A special price on another newly-released mp3 album from Bach Guild/Vanguard Classics (Feb. 19, 2013)
Big Handel Box mp3 album
As mentioned recently, the promo price reported on January 15, for the Beethoven Big Box mp3 offering didn't last long, and the Beethoven mp3 album page is now gone, not listed currently, and it's likely that they took it down to correct tracks and track listings identified by customers for that box at the time. Even then, the same customer reviewers considered it a must-buy, for those interested in classical music, at 99c with the errors noted.
The Big Mozart Box, released January 2013 with 131 tracks and still (as of March 4) being made available for 99 cents for the entire album, also has many excellent performances by some big name recording artists. The blog article for that one was just 2 weeks ago.
The newly released Big Handel Box mp3 album continues the series, presenting works with all movements present and in correct sequence, unlike what's seen with compilations sold by others. But the Bach Guild/Vangard Classics label has a good reputation for its collection back to the 60s, and the general sound quality on them is considered quite good, overall, with apparently few exceptions noted.
There are 302 tracks in this 99c album, with about 14 hours of music.
Much of it involves vocal works with orchestra, but there are 2 oboe concertos plus the Water Music Suite, and 6 flute sonatas, several of the latter are well known.
Some of the works use countertenors, an acquired taste, and the lead countertenor here, Alfred Deller, used a head tone and vibrato that doesn't usually appeal to me particularly, but he has a great reputation for musicianship, and his son, Mark, who sings the works with him is excellent. If you're wanting to become familiar with Handel's output, this is a very good way to do that, for the 99 cents for the 302 tracks.
They're mainstream performances by forces popular a few decades ago and are not in the "original instrument period performance" style popular with some of us today, though I enjoy the older, somewhat more romantic style when I'm in that mood, and many listeners prefer that in general.
The Bach Guild uses the review-space to explain a lot of it. Some points made:
' ... This set does include a marvelous, really marvelous collection of high quality performances of Handel’s vocal and choral output. Most of it is new to digital download - almost all of the vocal performances are new to Amazon’s customers.
...we do like to please the knowledgeable customers who are looking for previously unreleased material - and we’ve seen in some of the longer reviews some members are very in-tune with what is available and what isn’t. The “goodies” in this set are the Rutgers University Choir recordings of the Chandos Anthems, which has been completely unavailable digitally until now, and has been out of print on CD for almost 20 years. The recording of Alexander’s Feast is only available digitally as part of a much larger set. Same with my own personal favorite, the recording that leads off this box, the Ode on the Birthday of Queen Anne, with that magical opening “Eternal Source”, a favorite recording of Alfred Deller and Seymour Solomon of Vanguard. There are also some oboe concerti that have never been available digitally as well.'
... some recordings are mono; there are no stereo sources. We really have no way in this space to indicate that. We will try to do it on our web site... '
Customer JGK has identified two labeling errors - the music for tracks 271 and 272 are switched, so he switches the files in the player.
Customer Roberto Arboleda Z pointed out two errors on track 220 at marks 2:13 and 4:11 (blips, I guess).
With 16 customer reviews so far, there are 14 reviewers giving 5 stars and two giving 3 stars, the latter including the hearing of two 'errors' heard on one track and one wish for mp3 bit rates higher than 320.
Stephen M. Lerch, a Vine Voice reviewer wrote that he couldn't hear "a single issue with the compression used on this set," adding that "the vast majority of the tracks sound amazing" and that 'some' tracks with sound that is "a little muddy" probaby owe that to the source.
From customer Mark E. Stenroos,
' This is yet another GREAT bargain from Vanguard that simply defies belief. There are many really fine recordings in this set that - while not pure gold - are at least shiny, and are worth a helluvalot more than 99¢.
You get COMPLETE recordings of the Water Music, Alexander's Feast, Judas Maccabeus, Messiah, Saul and a host of other Handel standards. Incredible! '
At any rate you can preview any of the tracks before spending the $0.99.
Mp3 albums are, at this point, not generally available outside the U.S. though.
MP3 pages at Amazon
For those looking for something else and who've not been to the Amazon mp3 pages before, here's the page of MP3 Songs, with categories listed and previews available.
As ever, mp3's bought from Amazon are given free storage in the Cloud so they're playable at any time from any computer or mobile device and can also be downloaded to to play from your computer, tablet, or phone. Here's an explanation of Cloud Player.
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