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Posted on 23 Apr 2012 17:24:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Apr 2012 17:40:30 BDT
Malx says:
This may well be a silly question, but does anyone know what quality the files used on Spotify for general listening as a casual user are?

Posted on 24 Apr 2012 02:52:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Apr 2012 03:02:18 BDT
JayJayDee says:
Sorry Malx, I'm not yet in to Spotify.
I recently listened to the Takacs Quartet version of the Rasumovsky opus 59s, transferred to hard drive from an Amazon download. The download fluctuates around the 226kbs mark. The performances are so good that I forgot to worry about the fact that it was not even 320 !!
Indeed, the original recording was so good that I admit to not noticing any degradation, but obviously I don't have the CD to compare it against. What I WAS comparing it with is a highly rated Budapest Quartet recording on a CBS-Sony (AAD) disc. That original recording is over 50 years old and sounds rather scrawny and shallow - as you might expect. The modern recording degraded to mp3 quality was still audibly preferable to a digitised version of an early analogue recording. A lesson here would be that it is probably adequate to fill in the back catalogue at download prices.... witness that absurdly cheap Schnabel Beethoven currently offered!

I wonder if it is necessary to secure full lossless playback of such limited original material. Those original recordings probably don't even carry the nuances that otherwise appear to be lost when going below 1411 kbs.
Any views on that?
In either event the music won the debate! Those Rasumovskys are quite a treasure trove.

Posted on 24 Apr 2012 09:29:42 BDT
JJD: I agree with what you say about historical recordings and they make up a fairly high proportion of my downloads. I suppose it is true that you need as good a recording as reasonably possible to give them a chance but I don't think lossless recordings are needed for them.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 14:38:37 BDT
zargb5 says:
According to spotify the free version streams music at 128 kbps and if you subscribe its supposed to be 320 kbps.
A friend has it and is able via an external dac and outputs to record from it. (yes it is not legal) He's mainly just done a handful of tracks Of historical recordings (cd's which have gotten damaged over the years)which to be honest you can't tell the difference between the cd version and the recorded one due to poor sound quality of the original source.

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 19:59:01 BDT
Malx says:
Thanks zargb5, the sound is ok when played from my computer through my second (very modest) system even at that low bitrate.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 00:35:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 00:37:39 BDT
JayJayDee says:
I checked the frequency spectrum of the Schnabel downloads with the Audacity software and the recordings have no information whatsoever above 7 Khz, and very little below 100Hz. But still sound astonishing for early 1930s recordings at 226 kbs !!!
Speaking of which I have now checked the HDTT 'remastered' version of the Horenstein Mahler 3 and I feel it is quite outrageous how they have tampered with the waveform (using the 'levelling' form of compression), speeded up selected movements by 0.5% and dived into the frequency spectrum by adding emphasis below that which was present on the original recording, rolling off above 13,000 Hz, foreshortening the ambient fade-outs and literally cutting out 80% of the LuftPause five minutes before the end of the first movement (perhaps because scared of the appearance of pumping???).
No wonder Unicorn have successfully ensured the withdrawl of that issue! If anyone wants to purchase the Horenstein Mahler 3 I do hope they get a copy that is approved by Unicorn-Kanchana! The only sonic improvement I can recommend for it is generous use of the volume control!

Posted on 28 Apr 2012 16:22:27 BDT
Nick says:
Not sure if mentioning Play.com is now a dirty word! Spotted another couple of super bargains. The BIS Sibelius edition; several parts of it to consider. Vol. 3 Voice & Orchestra includes the superb Lahti/Vanska Kullervo not on the bargain set here & Vol.5 - The Theatre music includes so many gems - Pelleas & Melisande/The Tempest etc etc. Other volumes available (all at £6.99 per download set) are the songs, chamber music vol.1 and the symphonies (including the fragments not available in any other version of the Vanska/Lahti cycle). comparable price on Amazon much more.

Posted on 30 Apr 2012 23:14:01 BDT
Malx says:
Not a dirty word as far as I'm concerned just got Bruckner 9 Munich PO and Bruckner 7 BPO both Gunter Wand for the princely sum of £1.99 each (320kbps).

In reply to an earlier post on 2 May 2012 12:56:47 BDT
Nick says:
I'm starting to see a pattern in the oddness of Play's pricing. Pretty much all of the Chandos discs they have seem to be at £5.99 (occasionally £6.99) even when they are sets. Checking this theory shows that the recent Shelley/Beethoven complete concertos is there at the £6.99 price point - less than 1/2 the next best download price I can find and better still than any CD price - yes it is all 4 discs. They have the 3 Gamba/RVW film score discs collected together @ £5.99 and the famous Jarvi/Prokofiev symphonies at the same price. As has been noted before BIS sets seem to be the other big bargain - the Jarvi/Sibelius cycle including Kullervo is stupidly cheap and his Stenhammer set too. The best of those bargains is the complete Tubin symphonies but I think that's been mentioned here before. One last super-bargain; dreadful 'cover' but its the complete Martinon/Decca recordings from the 50's to 1961. 9 discs-worth again for £6.99 and includes some classic recordings of the time. I've bought that bit haven't been able to hear it all yet so don't know if there are any technical/labelling errors.

Posted on 2 May 2012 13:17:24 BDT
JayJayDee says:
That Martinon set includes a magnificent performance of Prokofiev's 7th Symphony, which I remember buying on Decca's vinyl Eclipse label. And a rather good Namouna (which I think I have on a Lalo/Bizet twofer CD. Good recordings.

Posted on 19 May 2012 19:01:29 BDT
Malx says:
For those interested I have stumbled across what I consider to be another download bargain from Play.com If you have any interest in Scandanavian music and don't already know Stenhammar than this collection is well worthy of consideration. It contains most of the orchestral works you are likely to want.
I have yet to listen to it all so can't say with certainty there are no issues but from BIS sources the sound is v.good at 320kbps.

http://www.play.com/Music/MP3-Download-Album/4-/12590285/STENHAMMAR-Symphonies-Nos-1-and-2-Piano-Concertos-Nos-1-and-2-Orchestral-Music/Product.html?searchstring=symphonies&searchtype=musicall&searchsource=2&searchfilters=s%7bsymphonies%7d%2bc%7b34%7d%2bae54%7bAlbum%7d%2b&cpage=4&urlrefer=search

Posted on 21 May 2012 00:28:43 BDT
Nick says:
here's this month's freebie download via the Chandos newletter - Prokofiev: Peter & the Wolf; Cinderella Ballet Suite - just a single track (but complete) for Peter and the wolf as opposed to the 56[!!!!] it is given on the Amazon download and at 320 kps as opposed to the lower rates offered here.

Posted on 21 May 2012 08:41:04 BDT
Malx says:
Nick: have a look on Play.com search for Mackerras, there is a compilation of his recent Signum live recordings with the Philharmonia, Mahler, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky,Schubert included another bargain that i'll be trying soon.

Posted on 26 May 2012 08:04:44 BDT
Nick says:
Membran seem to be producing these box sets at silly low prices - here's one that popped up just now for consideration - Carl Nielsen the Danish S - for some odd reason the £10.17 price is the Amazon Price but its defaulting to a silly high marketplace price. The bulk of these performances are the well-regarded ex-Classico sourced discs from Douglas Bostock and the RLPO. To be honest I find them perfectly good, indeed very well played and recorded, but Bostock I never find to be anything but a straight-forward interpreter at best. But such wonderful music at such a good price is worth considering since he includes several rarities/variant versions as well as other discs including some keyboard works and songs (I think!)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 May 2012 13:20:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 May 2012 13:21:46 BDT
JayJayDee says:
But, Nick, how does Bostock compare with Blomstedt, Schmidt and Schonwandt? I'm wondering if Nielsen is rather like Martinu in that once you have a good version you're not going to squeeze much more out of another similar interpretation.
On the other hand if we go trundling along from the seventh to the seventeenth Beethoven 5, then why not three or four Nielsen sets ?? One answer to that is that there are other post-Nielsen Scandinavians worthy of our attention - and not only Holmboe

Posted on 29 May 2012 13:33:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 May 2012 13:58:49 BDT
Nick says:
JJD - for some unjustifiable reason Nielsen is one of those composers I keep adding versions to. But I think you are right; all of the sets you mention are very fine (and of course Schønwandt uses the critical edition too) and to those I'd also add Kuchar on Brilliant and the Chung/Jarvi cycle on BIS. The interest was I used to live in Liverpool so have an affection for anything the RLPO does and there are a couple of rarities included here that don't turn up on other cycles. If I was watching my pennies I'd try a first set of Tubin/ Atterberg /Rangstrom/ Petersen / Alfven /Holmboe for starters beforethis Nielsen cycle. If it was to be my 1st Nielsen I'd put this cycle of the main works after any of the above.

PS: the Chung/Jarvi set is available on Play.com as a download for £6.99 which includes the 6 symphonies & 3 concerti - their standard 320 kps downloads.

Posted on 29 May 2012 13:55:23 BDT
Nick & JJD: For whatever reason Nielsen seems to have more to say to me than the others you mention and I keep coming back to him, though it is a while since I bought a complete cycle and don't feel tempted by the Brilliant box (well not much). I have tried Tubin, Atterberg, Holmboe, Alfven and Petersen but not felt like buying any complete cycles. You can also add Langgaard, Madetoja and Kajanus to the list. Only Tveitt has inspired me to explore his output in any depth.

Posted on 29 May 2012 21:42:39 BDT
Malx says:
Has anyone any thoughts on another Scandanavian composer; Stenhammar. To me a (very) late romantic composer with no real originality but who nevertheless produced a lot of very listenable music.

The Jarvi BIS symphonies/piano concertos is another of the plethora of £6.99 downloads from play.com.

Posted on 29 May 2012 22:27:45 BDT
Piso Mojado says:
I've been disappointed by brief acquaintance with Stenhammer's piano concerto and a symphony, Nick. Also by Berwald and Atterberg, who wrote a horn concerto. I heard one of Berwald's symphonies played by a suburban orchestra here this year, being played here for the first time in 65 years. They should have waited a little longer. I had a dreadful experience with that symphony that Nielsen couldn't put out (Blomsted and San Francisco orchestra on tour), but I like his violin concerto. I have troubles enough with some of Grieg, but Sibelius I definitely like. How about Ole Bull and that stavanger composer, what's his name?

Posted on 29 May 2012 22:41:02 BDT
Nick says:
Stenhammar's 2nd Symphony is marvellous. Never been overly smitten with the piano concerti however. Much as I am fan of English music I find the Scandanavian composers generally more compelling and impressive pound for pound. Add Melartin to the list (another Play.com bargain - his 6 symphonies) as well as Klami. Berwald has never floated my boat and neither has Gade but more to do with the sense they are 'between' styles rather than anything else. The recent Chandos Halvorsen discs were great fun if not exactly revolutionary. Piso - Nielsen 4 certainly lights my fire - what made the experience so dreadful? - mugged by timpanists perhaps!?

Posted on 30 May 2012 00:21:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jun 2012 03:54:01 BDT
Piso Mojado says:
I don't know why I reacted so badly to Nielsen's "Inextinguishable", Nick. It's a mystery. Maybe Blomsted and the performance were to blame. It was a dreary program, with Claudio Arrau looking like a bundle of old clothes, playing Beethoven's fourth concerto barely competently, nothing more. This was in 1986; I had just been transferred to Chicago. San Francisco was my home-town band for 30 years. That, and seeing Arrau on television desperately trying to cope with the fourth and fifth-finger R.H. trills in Beethoven's Op. 111 were really depressing.

I had a similar experience when Slatkin and St. Louis SO played Elgar's first at Wheaton College and I was trapped in the middle of the first row.

It could be atmospheric, weather-related, or indigestion. Maybe I should have had a few Scotches before those concerts. It's always vodka for Shostakovich, according to the barkeeps at Orchestra Hall.

Posted on 31 May 2012 20:26:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 May 2012 20:42:27 BDT
JayJayDee says:
By contrast a couple of quarts of Bavarian Pilsner for Herr Wagner?
Plenty of comfort breaks needed there! Ahh, Piso, the nickname is beginning to unravel..... (speaking of which- a glass of Merlot s'il vous plait).
'Tis surely a shame when the great names fail to hang up their boots in good time. Didn't Otto Klemperer actually claim that his tempi had NOT slowed down with age? Something must have.
As for L'Inextinguibile it was the Chicago/Martinon, unforgettably described as 'chrome-plated' by Gramophone magazine, that led me beyond the 5th and Espansiva (which I had previously thought was my 'fair' quota for Nielsen!)
----------------
And Nick, do you have a url. link for the Play.com classical downloads? I can never seem to access the full range through the main site.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 May 2012 22:58:48 BDT
Nick says:
JJD: the Play.com search engine is not very good and the classical discs/downloads they supply are rather arbitrary. The best method I find is a simple drill down search by composer/conductor or soloist. From the home page enter say "Nielsen" into the all departments search box. The choose "music". At this stage DON'T go straight to classical - scroll down and look at the number of hits for "digital type/album". For Nielsen it shows 69. Its worth going straight to that although the genres are mixed up. If there are too many hits that you want to bother with try classical then digital type. The key is recognising which labels are well represented there. Da Capo is pretty good BIS - the older 'box sets' - are excellent value. Chandos is well represented - everything single or multiple discs seems to be around £5.99 or £6.99. Of course the vast majority of downloads are at 320 kps which is very good - significantly better than Amazon. The annoying thing for example is if you put in "Wagner" you'll find - eventually - the Janowski complete 'Ring' for £11.99 but NOT the separate operas - to get them you put in "Janowski" which throws up the 4 @ £2.99 a pop and - I notice today - his Pentatone Parsifal & Mastersingers for just £6.99 for the complete operas. Its all rather hit and miss but takes on the pleasure(!) of browsing through a bargain basement.

By the way I rather like the Martinon/Nielsen - the chrome comment is musical snobbery. Discovering his Chicago discs rather woke me up to his conducting which I had ghettoised as Debussy/Ravel only. The Masterworks collection on Play (search simply "Martinon) kicks out his Essential Classical Masters (1951-1960) which are his early Decca recordings I've mentioned before. Some are simply stunning although the sound is limited on the earlier recordings (but never 'bad') unless you are allergic to mono! Again £6.99 for 11+ hours music

Posted on 31 May 2012 23:02:25 BDT
Malx says:
Nick: do you know the Janowski Meistersingers/ Pasifal? I have heard good things about both but have yet to hear anything from either.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 May 2012 23:10:31 BDT
Nick says:
Hi Malx; no - nothing at all, but at the Play price I'm tempted. Some reviews seem to like the Janowski approach and others are very scornful. All seem to praise the actual technical recording. To be honest I'm not enough of a Wagner expert to compare and contrast!
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