Free downloads during December

Danish label Dacapo is running an interesting promotion during the month of December. Every day, as part of what they call their Advent Calendar, they’re offering a free download. As they put it “We pick the album – you choose the track”.

There are absolutely no restrictions within those terms, by which I mean that you’re free to choose any single track from the album of the day, irrespective of playing time or download quality. I’ve been busily working my way through the list, and have come across some fascinating music in the process (on only one day was the featured album one I already had). I have to admit to adopting a general policy of getting the best possible free deal, by choosing the longest track and downloading it at the highest available quality (which in some Studio Master cases is twice the quality available on a standard CD).

The album list is updated daily on this web page, where you’ll also find instructions about how to claim the free downloads. As with all download sites (and this is one of the best label-specific ones), you’ll first need to register and create an account.

Fine quartet playing

I stumbled on this video on a musical weblog I’ve recently come across. The blog writer had this to say about it: I have just now discovered the wonders of Benjamin Britten’s string quartet writing, and thought I would share this example as proof in spades that the physical experience of the musicians who are playing a piece can be as important as the musical material itself. In this case, and without the intrusion of any non-functional theatrics, they are pretty much one in the same.

Watch this and wonder at how the interaction between the players adds to the enjoyment (and understanding) of the music. None of your Lang Lang affectation — just instinctive immersion in the music.

The performers are the Coull Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Warwick, England. Their lineup has changed since this video was made. At that time, Roger Coull and Philip Gallaway played violin, Gustav Clarkson was on viola, and the cello was played by Nicholas Roberts (Rose Redgrave is the current violist).

The music? It’s Benjamin Britten’s Divertimento No. 1, March.