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 - "Hellas, a suite of Ancient Greece" by John Foulds
This particular favourite of mine is something of a hidden gem. The name John Foulds doesn't appear much in today's musical scene, which is a pity because I believe him to be a very talented composer. He led a very interesting life, which includes running away from home at the age of thirteen, meeting Anton Bruckner in Vienna and playing in the legendary Hallé orchestra with Hans Richter, and travelling India with his wife exploring blends of Eastern and Western musical styles.
Hellas is an intriguing piece - scored for double string orchestra with percussion and harp, it is in six movements describing various aspects of ancient Greece. In this recording, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Barry Wordsworth are playing the second movement entitled "Processional".
No.2 - "Tundra", by Ola Gjeilo
This piece transports me to a place of calm, and its simplicity makes it all the better. According to the composer, it is a musical description of the Ardangervidda plateau between Bergen and Oslo, Norway. He says "the area is quite barren and intensely beautiful. It is easy to feel that you are treading on sacred land...". The lyrics to this piece were written by the lyricist Charles Anthony Silvestri, a most fine poet who has collaborated with many composers around the world.
In this recording, the piece is performed by the Tenebrae choir with Ola Gjeilo at the piano, and Thomas Gould, Ciaran McCabe, Jon Thorne and Matthew Sharpe playing the string quartet parts.