Saturday, 18 February 2012

Redesigned Website

Currently I am working on redesigning the Website of the Virtual Philharmonic Orchestra. Most of the work has now been done, but there are a few more things to complete.

The main change is that the streaming of the audio (MP3 files) which I host on my site, is now done through HTML5 and its <audio> tag, as explained here on my other blog. This allows playing the files on any current browser, without the user having to install a plugin. Also, this method gives me a better control of the access: I can implement access counters which keep track of how often an MP3 file is played, and I can provide authorized access to files which are otherwise protected. One general problem is that the web server where the site is hosted, is not really suitable for large volume streaming; therefore I did have to limit the access of many files, so as not to cause too much bandwidth allocation.

I also cleaned up the layout to make it easier to navigate. The main feature of this layout is that it is also mobile-friendly: all the content adapts to a smaller size (try this out by re-sizing the browser window, and you see what I mean), as it is based on flexible and floating <DIV>s (blocks of HTML parts which have a variable size and can arrange themselves to fit on the screen). The site now includes links to Wikipedia for composers and music pieces on the site. Social networking links are now provided, allowing a more active user feedback and engagement. Music recordings are now called "tracks", in accordance with the usual lingo in the music publishing industry. When available on commercial online music distributors, the direct links to those sites are provided. On Spotify, streaming is for free. iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby allow download of the tracks and albums for a fee. My music is also on many more online distributors, which would be too many to list.

Still missing in the site re-organisation are pages with the albums, the videos, and my own compositions. These will be done as soon as I find more time. Furthermore, not all of the individual music tracks do yet have their full own page - but this will also be completed soon.

I hope that you enjoy this new site layout with all the new features!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Slow Mahler - Out of Context

The last two years, 2010 and 2011, have seen many performances and new recordings of the Symphonies by Gustav Mahler, due to the fact, that in 2010 his 150th birthday was celebrated, and in 2011 the 100th anniversary of his death was commemorated. Since these symphonies are among the music that I cherish most, I felt compelled to contribute with my own recordings, which, as always, are renditions of the complete orchestral scores by using computer-controlled sampled instruments. My first album release of a complete Mahler Symphony happened on 7.July 2010: his Symphony #1 which I subtitled as "From the Life of a Lonely One" ("Aus dem Leben eines Einsamen"), the original subtitle of Jean Paul's novel "Titan" which was Mahler's inspiration for this Symphony #1. Most often, the Symphony #1 is titled "Titan", but I think that the longer subtitle much better reflects the mood and musical content. The complete symphony is available on iTunes.

But since that release of this symphony in 2010 I had not been able to commit time to complete the rendition of another symphony. These works are just too gigantic. But I did have time to work on a few new individual movements from his symphonies, and I reworked some of the previous recordings which I had created. All of these were slow movements, because of a simple and trivial reason: I can get them done faster, because they contain not so many notes. Even the last movement of Symphony #9 was quite quickly recorded. What took longer was to shape the expression until it sounded acceptable to me. And then in September 2011 I decided to combine these into a new "temporary" album: "SLOW MAHLER - OUT OF CONTEXT". I am fully aware that these movements normally need the context of a whole symphony, and taking them out of this context may not be the most sensible thing to do. But I put them together under the common theme of slowness: they show the development of musical expressiveness, from the "Blumine" in Symphony #1 through the emotional rollercoaster of the 4th movement of Symphony #4, to the final resting in the Finale of Symphony #9. And therefore, this album does show a certain cohesiveness.

I plan of course to complete all symphonies eventually, and work is currently done on creating a rendition of Symphonies #2 and #4 - but this may take a while. In the meantime I invite you to enjoy the album that I have created for you. It is here on iTunes at the address:
or on Amazon UK: