I’ve been asked to write a few words about Classical Connect by the site’s owner, Sergey Zaks.
The web is filling up with social networking sites and classical music portals; Classical Connect is a new attempt to bridge the two. It’s an ambitious goal, certainly, and only time will tell how well it succeeds, but here are some thoughts on how the site looks and feels now.
CC’s biggest strength at the moment lies on the ‘classical music portal’ side of things. The site hosts a huge database of musical recordings, which are available to stream directly from the site, LastFM style. Many of these recordings are sourced from visitors to the site, who can become members of the CC community and upload recordings of their own. This is a nice twist that will hopefully lead to plenty of unexplored repertoire entering the database and some exposure for these artists.
For me, however, the greatest boon is the addition of musician’s or publisher’s notes to many of the tracks (some sourced from the commercial recordings), as well as the option to add user comments. This adds a whole new dimension to the listening experience that is absent from so many online sources of music. For a good example, John Ferguson’s notes on his performance of Cage’s 59 1/2″ for violin.
As well as uploading their recordings, musicians are invited to join the CC community through forums and messageboards. These haven’t yet taken off, unfortunately, as they could become a useful site for musical debate.
Contemporary music, as on so many other, similar, sites, is not especially well represented. There’s some Cage, Carter, Ligeti, MacMillan, even one piece of Zorn. The nicest surprise I’ve found, however, is this briskly swinging performance (again involving John Ferguson) of Feldman’s Piece for Four Pianos.