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Thread: Classical Music Review

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    Default Classical Music Review

    Hey, I'm a beginner listen to classical music. Eventhough this may be sacrilege, I begun reading classical reviews, but they are hard to understand for me. Can someone point me to a magazine or expert web reviews that have either a star or a # rating systems? Thanks so much.

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    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    Well I've never read any classical music magazines or visited any websites that use a star rating system, except Amazon.com, which is actually a good place to read reviews because you get it straight from the people and not from anyone with an agenda or elitist perspective.

    I buy a lot of CD's from the Hyperion label. If you click on some various CDs, you'll see the big time reviewers like BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, The Guardian, Fanfare, and many more. I don't think the BBC Music Magazine or Gramophone have a star rating system, but frankly I don't think they need it.

    You just need to find the right reviews. You're probably reading the ones that make sense only to the musically educated: "The andante's exposition starts in the tonic chord of B and ends with a dominant G with a cadenza of expressivo quality and many shades of pianissimo." Are you talking about that kind of stuff? I hate those kinds of reviews. Why can't they just say, "The first few minutes of this Brahms symphony are beautifully introduced, and the grandeur that follows is one of those moments of genius that can only make the listener fall into a sublime state of being." Yes, it's embellished talk, but it would make a lot more sense to the less musically inclined of us. Even for those who understand all the terminology of "codas and D major 6/4 meters that vary the principal theme in cross-rhythms" I think a little more down-to-earth passion for explaining the merits of a composition are more appealing than a cold robotic explanation of the "C major secondo chord allowing entry of the primo clarinet, where the development modulates through D flat major to B flat, and to G major, before the theme returns to its proper key." I mean... yuck. It sounds like the review is a chore rather than an impassioned exploration into what makes the CD great, what's significant about the performances, the interpretation and the appeal to certain classical music lovers. Even historical background is far more interesting than knowing that the scherzo movement is in 2/4 time.

    So I feel for you and suggest that you stay away from those kinds of reviews. Look to Hyperion or Naxos or even Amazon to find realistic and accessible reviews.

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    Junior Member G e o r g e's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yuanhou View Post
    Hey, I'm a beginner listen to classical music. Eventhough this may be sacrilege, I begun reading classical reviews, but they are hard to understand for me. Can someone point me to a magazine or expert web reviews that have either a star or a # rating systems? Thanks so much.
    I used reviews when I got started and still use them today. My favorite guidebook is called the Third Ear Guide to Classical Music, edited by Morin. It has guided me to SO many great recordings that I recommend it whenever I get the chance. Easy to read and understand. Check Amazon.com for a cheap used copy.

    Or...try Classics Today. They are easy to understand, but less consistent, IMO.

    Good Luck!

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    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    I use these two in conjunction with amazon.com

    http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/master/
    http://www.classicstoday.com/search_advanced.asp (This was mentioned by George in the last post)

    One thing I do everytime I read reviews at Amazon is to look at all the non-5stars review first. You want to know what's "bad" about the CD, right? But there are some who'd rate it low just for the heck of it. So watch out.
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    Watch out for Amazon.com reviews. Many times they have sound samples though. They tend to be too generous generally. My favorite source is Fanfare ($60 a year). But they don't and cant review everything. I believe Classicstoday is by paid subscription also now.

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