Thursday 22 February 2018

These master collections will guarantee you hours of app-iness

Androids, iPhones, tablets and apps would never have crossed a musical mind when the great scores were being written. Yet these leading-edge contraptions (as they might have been known before the world filled with "devices") offer a wonderful platform (another crazy word) for the enjoyment of all the marvels of music.

A quick search for classical will bring up a screenful of applications. There's everything from straightforward collections of the most obvious to specialist models that home in on the symphonies of Mozart or Beethoven.

If you're a real Wolfgang Amadeus freak, I can think of no better app to have than one that lets you shuffle through the movements of all 41 of his symphonies before you go off to sample the full collection of his concertos. The Beethoven is free, the Mozart apps are €1.59 apiece.

And if you feel like doing your bit for posterity, there's always Classical Music for Babies (it's free). For four five or six-year olds, there's one called Music for Little Mozarts at 79 cents that's aimed a new piano players, firing their interest with games and novelties, featuring Beethoven Bear and Mozart Mouse.

Lest you are under the impression those are the only big names who feature in technology's brave new world, fear not.

In the midst of a veritable field of plenty where classical music collections abound, there's still one that I've possessed since I acquired my first iPhone.

The Classical Music Master Collection, which will set you back €7.99, has proven itself a rich treasure trove. It's by no means absolutely comprehensive. There's precious little Mendelssohn and no Wagner whatsoever (quiet, there, if you said that's no bad thing!), and the selection can err on the esoteric (I'm afraid opera in general gets short shrift, and Haydn's vast output is represented by just one symphony and The Creation) -- but within its 100 hours of music there's plenty to keep you happy.

Just about as much Bach as you could wish for, an abundance of Chopin and Debussy, Handel and Mahler, Schubert and Richard Strauss (though oddly, no Johann in a collection of classical "favourites").

The two great Romantics, Schumann and Brahms, are there, and the Smetana piece that really counts as one of music's most loved -- Vltava, also known as Die Moldau, his sumptuous 12-minute tone poem in praise of the river that flows through Bohemia, his native place.

You also get the best of Rachmaninov's piano music -- his Second and the infinitely rewarding Third Concertos -- and there's the occasional unexpected gem like the little Theme and Variations from Fernando Sor played by one of the 20th Century's greatest guitarists, Andrés Segovia.

Buds in the ears on the rush hour DART or Luas or on the street doesn't have to equate to a techno beat. There's a wealth of history's finest for your device of choice as well.

George Hamilton presents The Hamilton Scores on RTÉ lyric fm from 10.00 each Saturday morning.

ghamilton@independent.ie

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