This month, a selection of tracks bringing us hope, comfort, and sanity, as we all adapt to a changing world.
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!
Julien Martineau, Vanessa Bennelli Mosell -- Murphy: A Fifth of Beethoven
I was going through some new CDs we’d received and thoroughly enjoying some lovely music for mandolin and piano, and then the last track on the CD came on and I actually laughed out loud. I didn’t turn it off, though. It made me grin from ear to ear for what felt like the first time in weeks. I hope this funky disco-mandolin-Beethoven weirdness can bring a smile to your face, too.
Danish String Quartet -- Shine You No More
I ran across this great reddit thread chatting about “beat drops” in classical music - and it got me thinking about Shine You No More from the Danish String Quartet again. The ending is electric, and jumps out of this quiet, slow build - it’s a great reminder that even when things have to quiet, stop or reset for a while, liveliness and vibrancy aren’t lost. They’re just waiting.
Pascal Rogé -- Satie: Gnossienne No. 5
I try to start every weekend morning with French piano music; Debussy and Satie are the usual suspects. Tyler’s recent blog post about Satie’s Gymnopédies reminded me how refreshing they are, even though I have them floating through the apartment all the time. Now, if you’re a fan of that set of works, good news for you – there’s a cousin set of pieces called the Gnossiennes, which are as fluid and hypnotic, but a little more experimental. I’ll start you off with the most palatable, but if you want to float away to some strange, wonderful places, check out all six (or, is it seven? I guess Tyler was right about numbers!) of them – especially the first.
The Moody Blues -- Candle of Life
I have found I am turning to music I've forgotten I used to listen to, a little track here and there from many many albums, from the Beatles to old Broadway musical cast albums to my father's beloved opera collection. And then I remembered an album the older and cooler teenage brothers and sisters of my friends would listen to: The Moody Blues "To Our Children's Children's Children." I went hunting and just bought an old vinyl copy. Two tracks are being worn out: Gypsy of a Strange and Distant Time and Candle of Life. The lyrics say so much to me...probably more now than they would have if I were one of those cool teenagers back then.
Véronique Gens -- Canteloube: Chants d'Auvergne, Vol. 1: No. 2, Bailero
It’s hard to imagine what music-making is going to be like when things start to open up again: Will orchestras be able to play? Will we get better at making group videos? Or will we just be leaning out our windows, belting out a call-and-response song with our neighbors? That latter idea reminded me of a hauntingly beautiful folksong from a mountainous area in south-central France – one of the the Songs of the Auvergne, arranged by Joseph Canteloube. Some of them are meant to be sung in the out-of-doors – like this one – Bailero. Picture a mountainous landscape with a shepherd and a shepherdess, singing across a stream that divides them. And Véronique Gens sings it meltingly. I don’t think our urban serenades will match this standard, but…we can dream!
Die 12 Cellisten der Berliner Philharmoniker -- Mendelssohn: Trio and Double Quartet from Elijah
Along with anyone else who loves going to concerts, I’m finding that memories of particular performances appear in my head almost uncontrollably. And one of my all-time concert highs was at the Lucerne Festival in 2012, when the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic played a concert that included this. Even before hearing them live I loved the recording and would play it over and over. Now it’s layered with that exquisite experience.
Moisés Nieto -- Shimomura: Xion (From "Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days")
This is a gorgeous cover of a standout track from my favorite video game series of all time. I come back to Kingdom Hearts like it's a big, warm blanket anytime I feel stressed. As important as it is to seek joy in difficult times, letting all the feelings out when things get overwhelming is just as valuable - and trust me when I say this haunting piano melody is perfect for a big, cathartic cry.
The Oh Hellos -- I Have Made Mistakes
Two years ago, I went with my best friends to see The Oh Hellos in a tiny concert venue packed with people who knew every word to every song they played, something that feels unimaginable now. When the band started playing I Have Made Mistakes, it was as if the whole room lost its breath, every note spun out and suspended between us. I'll never forget it, and I find myself thinking about that moment often these days. Anyway, this song is great. I love it and I hope you do too.
Listen to the full playlist here: