Saturday, 23 August 2014

DG Classical Music App

DG Discovery Classical Music App

German classical music label Deutsche Grammophon has just launched an iOS (Apple) app called DG Discovery and it's amazing.

Culled from the DG website:
"The app presents a curated selection of 450 albums in high quality audio streams by 80 star artists from the label’s peerless roster and represents all the famous composers..."

The video below provides a good overview of the app:

There is no substitute for trying the app for yourself. While there is a charge of 3.99 USD per month / 35.99 USD per annum, it is possible to sample the app for free, with tracks limited to 30 seconds.

The main features of the app, according to the DG website, include:
  • Access to more than 450 albums 
  • New music added monthly 
  • Browsing by artist and composer 
  • Original album liner notes 
  • Meticulous attention to detail of information 
  • Photo galleries and slideshows
I tried the iPad app. I found the design of the app to be slick and intuitive. The graphics and album covers are generously spaced and clear. It is possible to enlarge the CD covers to full screen. I would personally also welcome the back covers, however these are missing currently and I guess would largely appeal to more advanced listeners who have an interest in recording dates and these sort of details.

All the expected DG artists are features, including amongst others: Martha Argerich, Claudio Abbado, Roberto Alagna, Daniel Barenboim, Kathleen Battle, Leonard Bernstein (as performer but not composer), Pierre Boulez, Placido Domingo, Gustavo Dudamel, Emerson String Quartet, John Eliot Gardiner, Helene Grimaud, Hagen Quartet, Hilary Hahn, Daniel Hope, Herbert von Karajan, Lang Lang, Lorin Maazel, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Anna Netrebko, Itzhak Perlman, Mikhail Pletnev, Mstislav Rostropovich, Rolando Villazon, Yuja Wang and Krystian Zimerman.

The selection of CDs, while extensive at 450 is rather on the conservative / safe side with way too little "20th century" music for my taste. I find the omission of 20th century greats like Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Bartok surprising, while Saint-Saens (born 1835) and Smetana (born 1824) are classified as 20th century.

The DG catalogue is extensive with many amazing recordings. The app makes a good attempt at "curating" this selection, however I would personally like to see a more extensive and broad collection presented. I assume this will be addressed in time with the "monthly addition of new music". As can be expected, the sound quality is excellent.

Overall I find this an impressive app at a reasonable price. While I personally prefer Spotify at 10 Euro per month for unlimited music, Spotify assumes that you know what you are looking for and can be frustrating to navigate. The DG Discovery app will appeal to intermediate level listeners who wish to discover new artists or pieces in an easy to digest format at a reasonable price.

Have you tried the app yet? What do you like / dislike about it? What enhancements would you like to see in future?
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