Long summer days mean more hours you could be spending outside, and every outing needs a good playlist, don't you think? Here's what we've been listening to lately -- cool music for hot summer days.
This series highlights our favorite music of the moment – discoveries we’ve made when we’re at home cooking or cleaning, at the office, or out and about. Classical or otherwise, old, new, or just really cool, these are the tracks we’ve had on repeat this month. Find a cumulative playlist at the end of this post. Happy listening!
Thomas Tirino -- Lecuona: Suite Andalucia: Cordoba
It’s been such a rainy and warm start to the summer and something about that makes me want to curl up on the couch and listen to Lecuona’s Suite Andalucia on repeat. The rolling piano is both soft and strong and the melodies are so enchanting - it's hard not to smile while listening.
Third Coast Percussion -- Skidmore: Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities: Take Anything You Want
Whenever an album from Third Coast Percussion crosses my desk I can't pop it into the CD player fast enough. This track, written by a member of the ensemble, has everything: shifting textures a la Philip Glass, a hint of the theme from "Stranger Things," and a gorgeously-mastered sound that overwhelms you. This whole CD is awesome.
Jorge Caballero -- Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: The Old Castle
One of the things that makes classical music a never-ending treasure trove is the re-telling of pieces’ stories through a new instrumentation. Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a favorite of mine, and I was very pleasantly surprised when I came across a solo guitar arrangement of it. Peruvian guitarist Jorge Caballero recorded it as part of an all-Russian album entitled Quadros. If you only have a few minutes, check out the dark lyricism of “The Old Castle."
David Arnold -- "Good Omens" Opening Title
It might sound silly to pick the opening theme to a TV show, but this has absolutely everything I love in it: a bouncy waltz, weird instruments, haunting vocals... it's simultaneously sinister and incredibly goofy. It's an absolute bop - and the TV show is pretty good, too!
Tasmin Archer -- Sleeping Satellite
You'll hear a lot about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this month. 23 years later, in 1992, British songwriter/pop artist Tasmin Archer released "Sleeping Satellite," her reflection as to why neither the U.S. nor any other space exploring country had gone back to the moon. 50 years later we are still asking the question. And I can't get her song out of my head. The organ coming in at approx 2:45 is killer.
Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado -- Hindemith: Mathis der Maler Symphony: II. Grablegung
My commute to and from work consists of an hour on the train and a half hour on the bus, so the name of the game this month is "transportation," which Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic have been doing for me with the second movement of Paul Hindemith's "Mathis der Maler" Symphony. The soft movement and gentle harmonies drown out the (sometimes disturbing) sights and sounds of my daily commute and transport me away from the public transit system to someplace sacred.
Orquestra Sinfónica Simón Bolivar, Gustavo Dudamel -- Arquez: Danzón No. 2
When I need a pick-me-up song to get through a rainy summer day, a little danzón goes a long way. There's something about the rhythms in this piece that adds an infectious energy to it turning it into the boppiest of bops. The energy that radiates from this performance of the danzón is–dare I say–spicier than Shawn Mendes' most recent music video, if you know what I mean. To this day, this particular recording is the only one that has successfully made both my friend and I incoherently shout along to a classical piece at the top of our lungs.
Yoko Shimomura -- Final Fantasy XV Original Soundtrack: NOCTIS
This year I turned 25, and I also played my first serious video game in my quarter-century-long life. This track is the main character's theme from that game. I don't think I've ever heard a piece of music that so perfectly encompasses the mood of a piece of media, especially not one that's so hopeful and bittersweet. While you listen, think about your favorite tragic hero, and you'll see what I mean.
Chamber Choir of Europe, Nicol Matt -- Lauridsen: O magnum mysterium
Morten Lauridsen’s music is something I first fell in love with in college, when the choirs I was in sang the ‘O magnum mysterium’ pretty much whenever and wherever we could (especially in the ethereally reverberant stone stairwells of the campus center). It was so lovely to discover this album, both because it allowed me to reconnect to this favorite piece, but also because it introduced me to some of the other glorious works by Lauridsen that I hadn’t previously known (he even plays piano on a few). I sincerely hope you enjoy playing it on repeat as much as I have.
Ella Fitzgerald -- Have You Met Miss Jones?
A vacation, whether it's a road trip or a week by the lake, needs music. And for me, this week has been enhanced by Ella. I love the "Rodgers and Hart Songbook," and the first track in Ella's collection is "Have you met Miss Jones." She changes it to "Sir Jones," but it still recalls the tingle of love at first sight.
Hear the entire Instant Re-playlist: