April 19, 2010, marked the launch of Passionato, a new destination for classical music connoisseurs on the Web, with an unprecedented catalogue of CD-quality downloads from major and independent labels. Visit Passionato at www.passionato.com.
Passionato is the Web's latest classical-music download site, its aim to thoroughly replicate a "corner record store" experience with a reach far beyond the corner. According to their press release, Passionato offers classical music lovers the largest available collection of CD-quality, DRM-free classical music downloads on the Web. With no subscription, no membership requirements, and nothing to sign-up for, Passionato provides a wide-ranging collection of recordings from major labels (including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Virgin, and EMI Classics) along with numerous independent labels (such as Naxos, Chandos, Telarc, and BIS).
Designed for classical music lovers, Passionato caters to the entire classical music enthusiast community by offering recordings in digital download form, free of digital rights management (DRM) software, transferable to any portable device, and burnable to CD. Downloads will be offered both as high quality 320kbps DRM-free MP3 files and in the CD-quality lossless FLAC format. The Passionato store will also offer an unprecedented level of recording information made up of original editorial content as well as reviews, profiles, and recording information provided by All Music Guide, Oxford University Press, Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, the Penguin Guide, and Fanfare. Of course, vitally important to making sure consumers find the artist and repertoire they are looking for from the vast number of recordings now available, Passionato offers the ability to search their extensive catalogue of recordings using multiple fields and intuitive search functionality.
Though the site offers music in high quality 320-mbps MP3 format, the Passionato store is dedicated to offering customers the easiest and most effective way to experience lossless CD-quality FLAC files from the largest library of such files anywhere, in any genre of music. With unsurpassed sound quality, gapless play, and backwards compatibility (a FLAC file can be used to create an MP3 of any quality for any player), FLAC is the most versatile music format available. Passionato is supporting FLAC because it has become the most widely supported lossless audio codec. Passionato also believes that audiophiles can depend on FLAC for archival-quality digital storage because it is the only open-standards, lossless format unencumbered by patents, and FLAC has been implemented in a wide spectrum of open-source projects.
Opened in a soft-launch phase in February of this year, Passionato has found that FLAC has indeed proven to be the most popular format on the site, representing nearly two-thirds of total sales. Passionato also offers a free player that can play MP3 and FLAC files. Created for Passionato by MediaMonkey, the Passionato Player can play files and arrange a library as well as sync up to devices like iPods and all mobile phones. All MP3 tracks purchased on the Passionato service can also be played and stored on popular music players such as iTunes (and iPod), Windows Media, and Real Player. FLAC files can be played on a variety of players, including the Passionato Player by MediaMonkey. For Mac users, Passionato has asked MacWorld writer Kirk McElhern to create a guide for downloading and converting FLAC files into the Apple Lossless format that can then be played on iTunes and transferred to Apple's music-playing devices, like iPods, iPhones, and iPads.
"Passionato is a classical boutique founded and run by the very audience it aims to serve," says Passionato founder James Glicker. "I wanted to have a place where I could access, search and organize CD-quality downloads of virtually any classical recording available, now about 40,000 and counting, in a way that provides complete information, a comprehensive catalogue, and intuitive search--basically everything the classical collector needs. I believe we have done just that. No other site can offer what Passionato can."
Passionato Partners with Gramophone
Passionato launches with a partnership with Gramophone magazine, one of the preeminent classical music brands. Passionato will be the sole downloading partner for Gramophone. This relationship includes Gramophone and Passionato linking to new and archival reviews on Gramophone.net, as well as reviews found in Gramophone magazine. "Since our first edition in 1923, Gramophone has embraced every technological development that has brought classical music enthusiasts closer to the greatest performances," says Gramophone's Martin Cullingford. "The Internet is the natural extension of that – both through downloading, which offers more music than you could listen to in a lifetime at the click of a button, or by allowing Gramophone to reach an ever-wider audience through news, features, our forum and our digital archive. It's the music itself of course --the artists, the composers, the recordings--that always remains our central focus. Passionato.com--with more than 300,000 classical music tracks from the world's leading labels--draws all this together in a download shop designed for, and by, classical music enthusiasts, which is why we're very happy to be partnering with them." Visit Passionato at www.passionato.com
The People at Passionato
Passionato was founded by James Glicker, an American music industry legend who has worked in all aspects of the business in such diverse posts as first President/CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (where, among other accomplishments, he appointed Marin Alsop as Music Director); President of MusicNow (now part of Napster); and head of worldwide marketing at BMG Classics (now part of Sony Classics).
Rebecca Davis Public Relations
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 more than 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, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
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.
Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.
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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