Instant Replay: 038
The first day of summer is a stone's throw away. We're listening to folk songs, orchestral masterpieces, and pieces that call to mind the great outdoors!
Pharrell Williams — Frontin'
You’ve heard of Wordle, but have you heard of… Heardle? The game is simple; it plays one second of a song and you guess what it is, with each wrong guess revealing another second. The other day I got it in one guess and I’ve had Pharrell Williams’s “Frontin’” stuck in my head ever since. Coming back to an old favorite is always fun, and I have no shame in my nostalgic love of whatever was on Top 40 radio in the early 2000s. Fun fact: not only was this song Pharrell’s debut, it features a bass line from Stevie Wonder, and was initially written for Prince.
Jamie Cullum — Photograph
I'll be honest: I haven't been listening to much music in my hours away from CRB. Instead, I've been deeply immersed in audio books, namely the 14 books of the Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. But when that fantasy world becomes too much, I've been enjoying some throwbacks to my high school days, with music like this lovely, nostalgic, jazz-pop fusion song by Jamie Cullum.
Rosie Tucker — Arrow
I’ve been obsessed with this cover of Jeffrey Lewis’s “Arrow” for weeks now. Rosie Tucker’s own unique brand of brilliant weirdness takes this track to a completely different level. The way the song builds on a constant string of words before descending into controlled chaos is just so satisfying. It’s a four-minute long alien abduction fever dream that perfectly encapsulates the weird blur of reality that happens when you’ve stayed up way past your bedtime.
Zoltán Fejérvári — Schumann: Waldszenen, Op. 82: No. 3, Einsame Blumen
This time of year, I really rekindle my connection with nature – that entails lots of long walks, but I like to connect especially so in an abstract, non-literal way. Lots of composers, myself included as a songwriter, found themselves creating profound semi-fictional philosophy-driven music inspired by Mother Nature – it’s almost like non-fictional surrealism. Schumann was no different, and in his Forest Scenes, a collection of nine short pieces, he weaves us through a walk in the woods, beginning with the literal imagery of “Hunters on the Lookout,” eventually melting away into the dreamlike “Bird as Prophet.” It’s a trip, try it out; here’s “Lonely Flowers.”
Louise Mulcahy — Reels: The Castlebar Traveller / Joe Cooley's Green Mountain
I visit Ireland a couple times a year, coming home with a head full of traditional tunes. The morning after I got back from my most recent trip, I turned to Louise Mulcahy's brilliant album "Tuning the Road" to stave off withdrawal. Her piping and whistle playing is excellent, but her flute playing is really what keeps me coming back. Then again, as a flute player myself, I'm a little biased!
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Cleveland Orchestra —Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
It’s not often (at least in recent years) that two of the world’s top orchestras release recordings of exactly the same music within only a few weeks of each other. And it’s even less often that the music in question is a virtuosic piece that reveals so much about both the conductors and the orchestras themselves. But that’s exactly what’s happened with our own incredible Boston Symphony Orchestra and the brilliant, vaunted Cleveland Orchestra with Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. These two recordings give us a chance to hear each of these amazing ensembles at their absolute best, including Nathaniel Silberschlag, the wunderkind Principal Horn in Cleveland. I’ve heard these the two orchestras live, in concert, more than any others, and I’m not picking a winner. These are two very different performances, but that’s not what it’s about, as far as I’m concerned. I love them both.
Anaïs Mitchell — Real World
Last month, I had a transcendent experience seeing Anaïs Mitchell — singer, songwriter, multi-Tony-Award-winner for her musical Hadestown — live at the Sinclair in Harvard Square. This song was her encore, and while the recorded version is pretty melancholy, she sang and played it with a tangible sweetness and joy that had me grinning beneath my KN95.
Marc-André Hamelin — C.P.E. Bach: Sonatas and Rondos
(not available on Spotify)
I've been a big fan of internationally-renowned pianist Marc-André Hamelin for years and was thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed for one of my blog posts last September. You can image how excited I was to hear his newest album, "C.P.E. Bach Sonatas and Rondos." C.P.E. Bach was one of the leading composers bridging the harpsichord-to-piano era, and Mr. Hamelin not only plays the notes masterfully, he plays the joy. And that sure is welcome these days.
Hear this month's playlist, and find the full cumulative playlist here.