Instant Replay: 032
The last Instant Replay of 2021 has us feeling reflective: about the music we loved this year, the songs we're playing to set the mood this season, and the tunes we're taking into 2022.
[This album is not available on Spotify.]
Boston Ballet Orchestra — Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
This year, just like last, I'm staying close to home for Christmas — music-wise as well. Although I've seen Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker performed by a few major companies around the U.S., my favorite is Boston Ballet's, which I've seen too many times to count, and my favorite CD of the ballet is the Boston Ballet Orchestra conducted by Jonathan McPhee. Pretty sure Maestro McPhee instructed the orchestra to play "with joy," because that comes through every note. And that, after all, is what the season promises.
Lorelei Ensemble — Gilbert: Tsukimi: No. 4, Nageke tote
Chris recently described some music as “dark, brooding, candle-lit, where has all the light gone” music, and for some reason that got me onto a Lorelei Ensemble kick. Their 2018 album “Impermanence” is immersive, with resonances between the singers’ voices that give you chills. The Anonymous tracks bring me back to singing Palestrina in college (but we never sounded this good), the Takemitsu transport me to other planets, the Gilbert are delightfully weird. Throughout it all, Lorelei Ensemble delivers with impeccable precision. Shoutout to Emily Marvosh, who is seemingly everywhere in the Boston music scene, including as a foundational member of this group.
Randall Goosby, Xavier Dubois Foley — Foley: Shelter Island
Randall Goosby’s recent debut album is a stunner, and well worth listening to in its entirety, both for the repertoire choices and Goosby’s ringing and forthright tone. But there’s a reason this piece is first on the album, and you could be forgiven for putting it on repeat.
Patrick Aprea — Baby Holds a Heart
Now that winter’s here for a bit, it’s time to start daydreaming about the next summer road trip. No endurance drive is complete without a setlist of what I call “highway songs.” You know the ones — those light rock songs with just a little bit of country twang, to accompany driving an antique convertible towards an auburn sunset. Nashville-based Pat Aprea has just the answer for that in his 2015 album Latest Hits. The opening track is the summer whisper we need this time of year – and his blues influence isn’t half bad for a Boston kid!
Eric Whitacre Singers — Whitacre: A Boy And A Girl
When it starts getting darker, and candle and firelight take on an extra significance against the gloom, I find myself gravitating toward choral music, and the gnarlier and tighter the harmonies the better. A Boy and a Girl is certainly that — if "gnarly" may be used to describe staggering beauty. Jaw-dropping dissonances, impossibly pristine singing, and a text setting that will break your heart, this short choral masterpiece is a must listen as we come to the solstice. Happy Holidays and a Merry New Year!
Hadestown Original Broadway Cast — Way Down Hadestown
I jumped on some last-minute tickets to Hadestown when it was at the Boston Opera House last month, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I found it positively transcendent. Regardless of whether you're into musicals, you should give this one a shot - it's basically the title track of the show, and it gives you a great idea of the show's Greek Mythology vibes mixed with New Orleans jazz & folk.
BTS — Butter
Every year, I look forward to Spotify's "year in music" roundup with anticipation and dread in equal measure. There's something remarkably telling about seeing all the music you listened to over the year laid out into a few shareable categories, with no indicators as to context or mood or what was going on that had you listening to that song on repeat for three days straight back in May. But it was no surprise to me that my top song of the year was a bouncy, unapologetically bright mega-hit from mega-popular Korean group BTS: it's been a strange and difficult year, and this song is 2 minutes and 44 seconds of pure joy.
Listen to the complete playlist: