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Presto streaming service is live

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 Hugh
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 Jen
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Excellent to now have this as a new streaming option.  It looks very promising. I’m intrigued to find out how broad the catalogue is, and how easy it is to search…


   
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 Hugh
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The catalogue seems pretty comprehensive.  Not surprisingly, there are no Hyperion albums. Otherwise, so far, I've found nearly everything I've searched for, albeit that the search results can include surprisingly spurious results. (For example,a search for "bach cantata 4" throws up among the first 10 hits 2 versions of the Christmas oratorio, the Fauré requiem, a Herreweghe album with just 2 tracks from BWV 4, some organ works, Brahms Symphony no 4, and some Stokowski transcriptions.)  Sadly, there is no sign of The Erlkings. On the plus side, I was encouraged to find that my test search for a fairly obscure item ("shirley-quirk silent noon") led me straight to the relevant album.
 
The collection also includes jazz. It looks as if other categories of music are only included if there is a connection, albeit tenuous, with the classical (or jazz) world. For example a search for "west side story" lists numerous albums by classical and jazz singers which include songs from the musical, but the only complete albums are the unsatisfactory one with Carreras, etc. conducted by Bernstein and an album from the Spielberg film. A search for "flanders swann" lists compilation albums including, for example, Bryn Terfel singing about glorious mud and Ian Wallace about a wart hog. There are many albums containing Beatles songs but nothing actually performed by The Beatles.
 
The display of information about each album is similar to what is shown on the Presto website and therefore much better than on Apple Music. Track lists and the "now playing" display show the full title and performers and timing for each track,
 
Another good feature is that it's possible to get at complete lists of works by individual composers. So, for example, just as on the prestomusic website, I can easily reach a very long list of "all works" by Haydn and choose just the one Baryton trio that I've always wanted to hear! 
 
There are major disappointments:
 
- The "Collection" feature seems to be a just another name for "Favourites". In other words it's just a single collection of albums, artists, labels and articles with no categorisation.
 
- The app doesn't handle individual works as well as I hoped. Although it is possible to search for a work, the results that are listed are albums containing the work. (Primephonic used to list recordings of the work along with the timing of each performance). Also, so far as I can see, it is not possible to ask the app to stop playing at the end of a work. (Given that the Presto website allows works to be purchased as individual items, I find it surprising that the app is not better in this respect.)
 
- I've not seen a "play next" feature
 
- There is no sign of playlists 
 
- perhaps it's not surprising but there is no sign of anything like Maestro or Ludwig.
 

   
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 Jen
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That’s a really helpful review, thanks Hugh!

I’m enjoying exploring Presto Streaming: I’ve found a few (very interesting classical) albums that don’t seem to be on Idagio; it’s great to have all the jazz catalogue too; I really like the page layout; but, agreed, am also finding that search is returning many unexpected results. And there are other aspects of navigation that seem awkward - perhaps they will be refined in time?

My jury’s still out…


   
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 Jen
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Just to add that I’m much liking the ‘Reviews’ (where reviews are available) and ‘Explore’ features.

I mentioned Presto’s Album of the Week on another thread - Isabelle Faust and Les Siècles’ stunning performances of Stravinsky - but there is a repeatable glitch at 2.27 in the capriccio of the Violin Concerto where the sound disappears for the rest of the movement. The same recording on Idagio is fine.

So I’ve contacted Presto to ask about this. I’ve heard their customer service is excellent… it will be interesting to hear their response.


   
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 Hugh
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Any response yet from Presto? I hope they prove that they can respond to and correct this kind of problem quickly. (No glitch on Apple.)


   
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 Jen
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I’m pleased to say that the glitch was corrected yesterday (but no email as yet to let me know).


   
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 Jen
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The more I explore Presto streaming, the more I like it.

Agreed that there are limitations: the lack of playlists; the lack of a means to share albums; a search logic that has a tendency to return too many hits.

But overall I’m delighted, and most of all because the Explore feature generates so many ‘Oh wow!’ moments.  I’m smiling, recalling the past delight of unearthing ‘treasure’ in a CD shop - a piece of music I didn’t know but knew I would like, or a very appealing looking recording of something I did know.  Well, Presto Explore just keeps on revealing treasure 😊

I’m loving the high resolution sound quality, and the beautifully laid-out app, and all the excellent articles (eg the BBC Music and Gramophone Editor’s Choices every month).

And I’m pleased with the customer service too. That album glitch was very promptly resolved, and soon followed by an email to let me know. And I got a very informative response to an enquiry about possible integration of Presto with Yamaha’s Musiccast, Sonos etc, in order to take full advantage of the sound quality. Apparently this is all in the works, along with other improvements too.

It will be so interesting to see the Apple Classical app on March 28. Will I swap over?  Presto has set the bar very high 😊

 

 


   
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 Hugh
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@jen Thank you for reminding me of the "Explore" options. In the "Articles" I hit upon the "4 minute read" about the recent release of Biber Rosary Sonatas by Amandine Beyer and Gli Icogniti. What interesting music, and how interesting to be able to compare it with Andrew Manze's generally more austere (and much slower) version. Isn't streaming wonderful? (Curiously, although this was highlighted by Presto as one of their "Recordings of the Week", it's not highlighted as "Recommended" in their list of recordings of this music. Classical recordings - Search: biber rosary (page 1 of 6) | Presto Music).

I'm glad to hear that you've had prompt and helpful responses from customer service.

As a matter of interest how do you find Presto compares with Idagio?

It will be very interesting to see Apple's upcoming app compares.


   
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 Jen
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Posted by: @hugh

… Biber Rosary Sonatas by Amandine Beyer and Gli Icogniti. What interesting music…

Yes, indeed!  I’m fond of Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr’s reading, but haven’t yet had a chance to listen to this new recording.  I couldn’t resist previewing the Passacaglia, though, and Amandine Beyer’s playing is a delight. 

On the subject of Biber, I wonder if you are familiar with the F minor Requiem?  It’s another extraordinary work.  

Posted by: @hugh

Isn't streaming wonderful?

My thoughts, exactly, almost every day 😊

Posted by: @hugh

As a matter of interest how do you find Presto compares with Idagio?

No analysis, just a telling observation: Idagio (on iOS) has served me well for the last 18 months but in the past month I’ve barely used it. Presto has won me over.  There’s going to be some big decisions, though, next month!

 


   
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 Jen
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Here’s a useful update on Presto’s plans for the near (and not so near) future:

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/articles/5217--announcement-our-streaming-journey-part-1

Looks promising 😊


   
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@jen Thanks for linking to this article. I really like the idea of the playlists they mention. I'd also like to see a desktop app; right now, it's pretty cumbersome to use the service through the browser.


   
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