Category Archives: Classical

Julia Kent – Overlook (2011)

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Julia Kent is a Canadian cellist and composer. In 2011, she released the gothic Green and Grey. It features the soothing, dark and epic sound of ‘Overlook’. Have a great weekend.

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Mozart – Lacrimosa (1791)

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It is a day of remembrance. On the face of it, Requiem in D minor, K. 626 is another of Mozart’s masses, but it’s very notable in its meaning. Wolfgang Amadeus died before he completed the work, and according to his widow, he came to believe that he was writing the requiem for his own funeral. Some may find the context and sound unsettling, but I find the final part, ‘Lacrimosa’ (“Weeping”), of the third section (‘Sequentia’) curiously alleviating.

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Max Richter – November (2002)

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‘Tis November folks. In 2002, Max Richter released his debut album Memoryhouse. It features the stunning ‘November’. Turn off the lights, turn up the volume and feel the season approaching.

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Camille Saint-Saëns – Marche Héroïque, Op. 34 (1870)

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It’s my middle daughter’s birthday today. This a piece that she played at her most recent national children’s orchestra concert. ‘Marche Héroïque’ preceded the first of Camille Saint-Saëns’ symphonic poems. He wrote it as a celebratory homage to his friend the composer, Henri Regnault. Regnault was killed in the Franco-Prussian war.

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Edvard Grieg – Solveig’s Song (1875)

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Composed by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875, Peer Gynt was written as the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play of the same name. In Act IV, he featured the moving ‘Solveig’s Song’ (Solveigs sang). R.I.P. Gaby.

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Hauschka – Craco (2014)

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The Lucani ghost town of Craco provides a fitting title for track 7 on Volker Bertelmann’s (aka Hauschka) 2014 album Abandoned City. It’s classical acoustic piano with a touch of post rock about it.

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Camille Saint-Saëns – The Cygne (1886)

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A cultured, calming start to the week… Le Carnaval Des Animaux is a suite of fourteen movements by the composer Camille Saint-Saëns. When I was young, it was the accessible side of classical for family listening, like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and the pervasive compilation series, Hooked on Classics. It was a toss up between the string quartet of the 7th movement ‘Aquarium’ and the cellos of the 13th, ‘The Cygne’. The Swan wins, of course. Have a great week.

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GoGo Penguin – Hopopono (2014)

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Hailing from Manchester, Chris Illingworth, Nick Blacka and Rob Turner are GoGo Penguin. They create an ambient sound that is full of infectious piano melodies and rhythmic break beats. ‘Hopopono’ is the last track on their critically-acclaimed sophomore album, v2.0. Have a great weekend.

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William Walton – Crown Imperial (1937)

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William Walton

‘Crown Imperial’ is an orchestral march by the English composer William Walton. This weekend, my daughter played it along with the rest of the National Children’s Orchestra in the wonderful setting of Hever Castle. The piece was was first performed at the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and is forever associated with the Crown. It’s clearly got the Pomp and Circumstance. Happy Birthday Ma’am.

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Philip Glass – Metamorphosis One (1989)

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Philip Glass

Inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Philip Glass composed and performed an oeuvre of piano music in 1988 that he then pressed and released as his Solo Piano album a year later. The opening track ‘Metamorphosis One’ drifts in and out of superlatives.

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Ennio Morricone – Gabriel’s Oboe (1986)

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Ennio Morricone 1986

Ennio Morricone was awarded an Oscar for The Hateful Eight last month. Perhaps the lack of competition warranted it, but the 6,000 voting members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences get their selections wrong so regularly that they have their own built-in save face – the Honorary Oscar. Before he received his in 2006 for “magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”, Morricone had been obscenely overlooked for 1984’s Once Upon a Time in America and 1986’s The Mission. I select the latter’s ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ as a glimpse of what heaven must sound like.

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Nils Frahm – Re (2012)

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Nils Frahm

Piano player, composer and producer, Nils Frahm is based in Berlin. Like any self respecting Berliner, he is known for experimenting with electronic music. Frahm’s take is to combine classical and synthesised keyboard sounds. In 2011, his unconventional approach took a turn for the different due to a run-in with a bunk bed. That nocturnal event gave him a broken thumb and the time to practice with 9 fingers and less keys. The stripped back sound is what you hear on his 2012 long player Screws. ‘Re’ is the third track on the album and provides us with today’s Wednesday interlude.

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Daniel Licht – Blood Theme (2006)

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Daniel Licht

Having cut his teeth on soundtracks for horror movies, Daniel Licht is best known for the eerie score that he composed for the TV show Dexter. ‘Blood theme’ and its uneasy string arrangement accompanies the credits of most episodes.

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Fryderyk Chopin – Nocturne Op. 9 n. 2 (1830)

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Fryderyk Chopin

Perhaps the strings interlude used by Roy Harper; perhaps the change of the seasons; perhaps because the clocks have fallen back. I’m not sure, but I’m in the mood for some nocturnal classical. Chopin’s ‘Notturno In Mi Bemolle Maggiore Op. 9 n. 2’ is a dreamy melody that inspires the mind to wander. For example, I’ve just thought that many things sound better in Italian (and in E flat major). Frédéric Chopin wrote this piece in his early twenties. Where possible, I have included renditions by Artur Rubinstein, who was universally acknowledged as one of the great Chopin interpreters. Enjoy.

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Astor Piazzolla – Libertango (1974)

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Written and played on bandoneon by an Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla, ‘Libertango’ is tango classic. But I didn’t know that when I first heard the tune as the backdrop to Grace Jones’s ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’ – her spoken journey through a Parisian nightlife. It was the mid 1980s and Jones’ 1981 album Nightclubbing remained an art-dance-pop template. That was many moons ago and I am now more drawn to the source. Those familiar with my blog will know that I am quite taken with the sound of the accordion – my ignorance means that I should really include the concertina, bayan and bandoneon in my broad definition. The latter provides a wonderful accompaniment to Yo-Yo Ma’s cello from his 1997 homage to Ástor Piazzolla.

 

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