Monday, May 21, 2012

The Music of Galicia

Cristina Pato

I made this playlist to highlight the strong Celtic influence in the music of Galicia in northwestern Spain:

In addition to the twenty-one selections featured in the playlist, this is a good bonus:

The song is also the last track on Santiago, an album in which The Chieftains performed with musicians from Galicia, among my favorite of their collaborations. The first face you see when you start the video is that of Paddy Moloney, playing the uilleann pipes - just so you know who he is.

Here's hoping you enjoy this music and learn more about the culture of this region!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bohuslav Martinů: Symphony No. 4

Here is the Prague Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiři Bělohlávek in 1979, performing Martinů's Symphony No. 4. This is one of my favorite symphonies, always a pleasure to hear. Overall it's lighthearted stuff, but the second movement is killer. And the finale, I listen to that a whole lot. Krzysztof Szatrawski's blog has some good detail to share - click here. I don't have a copy of this hard-to-find recording, but luckily, here are the four movements of the performance on YouTube - click click:
  1. Poco moderato
  2. Allegro vivo - moderato
  3. Largo
  4. Poco allegro
Bělohlávek has recorded Martinů's symphonies several times since, as well as just about everything else. He's a solid conductor, just like Vaclav Neumann.

Martinů is fantastic. Almost everything I've heard so far has been one excellent surprise after another. He's often a great concerto writer, especially for the cello and also the piano. He also wrote plenty of music for voice, chamber ensembles... a whole bunch of stuff in all different forms, loaded with melodic energy. 

Big fan here.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Leoš Janáček

If you're wondering what church music written by an atheist sounds like, listen to the Glagolitic Mass. Whatever your take is on spiritual matters, I hope you'll give it a listen. Leoš Janáček made a masterpiece - this ranks high on my Blockbusters of Western Civilization list. The text is in Old Church Slavonic, which you can learn more about here. I included a translation. The orchestration, solo, and choral writing are unique. I can't think of a single thing to compare this to, except the wild organ solo toward the end sounds like like the soundtrack of a vampire movie. The concluding Intrada section is pure adrenaline. Bizarre and absolutely incredible stuff.

Those of you familiar with "Knife Edge" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer will immediately recognize the opening fanfare of Sinfonietta, another awesome piece of music. Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra do an even better job than Simon Rattle on both these works... plenty of energy, fine acoustics. I still want to hear Mackerras.

I forget on which blog I found this, but mediafire is a quick download. And have I mentioned yet? This is currently out of circulation. MP3 versions of the recordings by Rattle and Mackerras you can find on Amazon.

Download here (no password):