New Formats for recorded music from Chandos, Resonus & macro
These are times of rapid change in recorded music delivery.
Following the Nimbus CD-R discs of all the Haydn Symphonies etc in two convenient boxes (no thicker than the usual for many an opera) from Wyastones, which we have welcomed, there are now other compact presentations which will appeal to collectors with limited space.
Chandos USB memory sticks are bringing together huge collections from back catalogues, and we have had samples of their complete Elgar oratorios and Vaughan-Williams symphonies, each with extra works, some of them rarities (e.g. Elgar's Caractacus).*
These are fine performances, well reviewed when new, and the convenience (and space saving) should attract collectors. Each stick has additional works which you may not know.
They are fairly easy to install and the big plus is the inclusion of all the background paper work from the CDs, looking good and with the texts amenable to "zoom" to help the many music lovers whose eyesight is ofen challenged by the amount crammed into CD liner notes.
In my advance copies the "albums" were given as CHAN numbers, which was unsatisfactory for Search and remembering.
To achieve normal playing through the tracks of individual works, we renamed ours with album titles Elgar, Edward and Vaughan Williams, Ralph and all was well. I'm sure that will have been sorted out for the commercial releases?
* See also MusicWeb's technical assessment of these Chandos Sticks PGW
Resonus Classics downloads
Another innovative new company is Resonus Classics, which operates by downloads only, claiming to be a label "built for the 21st century".
Resonus Classics' latest recording of Judith Bingham's music, her solo organ work 'The Everlasting Crown' premiered by Stephen Farr at the 2011 Proms, is magnificent, and the whole presentation admirable (March 2012).
The music, which is accessible but not simplistic, and its supporting material, was easy to download onto iTunes and (via AppleTV) to my best equipment.
It really sounded as if the recently restored and impressive Harrison & Harrison organ at St Alban's Cathedral was in our living room; quite thrilling.
The background (not really essential for enjoying the music) is about the imagining of a fictitious crown made up from real and famous gem stones; Bingham draws on the mythologies and infamous owners of some of the world’s most precious stones for her inspiration.
This release will be as good as any to convince yourself that with download only distribution of music by a responsible organisation nothing need be lost.
See also Bingham chamber works
Dieterich Buxtehude, Antonio Bertali, John Jenkins, Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli, Augustinus Kertzinger, Georg Muffat, Alessandro Stradella and Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
Fantasticus: Rie Kimura (Baroque violin), Robert Smith (viola da gamba and Baroque cello) and Guillermo Brachetta (harpsichord)
A delightful debut recording which amply rewards the (quite easy) process necessary to enjoy Resonus' releases - downloads only.
This group, which trained in Amsterdam, concentrates on the extravagant style of chamber music playing in the late 17th Century. Improvisation around given notation is axiomatic and provides many moments to relish. The recording (engineered by Adam Binks at Bunnik, Holland in April 2012) is of the highest standard.
You can download it at quality of choice (I selected .WAV) and make your own CD on the computer or, using AppleTV, I can play Resonus releases easily too on my best TV in the sitting room downstairs.
Do join this innovatory revolution !
Yet another approach has come to us from a company which is generally not involved with "classical" contemporary music.
macro recordings sent unsolicited the files of their forthcoming release for review: Friedrich Goldmann - Late Works (Macro M24) with a command to Enjoy!
I'd never consciously heard of Goldmann, although he'd been commissioned and performed by such as the Berliner Philharmoniker, Pierre Boulez, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet and Daniel Barenboim.
I did enjoy, particularly as downloading and dragging the .mp3 files into iTunes was smooth as butter, and with new equipment downstairs and AppleTV as an intermediary I was able to appreciate the superb recording quality and, too, exuberant performances, some of which are by an (excellent) student orchestra, with extravagant exotic instrumentation (I did not feel any need to explore the even higher quality "WAV" option).
The documentary information for this release is however, rather basic, not to be compared with those reviewed above, and it will be interesting to compare with the presentation of the corresponding physical CD.
Yes, Friedrich Goldmann (1941 – 2009) is a composer whose music ought to become known posthumously in UK, but with so many others from "abroad", live and dead, jostling for ever fewer opportunities here (especially for orchestral music) his chances are not good...
A more worrying "new format" is to be found on a couple of Barenboim discs received for review.
My picture shows the totality of the information supplied for the recital! Nothing on the blank reverse of the single page, no CD number, not even the date of the live recording (there is applause) ! *
Yet it made for pleasant listening over breakfast, idiomatic playing if with some roughnesses...
Is this one way it is all going?
q.v. Colin Anderson on this same recital: http://theclassicalreview.com/cds-dvds/2011/01/daniel-barenboim-the-warsaw-recital/
Peter Grahame Woolf
* Another, with similar absence of any presentation, has a lucid account of Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra [also on Decca Classics 4782719 - that version probably does have some notes?].