These past weeks Gabriella has been waking up during the witching hour looking for comfort, a bottle, or both and while I don’t mind being wakeful when my body wants rest it can take a toll after awhile. To keep myself steady I’ve been loading up more and more classical music, oddly split between Baroque and Modern with one Jazz album tossed in to keep things off balance. Now, like most things I’m into, I don’t profess to have deep or even cursory knowledge about the subject. I just know what I like.
Gorecki: Symphony No 3 / Three Olden Style Pieces. Damn. I’ve mentioned this album before and it still stands as being one of my favorite pieces to date. Huge cathedrals of sound, aching melodies, and a glacial pace all conspire to create a feeling of wholeness and longing. Perfect for when you need to still your heart after being ripped from sleep by the chilling screams of a one year old looking for a bottle and a diaper change (a resounding endorsement if you ask me).
Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians was one of those “Hmmm, I’ll give it a shot” discoveries that seem to dominate my music purchases. I picked it up around the time as Gorecki and it instantly became one of my preferred late night albums. Reich layers rhythm and harmony like a painter might for texture or a baker for taste and in this composition those layers work together thos generate these long waves of melody that take minutes to unfold and reveal themselves. This is not to say that the music is a series of ponderous standing waves rather it is a breathless construction of rhythm that for me evokes long breezes coursing through tall summer grass.
Tehillim & The Desert Music is another album of Reich compositions that I picked up this past month. The first half of the album features great interplay between vocalists and percussion that possesses a sort of tribal feel that tickles the more reptilian parts of my brain while the latter half features compositions that sound much like the precursor to Music for 18 Musicians. In that regard the album is a little inconsistent if you are listening from beginning to end but each section is fantastic in its own right.
Biber: Soldiers, Gypsies, Farmers and a Night Watchman sees the playlist go for Baroque (…..really, I couldn’t let that slide). Biber is one of my favorite composers from this period as his work is impassioned and raw while making great use of folk traditions of Europe at the time which in many of the pieces leaves his work sounding some 200 years before its time. The attraction here is that the song cycle feels like a tour through a city contemporary to his time from raucous markets and back alleys to the closing of the city gates when all is beginning to lay down for the night.
J.S. Bach on the Lute is a collection of solo pieces performed by Paul Berget. There isn’t much I can say other than Bach is a giant and his work, for me, nearly always satisfies. Now I have always been a sucker for the lute and for the longest time I had wanted to purchase one and try to teach myself but life’s little conspiracies have kept me from it thus far. Berget’s work is a great substitution and it makes a very relaxing and enchanting listen when you are watching the clock round the corner to dawn.
Postcards From Gypsyland is the curveball of the bunch in that it doesn’t lend itself to meditative exercises nor does it possess the more somnolent qualities of the prior albums. Rather it is a toe tapping and feisty collection of Gypsy Jazz that is the perfect for washing the sand out of one’s eyes when their child is up and ready to run around. Think of it as the aural equivalent of Red Bull but without the rot gut. It is a fantastic collection evocative of an era that might have never existed but in romantic writings of people who might wish that it truly was happening and that they were there soul and body.