Welcome to "What am I listening to?" - a series in which I briefly talk about some of the music that has my attention of my mind at this time.
No.1 - O Nata Lux, by Thomas Tallis
The renaissance era of music always has some great air of mystery for me, which would eventually blend into the steadily more regimented forms coming out of the baroque and classical. This short choral motet by one of the great English renaissance composers is a particular favourite of mine - the mostly homophonic textures combining with the twists and turns of pre-baroque harmony has me transfixed.
This recording was made by the Rodulfus Choir, conducted by Ralph Allwood.
No.2 - "A Time there was...", by Benjamin Britten
I am a Britten enthusiast, and this piece, his last orchestral work, is a gem. I particularly love the last movement - a steadily swinging piece with a setting of the English folksong "Lord Melbourne" (transcribed earlier in the 20th Century by Percy Grainger, who included it in his "Lincolnshire Posy"). It has huge contrasts in timbre, ranging from the plaintive to the tumultuous, before settling on a somewhat foggy kind of "peace" at the end. The whole piece was premiered in the 1975 Aldeburgh festival, a year before the composer's death.
This recording was made by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.