What am I listening to? February 2017


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 - Asturiana, by Manuel de Falla

It is 4pm, and I'm in the library of King Charles Court, Trinity Laban. I am looking at art songs, and I come across this little gem within a series of diamonds. Asturiana is the third of a series of "Seven Popular Songs", arranged by the late 19th/early 20th century Spanish composer, Manuel de Falla. I could have stumbled across any of these folk songs which he masterfully arranged, but Asturiana stands out in my head for its hypnotic and very subdued yet intense manner.

The version of this song that speaks to me the most is this highly unusual version (making this an arrangement of an arrangement!) for Soprano, Harp, Flute, and Viola, by the Dutch quartet "Revue Blanche".

No.2 - Daphnis et Chloé, by Maurice Ravel

In the world of orchestration, Ravel could well be seen as a prophet, advancing the art to its highest form before new ideas from the Serial school and its counter-movements pushed it even further. This Ballet, at nearly an hour long, is Ravel's largest work with his biggest orchestra, and he pulls of nearly every trick he has up his sleeve.

I love this piece with considerable passion. There are so many moments in it that make it stand out for me, from its beginning to its dramatic conclusion. I have recently been lucky enough to sing this work in its entirety in the Rodolfus choir alongside the Philarmonia Voices and Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. (It's also worth noting that at the same concert, they premiered a newly discovered work by Stravinsky! That isn't something one hears every day!)

In this recording of the sunrise scene from the third section, Valery Gergiev conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

No.3 - Confessions, by Nico Muhly and Teitur

The music of Nico Muhly is something of a new discovery, and his most recent Nonesuch release entitled "Confessions" is of great interest to me. This collaboration between him and the multi-talented Faroese musician Teitur Lassen has resulted in a distinctive sound: a baroque ensemble mixed with Nico Muhly's harmonic turn of phrase and Teitur's singing. What also drew me in was the slightly left-field lyrics, which according to Nonesuch records, was "inspired or culled from video and commentary the pair found on YouTube". Who knew that getting lost in the internet would yield such beautiful results?

This track from the album is entitled "Don't I know you from somewhere?". It is played by Holland Baroque, and sung by Teitur.

#music #listening

© John Sturt 2020