I wrote a rave review below for Peter Maxwell Davies' Masses; and here is another rave review, this time for his ground-breaking web site MaxOpus.
The classical record companies have done little to adapt to the digital revolution other than promote young violinists in wet T-shirts. The orchestras have been a little more entrepreneurial in setting up their own labels as the majors such as Universal have imploded under the weight of their own egos, but laudable as LSO Live and the other orchestra owned labels are, they really are no more than a Band-Aid (sorry about the pun) as the industry haemorrhages CD buyers and concert audiences. (The trend is illustrated by the fact that two of the three cycles of Bach Cantatas currently being recorded are on artist owned labels after Universal owned DGG and Warner owned Erato pulled the plug on the original corporate backed ventures - John Eliot Gardiner releases his recordings on his own Soli Deo Gloria label, and Ton Koopman on Antoine Marchand; the third is from enterprising Swedish independent BIS and is recorded in Japan).
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
But the real knight's move (puns are really flowing today) comes from our own seventy year-old Master of the Queen's Music Sir Peter Maxwell Davies who has added a beautiful and functional web site to his list of compositions. Frustrated by the lack of exploitation of his compositions, Max has purchased back copyrights, and invested heavily in developing the elegant, simple, and effective MaxOpus web site. The site offers long excerpt streams coupled with a pricing policy based on the length of the download. So a short overture costs half the price of a 40 minute symphony which can be downloaded for around £3. If you are not from the download generation MaxOpus covers all the bases (or should that be basses?) with a custom burning and mailing service for your own selection from Max's opuses.
And the site is about a lot more than music downloads. It includes listings of his works and publishers, scholarly commentaries, biographies and links. It is simply a first class internet resource, and a commercial one to boot. (A quick check shows that the Google page rank for the site is already up to a strong 6/10 which already equals the established LSO Live site). A brilliant concept, with inspired execution. It sounds like my review of Max's Missa Parvula, but I am also referring to his web site MaxOpus. Why can one of our greatest living composers, who for years lived on the Orkney island of Hoy without electricity and with a wind-up gramophone, deliver a service like this when all the highly paid music executives can do is slash and burn their way through the classical archives?