Cedille Records, Chicago's Grammy Award-winning independent classical record label, has begun selling CD-quality digital downloads of its albums as of April 20 via its Web site, http://www.cedillerecords.org.
The downloads, utilizing the FLAC audio format, are priced at $10 or less per album.
The FLAC format, which stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, yields compressed sound files with all of the data--and audio fidelity--of the original compact disc, compared to "lossy" compression methods such as MP3.
According to the FLAC Web site (http://flac.sourceforge.net), "this is similar to how Zip works, except with FLAC you will get much better compression because it is designed specifically for audio."
Cedille's new CD-quality downloads are 16-bit, 44.1 kHz FLAC files.
FLAC files can be imported and played directly on a variety of hardware and software media players, such as Winamp for Windows or VLC for Mac. Some players, such as Windows Media Player and Apple's iTunes, require plug-ins to play FLAC files. But FLAC files can always be converted back into original uncompressed .wav files, using free and widely available transcoding software, and played in any media player.
In addition to the new FLAC downloads, Cedille continues to offer all albums in its catalog as unusually high-quality MP3 downloads at twice the bit rate of those sold on most other download sites--256 kbps (kilobits per second) versus the industry standard 128 kbps.
Visitors to Cedille's Web site don't have to download an album at all to get the accompanying CD booklet. They can download a free PDF of the booklet via the CD's Web page before deciding whether to buy the recording.
Cedille (pronounced say-DEE), which embarked on its 20th anniversary season in November, has been selling MP3 album downloads directly to the public from its Web site since May 2008.
Cedille features world-class musicians in and from the Chicago area. The label's catalog has 116 principal CD titles ranging from solo keyboard works to complete symphonies and operas. These include world-premiere recordings and CD premieres of important compositions, plus the commercial recording debuts of some celebrated artists.
The label's newest release is the recording debut of Baroque Band, Chicago's new and highly acclaimed period-instrument ensemble, in works by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Arriving later this month is The Balkan Project, the label's second album with the Cavatina Duo (flutist Eugenia Moliner and guitarist Denis Azabagic). May will bring the world-premiere recording of Beethoven's recently discovered Piano Trio in E-flat, Hess 47, with the Beethoven Project Trio, which gave the world-premiere performance last year in Chicago.
Nathan J. Silverman PR
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer
For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.
For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, as of right now it comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio High Current preamplifier, AVA FET Valve 550hc or Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst
I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio
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