Instant Replay: 033
It's the beginning of a brand new year. So how about some brand new music recommendations to go with it? Here's the music we have on repeat this January.
Swedish Chamber Orchestra — Gruber: Manhattan Broadcasts: II. Radio City
The BSO recently featured a work by the fantastically inventive Austrian composer, singer and percussionist H.K. Gruber, so I thought I’d share a piece of his that’ll have you tapping your toes. It’s “Radio City” from a suite called Manhattan Broadcasts. HK Gruber has done a lot to promote the music of Kurt Weill in the past several years (Weill’s famous for “Mack the Knife,” among other things), and you can hear some of the pungent harmonies of Weill in this piece. I love it!
Sebastien Llinares — Satie: Je te veux
January has a fascinating duality: there’s the exciting momentum that comes with starting a new year countered by standstill nostalgia that winter weather seems to bring. You’re going to need a good soundtrack either way, whether it’s for a peace-of-mind break or to accompany snowfall. That’s Satie’s wheelhouse! His songs are honest, lyrical things – they’re warm and delicate, and are the perfect gateways into classical music for new listeners. Guitarist Sébastien Llinares recorded what’s become one of my favorite classical albums, and this tune by Satie is just the ticket. Check out the whole album! Santé!
Mitski — Working for the Knife
"When, oh when, is Mitski going to release a new album?" is a question I've asked myself many, many times since obsessing over "Be the Cowboy" when it came out in 2018. Well, my friends, this is the year, and "Working for the Knife" is the song. While I wait on tenterhooks for her album drop, I've been playing this on loop, and it feels particularly apt as we're entering the third year of a pandemic with no real end in sight. Maybe that sounds dark (sorry?), but Mitski gets it, and "Working for the Knife" is wonderfully cathartic.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet — Marienelli: Pride & Prejudice Suite: The Living Sculptures of Pemberley
Dario Marienelli’s music for the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice is hands down one of my favorite soundtracks ever (perhaps tied with the Cold Mountain soundtrack). And so when I saw that Jean-Yves Thibaudet - who played on the original soundtrack - had reprised his performance on his newest album "Carte Blanche" with a piano-only suite from the film, I knew immediately what my instant replay selection for the month would be. I hope you let the sweeping romanticism of Marienelli’s notes and Thibaudet’s playing drift you away for a few minutes, the way it does for me every time I listen.
(Ed.: Thibaudet discusses this album — and "The Living Sculptures of Pemberley" — in an interview with Cathy Fuller, linked above.)
Nick Drake — Things Behind The Sun
Weekend morning, gray sky, cooking up a complicated breakfast, coffee in progress – too early for the high-energy stuff I normally listen to. Ideal vibe: acoustic, but with no brass and no banjos. (Beirut is out of the question. Fleet Foxes, too percussive. Andrew Bird, too twee. Wrong mood.) Already played through two José González albums. What to listen to? Nick Drake, clearly. The album “Pink Moon” has been the soundtrack of my weekend mornings lately. “Things Behind the Sun” captivates me. And by now, the coffee is ready, thank goodness.
Agave Baroque, Reginald L. Mobley — Hutchison: Dream Faces
Whenever the GRAMMYs are rescheduled this year, I'll be following the Classical ceremony — not only because CRB's Antonio Oliart Ros is nominated as a producer in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category for Augustin Hadelich's great Bach album (recorded right here in Fraser Performance Studio!), but I'll also be rooting for this album from the inquisitive and protean ensemble Agave Baroque, my pick for Best Classical Compendium. It's a great mix of composers, styles and instrumentations, headlined by the sweet and familiar voice of Reginald Mobley and the inventive guitar work of Kevin Cooper. The guitar-only "Sweet Memories of Thee" deserves a mention, but for me, "Dream Faces" is the nostalgic ear-worm here, perfect for a slow, rainy January afternoon.
John McLaughin, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas — The Mediterranean Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra
I didn't know John McLaughlin's 1980's composition, "The Mediterranean" Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra, until I heard it on WCRB a couple of years ago. So glad I listen to this station! Up to that point I associated him mostly with jazz, and even rock, so it's probably not a surprise to hear that he not only recorded himself playing it, he improvised on his own piece! He wrote this piece in the style of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, another favorite of mine. The first two movements have a definite Spanish flair, while the last movement is more of a blend of Mediterranean styles. I have always loved pieces of music that transport us elsewhere — there's nothing like a "mind vacation" when actual travel is challenging.
Listen to the full playlist: