Instant Replay: 034
Revelatory new recordings, cozy nostalgic favorites, and pieces that remind us to live in the "here and now" are all on our playlist for February. Listen with us!
The Cambridge Singers — Stanford: The blue bird
There are certain pieces of choral music that cast a spell on me, and Charles V. Stanford’s “The blue bird” is one of them. Singing it recently in a choral group, I was reminded of the hush that goes over an audience when they hear it. The text is by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, and Stanford highlights the word “blue” with a high soprano note that is cool and beautiful:
The lake lay blue below the hill.
O'er it, as I looked, there flew
Across the waters, cold and still,
A bird whose wings were palest blue.
The sky above was blue at last,
The sky beneath me blue in blue.
A moment, ere the bird had passed,
It caught his image as he flew.
Ivan Moravec — Chopin: Nocturne in E Flat, Op. 9, No. 2
A New Year’s resolution I took up was to be less affected by what I call the “weather forecast effect” – when instead of embracing the warm reprieve the next few days prospectively bring, I’m focused on that one cold day way off in the future. It applies to lots of areas of life, and it isn’t actually about weather per se; it’s just what I call the phenomenon. What it really comes down to is being present-minded, rather than over-planning the future. For me, Chopin’s Nocturnes are the invariable soundtrack that (kindly) force me to conjure up an oasis of a “here and now,” present-focused moment. This one’s my favorite.
Punch Brothers — Another New World
One of our newest on-air hosts, Eileen Little, sent me this song a few weeks ago because she thought I might like it, and boy-howdy was she correct! Haven't stopped listening to it since. "Another New World" tells the tale of an explorer who takes one final trip to see if he can't discover something new up at the North Pole, only to end up stuck and losing his ship, the Annabelle Lee. The playing is top notch, the atmosphere is transportive, and lyrics are incredible... it's simply fantastic. Thanks Eileen!
Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin — Price: Symphony No. 3 in C minor: II. Andante ma non troppo
The Florence Price renaissance reached a new high point with this release last fall. The rich, lustrous sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra takes already beautiful musical lines and textures and makes them utterly hypnotic, shaped with exquisite care and sensitivity by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Take a seat in a comfortable chair with a good view out the window, hit play, and give over nine minutes of your life to the unique voice this music brings you.
Ludovico Einaudi — Luminous
When contemporary Italian composer/pianist Ludovico Einaudi announced last year that he was going to be releasing his first album in 20 years, in January '22, I started the daily search. It was released officially on January 21st and I was thrilled to find it and add it to my collection right away. Underwater contains 12 new piano tracks. I've only had a couple of weeks to start taking it all in... but I found an early favorite, titled "Luminous."
Catalyst Quartet — Price: String Quartet in G Major: I. Allegro
I’ve been listening to the Catalyst Quartet’s new Florence Price album this week (just released, on February 4!) and the track that stops me in my tracks every time I hear it is the first movement of her String Quartet in G. Back in September this was also my Instant Replay pick, and I lamented that there were no commercially-available recordings of this piece yet. I am SO excited to share this album with our listeners – it has two string quartets, two piano quartets, and a handful of her Folksongs in Counterpoint. Four of the pieces are world premiere recordings. The Catalyst Quartet and pianist Michelle Cann are phenomenal here. It’s such a delight to listen to.
Joe Hisaishi — A Walk in the Skies
I’ve been really into Studio Ghibli movies and soft rain sounds lately — anything to create a warm little comfort zone in our bleak wintery landscape. Last week, I watched Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time since I was eight, and I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat ever since. I think you’ll find it warming your heart, too!
Taylor Swift — The Very First Night (Taylor's Version)
For the entire month of January, I basically only listened to Taylor Swift. For some reason, it was like a switch flipped in my brain, and suddenly no other music existed. I've always known her songs were good, but I never really got it until now. This one, in particular, hits that perfect pop song sweet spot, with high energy, charming lyrics, and a melody that sticks in your head.
Listen to the full playlist: