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Thread: Sourcing high quality classical music

  1. #1
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    Sourcing high quality classical music

    Hi,

    Recently I've felt a growing desire to explore classical music more thoroughly. However I don't really know where to start looking in terms of attaining high quality recordings/performances. I'm somewhat daunted by the fact that there must be hundreds of recordings of the same pieces out there and I don't just want to randomly choose which to get. My question is how do you go about your search to find classical recordings? Where do you find your sources?

    Some of the composers I'm interested in:

    Mahler, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Monteverdi, Dowland.

    Thanks for your help!

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Might do some research using youtube.com..many performances from all these composers..(There are many fine compositions from all these mentioned for sure.) and Music appreciation adult education class at your local college/schools would be a good beginging spot/exposure .welcome to the forums...Take care and goodluck
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Hi, As Bill says youtube does have a lot of music, OK the sound quality may not be as good but it can often give valuable clues to what you are looking for, example being able to compare different interpretations of a work, some of the more popular works may have quite a few different performers versions which may differ greatly in tempo, and phrasing so you could eliminate some that way.

    You certainly have a wide range of periods in your choice of composers.

    For Monteverdi I would suggest this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC1A512ywoI

    If that is not available as a CD or DVD there is an earlier version by Gardiner on DVD recorded in the 1980s with a very similar line up but recorded in St Marks Venice

    Also when searching record sellers sites you will often find short sound samples which may help decision making.

    One point about music appreciation classes could be that they tend to reflect the tastes of the teacher, might be worth checking reviews of their classes.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Commander, Assistant Conductor ericwood992's Avatar
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    I think these are the two best sources:

    http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/Boo...399768,00.html
    http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/rosettes.php

    I have used the Penguine Guide for years now and find it very reliable.

    Best wishes,
    Eric.

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    Thanks guys. A lot of very helpful information there.

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    If you want the best recordings then you must go to either forums such as our sister Talk Classical and ask, or get the Penguin guide to Classical CD or the one linked by Mike (this is issued each year but you can pick up an older one at 2nd hand book shops) I used that as my Bible when I started my CD collecting another source is the Gramophone Magazine or the BBC Music Magazine. and don't forget to listen to your classical radio stations.
    Last edited by JHC; Jan-13-2013 at 09:39.
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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    and don't forget to listen to your classical radio stations.
    Not always the best source, too many rely on a "top 30" approach and in some cases also a yearly "top 300 as voted for by listeners", so you hear the same pieces over and over again, including some modern "cult" composers or performers who have been touted by some critic or record company and the readers of the up market press lap it up somewhat like the Flickr or Farcebook "WOW" reactions to members photos which really belong in the trash bin. I could name quite a few composers who wrote a considerable amount of music, of which only one or two are ever played, example Vivaldi wrote a lot, but you rarely hear any works of his other than the 4 Seasons and the Gloria and a mandolin concerto, even Bach who wrote over 1,000 works only gets about 6 of them played with any regularity.

    A better idea than local radio might be last.fm, Spotify, or similar on line music streaming sites, where you pick the composers/artists/albums you want to hear, listen to those, delete selections you don't like and select some others to check out.

    You don't mention where you are from, I note some of the suggestions are a bit UK oriented and may not be available world wide.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    30 years ago, when I began building a classical library of recorded music, I was fortunate to be given a copy of the book music students love to hate The History of Western Music by Donald J Grout. I loved that book because it would say things like, "The masterpieces of Mozart's Viennese period are..." Coupled with the, then, new Penguin Stereo Record Guide I began to build a reasonably good collection.

    I would also recommend books like All Music Guide to Classical Music from 2005 for American choices if you can find it. 1001 Classical Recording You Must Hear Before You Die for a chronological selection of choices with a particularly wonderful emphasis on 20th century music, and The Gramophone Classical Music Guide 2012, which is the last year they plan to print it. All can be sourced in the meta-search engine http://used.addall.com/

    Of course listening online and on radio, as was recommended above, is also a good place to hear tunes you might enjoy.

    Happy listening,

    Steve
    i

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    a thought too: amazon's mp3 downloads have 1000's of good classical albums, single selction.. I use them for dowloads for my mp3 library of course most are not free. Also BMG music service has loads of cd's and many are as low as $6.99 usd.. bought some from them and very good quality. I now prefer to buy DVD's in-stead -of cd's of musical performances..must more to my liking and with the ability to watch the performance.
    Last edited by wljmrbill; Jan-28-2013 at 08:49.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

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