Classical Music Guides
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Gallaine

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I stopped by my local bookstore this evening and inevitably found myself in the music section. I found, and bought, The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs . It looked like a good source for finding different recordings of your favorite composers music. Are there any other classical music guides worth owning?



I did a search of this forum and didn't find much. Maybe I didn't use the right search words.
 
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DarkAngel

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There are two reference Classical music guides, the oldest and best overall is the Penguin Guide you just bought. These are updated every 2 years along with smaller interim update issue. Also one issue that deals only with budget priced CDs.

Other one is Gramaphones "Good CD Guide" which is similar to Penguin except they only give detailed descriptions their top recommended perfromances for each major work and just list other good performances. In contrast Penguin gives shorter descritions of many perfromances for each major work and also compares/contrasts them, which is why it is a much bigger book.

You will find many times Penguin & Gramaphone agree about best performances, but worth having "Good CD Guide" to get more opinions for major performances. If I had only one it would be Penguin Guide.

There are several other interesting books where CD recommendations are made for major works, but they are not constantly updated or give contrasting views of other works available.
 
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Gallaine

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I just looked up the Gramophone Classical Good CD Guide at Amazon. They appear to publish one every year. I'll go back to the bookstore and take a look at it if they have it. Thanks for the info.

What about magazines? I read the BBCs classical music magazine at the local bookstore. I might get a subscription as it had interesting articles about performers and composers. Any others worth purchasing or subscribing to? I've seen Listener but haven't read it yet.
 
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DarkAngel

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There are some reviews in Gramophone Magazine each month and they do have some reviews archived at their site:
Gramophone

Fanfare offers many reviews in bi-monthly thick small magazine format, website gives content and offers back issues but no archives:
Fanfare

There is also another thick small magazine similar to Fanfare called American Record Guide with many reviews, larger bookstores often carry both these publications in magazine section
 
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AdamK

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I use Penguin a lot but have found that the user reviews at Amazon are often very helpful.
 
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dparrish

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BBC Music magazine is great way to build a library of classical music while you learn about it, as each issue contains a CD of music recorded by the BBC Philharmonic. The issues contain background information on the composer and music that is on the CD, which should enhance your listening. Of course, there's lot's of other interesting articles/features in this magazine.

Of course, the Penquin and Grammaphone guides are excellent also, but you do have to find the music they recommend (though not necessarily the recording they recommend).

David
 
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Gallaine

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Well, I went to bookstore again to look at some of the magazines suggested here. Of those I read I liked BBC Music Magazine and Grammaphone the best. Fanfare seemed like a semi-monthly version of the Penguin guide and so I'll just stick with the book. Listener magazine was a mix of equipment and music reviews - not really what I was after.

It is kind of embarassing to admit that I spent years upgrading my system and forgot to "upgrade" my knowledge. I think a subscription to Grammaphone and/or BBC Music Magazine should be a good start. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by Gallaine
Well, I went to bookstore again to look at some of the magazines suggested here. Of those I read I liked BBC Music Magazine and Grammaphone the best. Fanfare seemed like a semi-monthly version of the Penguin guide and so I'll just stick with the book. Listener magazine was a mix of equipment and music reviews - not really what I was after.

It is kind of embarassing to admit that I spent years upgrading my system and forgot to "upgrade" my knowledge. I think a subscription to Grammaphone and/or BBC Music Magazine should be a good start. Thanks for the suggestions.


I subscribe to Fanfare and like it a lot. In addition to a great "new music" critic (Art Lange), they also have a great jazz column by Michael Ullman.

For online reviews updated weekly, try MusicWeb .They have a ton of great reviews, especially budget ones.

I just heard about a new Classical CD guide called "Classical Music - Third Ear - The Essential Listening Companion." It looks really interesting. You can learn more at backbeatbooks.com . Of course, I tried to find it in two different bookstores but didn't have any luck. Ugh.

One last one. Try the news group rec.music.classical. I've always find interesting discusion there, and have bought a lot of classical releases based on comments made by the people there.
 
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shivohum

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Gallaine

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Quote:

Originally posted by shivohum
Try also browsing through Classical.net's Basic Repertoire. It's a comprehensive set of recommendations for virtually every major composer's best-known works, although these only contain the recording information, and no reviews.


I just spent some time at this site. Very cool! It looks like a good place to start for choosing music to fill-in the large gapping holes in my collection.

FCJ: backbeat books has some interesting books for sale. I'll take a look in my local bookstore for Classical Music - Third Ear - The Essential Listening Companion . It looks like it might be useful. Will let you know if I find it. The Music Web site also looks good.

I am noticing a trend here. Many of the magazines, and even books, about classical music seem to come out of the UK.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by Gallaine

I am noticing a trend here. Many of the magazines, and even books, about classical music seem to come out of the UK.


Given Classical Music's small share in the USA, this is a sad, but true, fact.
 
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KJ_Palmer

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There's Classic FM's monthly magazine (UK as well), which is much more populist than the other journals mentioned. Still worth a browse for the reviews, though, and the free CD is OK.

The Naxos website has some good stuff on composers and different periods in classical music.

http://www.naxos.com/naxos/naxos.htm
 
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RobertR

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the American Record Guide and Fanfare are 2 excellent sources for current classical releases.They have indepth discussions of the music and often comment on the fidelity of the cd. I trust their rating on interpretation & performances more than the hi-fi aspect.
You can find these mags. at Borders or Barnes & Noble.
 
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Gallaine

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I've finished reading the current issue of Grammaphone. I like it enough to get a subscription. Since several people have mentioned Fanfare I'll give it another try. To me it looked like Fanfare didn't have as many articles as some of the others.

The Penguin guide is awesome! I made a list of works that I wanted to get after spending some time at www.classical.net (I highly recommend this web-site).
 
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