Half an hour of classical listening a week, how does that sound as a new year’s resolution? I hope these Cathy Lists will help. Do follow them on the Spotify page for regular updates.
I wanted to launch the list with something hectic and busy, to capture that sense of back-to-work bustle. And what better than a piece marked to be played ‘as fast as possible’ by Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti? Dainty, shining threads of music woven intricately together with the occasional generous splash of colour to surprise. Typical Baroque traits.
Notice I didn’t start with the Renaissance track this time. You’ll see why.
It’s time for our first Classical symphony of the Cathy lists, or at least the first movement (there are usually four). This is one of Mozart’s last three great symphonies, no. 40. It’s dark and urgent, and this recording on period instruments brings out the raw emotion of it. I did a podcast on this one if you want to hear more: here on Sinfini Music.
Next something which manages to be both Romantic and Modern. Prokofiev’s strutting knights from his ballet, Romeo and Juliet. If you need music to prance to (perhaps in private), this tops the list.
John Adams’ modern classic, ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine’, which does what it says on the tin. It’s a great example of Adams’ take on minimalism: textured, brilliantly orchestrated but still based on principles of a regular pulse (listen to that wood block ticking away), and small units repeated and layered to create a large structure. Epic, American brass writing in the final third.
Taking the foot off the gas now to finish with a soothing song by John Dowland, a Renaissance composer who excelled at melancholic ballads. This version is sung by a countertenor (man singing falsetto), which gives it an uncanny glow.