Listening to Classical Music

I try and not normally promote any specific sites or businesses. I certainly don't get paid for any advertising and don't think blogs are necessarily the right place for product placement. However....

Naxos is a great source for listening to classical music in a try before you buy senerio. In my recent researching of violin concertos, I have had the opportunity to listen to the following concertos over the past week:

  • Tchaikovsky (Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35)
  • Mendelssohn (Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64)
  • Elgar (Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61)
  • Barber (Violin Concerto, Op. 14)
  • Dvorak (Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53)
  • Prokofiev (Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19 & Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63)
  • Miaskovsky (Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 44 )
  • Vainberg (Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 67 )
  • Shostakovich (Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 99 & Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129)
  • Sibelius (Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47)
  • Szymanowski (Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35 & Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 61)
  • Glass (Violin Concerto)
  • Adams (Violin Concerto)
  • Bartok (Violin Concerto No. 2)

From this list, I've heard at least three different versions of the concertos by Shostakovich and Prokofiev, four different versions Tchaikovsky's concerto, and at least a couple from Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 2. From this list I've purchased (or planning on purchasing) at least a half dozen CD's. Unfortunately, some of the CD's are not available, but at least the music is.

Why am I promoting Naxos? Well, if we (as classical musicians) want classical music to be wider accepted, to be listened to by a wider audience, part of that remit should be promoting ways in which the general public can hear our work (or that of others as none of my pieces has yet to be available on Naxos). We should also encourage people to listen to classical music more (even those of us that perform it on a regular basis). I can not express how much I have learned in just the past week having experienced so many different varieties of the Violin Concerto. Now all I need to do is find a good source for the scores....

Another website I find particularly useful for listening to classical music is Classical Music Archives. As it is an archive site, more modern compositions (20th Century) tend to be more difficult to find due to copyright restrictions. However, there are both live recordings as well as midi files of pretty much anything pre-20th century and a fair number of things within the last hundred years. You can register with the site for a nominal fee and download a thousand files a month, or go the cheap route and limit yourself to just five a day (it's a worthwhile organisation, so don't be cheap).

If, you're like me and like to look at the scores of music while you're listening, downloading the midi files and importing them into Sibelius, Finale or Noteworthy will give you some idea as to what the composer intended. It's not perfect, and you have to be careful as what the composer originally wrote, may not be what the person who created the midi file ultimately input. The other problem you might face is if someone put performance aspects into the midi file. This would skew the notes to place them where they "sound best", but not where they were actually written in the score. So, like I said above, I'm still looking for a good source for scores.

BTW, next week I hope to provide a review for the above listed concertos as to which ones I like and why. This will only be from a listening point of view, but should provide for some interesting discussion.

Also- if you have other concertos (and there are numerous more I have yet to listen to) that you might suggest, I'm open to hearing what you think should be on my list.


Anonymous said…
Hi Chip,

Although is a good source for try-before-you-buy, its sister music streaming service, Naxos Music Library can be used in a similar manner.

For a low monthly or annual fee one will have access to over 339,000 tracks (at last count) from the Naxos' and its 40+ distributed labels.
Chip said…
Thanks for the suggestion... Yes, this is also a good source for listening to a large selection of classical music.

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