative output of the past decade, mostly recently with the premiere of The First Emperor by the Metropolitan Opera in December 2006 with a title role created for Plácido Domingo. In 2008, Tan composed Internet Symphony No. 1: "Eroica" commissioned by Google/YouTube as the focal point for the world’s first collaborative online orchestra. Recent works include Piano Concerto: The Fire for Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic; Violin Concerto: The Love, for soloist Cho-Liang Lin, and Earth Concerto for Ceramic Percussion and Orchestra. Of his many works for film, Tan Dun’s score for Ang Lee's film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, received an Oscar Award for best original score. His music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc." For a complete biography, click here.

Image source: The Guardian
Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Tan Dun - Chronological Discography (158 tracks, total time: 13 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Check out his official site and AllMusic for list of recordings and introductory articles. Also see my previous playlist for a sampler of Chinese-born Composers.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wigmore Hall Live Series on Spotify

"In October 2005, the Wigmore Hall, London, UK, became the first concert hall to launch its own record label: Wigmore Hall Live, building upon the venue's existing reputation as a recital hall established early in the 20th century. One of the aims was to bring the musical programme to a wider audience. In the 2011 Gramophone Awards, Wigmore Hall Live won the special award: Label of the Year.

Before launching the label, state-of-the-art recording equipment and comprehensive sound insulation had to be installed. These improvements led to the Soile Isokoski disc (recorded live in 2006) receiving a Gramophone Award nomination." - Wikipedia

Get 53 of the 55 releases in one Spotify playlist: Wigmore Hall Live series (1249 tracks, total time: 83 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. Albums are arranged by release date. Maybe because the label uses difference distributors for Europe and US, some album have two copies for the two markets. The US "version" is not available in Europe, and vise versa. I included both copies so every user can find the one available in their region.

See Presto Classics and the official site for album list and introduction.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wagner's Vision - Bayreuth Heritage on Spotify

"This 50-CD set is released to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner, and is an outstanding sound document of the history of the Bayreuth Festival during the first half of the 20th century. The collection includes music from all operas authorised by Wagner for performance in Bayreuth. To complement the edition, scenes and solo titles out of the decades of the festival direction of Cosima, Siegfried and Winifred Wagner are included. They go back to the festival summer of 1904 and communicate impressions from important and famous performances until 1943.

Recordings from New Bayreuth of the Wagner grandsons Wieland and Wolfgang lead to the newest era of the festival. All performances on the 50 CDs are original recordings from Bayreuth and are directed by Siegfried Wagner, Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Victor de Sabata, Karl Muck, Herbert von Karajan, Clemens Krauss, Joseph Keilberth, Hans Knappertsbusch, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Lorin Maazel and André Cluytens – a role call of some of the 20th century’s greatest conductors." - introduction from The Wagnerian

Get this collection in one Spotify playlist here: Wagner's Vision - Bayreuth Heritage (311 tracks, total time: 34 hours). Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view. All available titles listed here are on Spotify. More reviews and discussions. For Complete Wagner, see my previous playlist.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 New Classical Releases Index (Collaborative Playlist) + 2012 New Soundtrack Releases

Two days into 2013, there are already 46 new classical albums on Spotify, ranging from Lisa Batiashvili's Brahms violin concerto, to a new recording of Rzewski's modern masterpiece The People United Will Never Be Defeated. To search and browse all the new releases more easily, you may want to subscribe to this 2013 New Classical Releases Index. It is a collaborative playlist and everyone can help to update it. A few rules to keep the playlist neat and useful:

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

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

3. Please avoid duplicated entries. Use the filter bar to check before adding. For example: before you add Peter Maxwell Davies – Maxwell Davies: Piano Concerto - Worldes Bli, you can press Ctrl (CMD) + F to bring out the filter bar, input partial title (like Davies piano) to see if the album is already in the playlist.

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

Get the regularly updated 2013 classical catalog in one Spotify playlist here. Ctrl (CMD) + G to browse in album view.

Thanks ferrisc for helping to update the 2012 playlist (which has 1521 albums by now). He has compiled a wonderful 2012 New Soundtrack Releases playlist that includes John Williams's Lincoln, Jonny Greenwood's The Master, Howard Shore's The Hobbit and dozens more.