Saturday, April 4, 2009

More home audio

Via Alex Ross (, I've come across Instant Encore, a Web platform for audio and video of classical-music performances:

Grazing the site for a couple of hours, I found extensive concert archives from several chamber-music series (best find so far: the Shanghai Quartet and pianist Yuja Wang playing the Schumann Piano Quintet, recorded at Music Mountain a couple of months before their November 2007 performance of the work at the University of Richmond) and a few orchestras (first-rate Brahms Fourth Symphony from the Indianapolis Symphony, Lawrence Renes conducting); also a lot of 3-minute samples and music by unfamiliar composers. The audio clips I heard were in FM-radio quality sound.

The site has an events calendar covering, in apparently random order, headline events in most major U.S. cities. (A search takes you to Richmond, Charlottesville and the cities and counties of Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, but oddly not Roanoke.)

I haven't used other features of the site, such as tracking my concert attendance (what for, bragging rights?) or signing up as a fan of this or that artist, so I can't speak to their attraction or utility.

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Also worth visiting: Weekly podcasts of vintage recordings on Archive Classics, from the producers of Pristine Classical CDs and audio downloads.

Most of these performances are from the 78-rpm era, but audio remastering gets the most sound, and loses most surface noise, from the sources. Every artist featured on the current podcast РWilhelm Furtwängler, Artur Schnabel, Jascha Heifetz, William Primrose, Walter Gieseking Рcontributes something unique to the music at hand. (The last bit, Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" from Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, will be an inspiration to music directors of half-time shows everywhere):

POSTSCRIPT: Yes, I noticed the resemblance between "Archive Classics" and "Concertmasters," the series I used to produce for WCVE-FM. Their show sounds better than mine did.