I have just finished another wonderful month with Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder and have embedded videos of four pieces of music that were covered in the book for the month of August. With each piece I have included a quote from Year of Wonder with hopes that anyone reading this blog will be inspired to purchase the book and dedicate themselves to listening to one piece of classical music every day for the next year.
For those who have already begun the journey, I have also embedded a Spotify playlist for September’s recommendations from Burton-Hill’s book.
J.S. Bach, Partita No. 1 in B-flat major, BWV 825, “Allemande”
“It might seem a bit irreverent to describe the mighty J. S. Bach as a ‘palate cleanser’, but among the many services into which I have pressed his music over the years (commute companion, grief counsellor, baby wrangler, and so on) the role of life-clarifier and head-clearer is right up there. Whenever I’m stuck, whenever I need to quiet my ranging mind, whenever I require what I imagine is the sonic equivalent of yoga or meditation, it’s to this sort of music I turn, and submit myself, and go still, and recover.”
Audrey Abela, piano
Anton Bruckner, Locus iste
“This three-minute motet makes a strong case for the argument that there is little more powerful in music—or indeed, in life—than the sound of intertwining human voices.”
UniversitätasChor München, conducted by Johannes Kleinjung
Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Second Movement
“This is the sort of unashamedly wonderful piece that some classical music critics pride themselves on deriding—for being, I don’t know, ‘cheesy’ or ‘populist’.… Being universally loved does not detract from the concerto’s genius. Quite the opposite.”
Hélène Grimaud (piano) with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado
Leonard Bernstein, “Somewhere” from West Side Story
“Bernstein, together with his lyricist Stephen Sondheim, takes the simplest yet most gut-wrenching of scenarios—not now, my love, but someday, somewhere, we well be able to be together— and enshrines it in music that is so direct and relatable it just takes you apart.”
Cynthia Erivo with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gianandrea Noseda