Frankly, this month's Instant Replay is a bit more of a grab-bag than most. And that's what makes it great! A little of this, a little of that -- here's the music we love right now.
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!
Jussi Björling -- Puccini: La bohème: Act I, 'Che gelida manina'
I love the tenderness in Jussi Björling’s voice as he begins this aria. It’s a moment of discovery in Puccini’s La Bohème: love at first sight, expressed in the music, if not in words. Rodolfo has just encountered his new neighbor, Mimi, who has lost her key on the stairs outside his apartment. As they look for it together, their hands happen to touch – and that does it. He’s smitten! But all he can think to say is “Your tiny hand is frozen – let me warm it for you.” The Swedish tenor’s voice is the one I associate with this piece, and it always gives me a thrill. And the sound is fabulous even though it was recorded in “glorious” mono in the 1950’s.
Yolanda Kondonassis, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Ward Stare -- Higdon: Harp Concerto: II. Joy Ride
Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto won Best Contemporary Classical Composition at this year’s GRAMMY Awards, and I wanted to become more familiar with it. It’s a fascinating listen, at times peaceful, others charged, but all around an engrossing piece, which I hope to feature in March on Out of the Box.
Benjamin Grosvenor -- Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55: 2. Le gibet
February is perfect for two things: getting lost in transportive musical landscapes and poetry. Now, if you’re in the mood for both simultaneously, good news: Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit does just that. He picks three poems by Aloysius Bertrand, and, with his unmatched musical palette, whisks us away to three incredibly surreal and haunting worlds.
Forma Antiqva -- Vitali: Partite sopra diverse sonate per il violone: Toccata - Bergamasca
Alison Roman’s “The Stew” is an absolutely perfect dish that the internet collectively lost its mind over; here at WCRB have “La Bergamasca,”a tune over which we all collectively lose our minds. This is by far my favorite interpretation of it. I want to live in the vast open space Daniel Zapico creates with his theorbo in the toccata, and the Zapico brothers’ rendition of the bergamasca makes me smile from ear to ear.
Fleetwood Mac -- Monday Morning
When I was home for the holidays in December, my parents remembered that they had a bunch of vinyl from the '70s, and so of course I went through the collection to grab some records to bring back to Boston with me. Number one on my list: Fleetwood Mac. This song has been stuck in my head for more than a month now.
Paul O'Dette -- de Rippe: Fantasie XIX
I can’t seem to get this recent WCRB CD of the Week out of my mind. If you ever need “head space” in the cold and confining days of February, Renaissance lute music will get you there. Paul O’Dette (one of the Artistic Directors of the Boston Early Music Festival) plays the music of Albert de Rippe. The Italian lutenist/composer was considered a trailblazer in his time: whereas other composers used 3-part counterpoint, de Rippe used 5- and 6-part. The result: music by which to stare out the window peacefully at falling snow...
Reed Jones, "Cats" 1983 Broadway Cast -- Webber: Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat
Andrew Lloyd Webber really shot himself in the foot when he took the best show he's ever written and euthanized it on the silver screen. The only saving grace of CATS (2019) was Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, and the only thing better than 2019 Skimbleshanks is 1983 Skimbleshanks. Please, spend a moment with Skimbleshanks. He'll be stuck in your head for the next ten years.
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons -- Shostakovich: Festive Overture, Op. 96
I’ve been something of a passenger on the Boston Symphony – Shostakovich juggernaut for the last few years through our weekly BSO broadcasts, and that’s led to some really rewarding discoveries and a new appreciation for the composer’s devastating insights and expression. But along the way, there’s music that’s just unadulterated fun, like this piece.
Listen to the full cumulative playlist here: