This is not gong to end well.
Think of every piece of music, every song you have heard in the course of your life and then try and pick eight of them that you would take to a desert island and live with for the rest of your life.
Tough isn’t it ?.
But, in the furtherance of science…or something like that, here are eight pieces of music I couldn’t live without!
Beethoven -Symphony No 6 “Pastoral”
This was played at Mums funeral. It was also played at a friends funeral a few years ago and, when I’m in a pensive mood it’s one of those pieces that is, I think, best listened to alone where you can let the melodies wash over you and let the emotional response come forth. It’s extraordinarily beautiful and I can understand the attraction it holds for so many people. I adore it.
Sky – Toccata
Anyone remember Sky ?. I do. Until they experimented with vocals instead of sticking to instrumentals they were one of my favourite groups and this version of the Bach classic was the highlight track that not only made it to No 2 in the charts (when the charts were big and meant something) but made them famous. The talents of John Williams (surely the most technically accomplished classical guitarist ever ?), Herbie Flowers, Tristan Fry, Francis Monkman and the late lamented Kevin Peek (how he ruined his life was an utter tragedy) combined in a sweeping, soaring, rocking tune of dazzling musicianship and a cracking tune!.
Mozart – Piano Concerto No 27
In truth this is one of several Mozart concertos I could have chosen. I love them all but his last, this one, is especially fine and full of memorable tunes. As with most classical pieces there are many options to choose from but I always return to one by that most masterful of Russian pianists, Emil Gilels, so that is the one I would take.
The Michael Schenker Group – Looking for Love
When I hit my early teens I discovered the world of heavy metal (dumbest term ever) and, although I do have a guitar (skill level…err…none ?) the guitar hero I had growing up was Michael Schenker. In truth he’s probably the unsung guitar hero of many. Gibson Flying V in black and white, the black leather jacket, blue jeans, blond hair; he just looked like a rock god was supposed to look. Immensely talented and with a keen ear for melody over showmanship he wrote some cracking rock tunes. This is one of them.
Henselt- Piano Concerto
I’m very fond of piano music. I have great admiration for anyone who can play an instrument and we are fortunate to live in an age of so many wonderful pianists. The likes of Stephen Hough, Steven Osborne, Andreas Schiff, Maria Joao Pires and Martha Argerich are extraordinary in both their technical prowess but also the emotion they bring to pieces both old and new. But of them all, my “hero” is the Canadian Maestro, Marc-Andre Hamelin. He is perhaps less known for playing popular pieces but rather for bringing to the fore often technically fiendish repertoire which has faded from memory. Every challenge is met with bravado and colossal technique. The Henselt Concerto is full of life, wonderful tunes and playing of the highest order.
Howard Shore/James Galway – The Grey Havens (Lord of the Rings)
There are many evocative pieces in the soundtrack to this extraordinary trilogy. Many pieces that inspire, delight and move me. I suppose I could have cheated and had the entire soundtrack but the piece I’ve chosen is, I think, just lovely. It conjures up the scene perfectly, the end, the journey being over yet a new one beginning, a lament to a friendship that must end through circumstance but with notes that hint of a brighter future for all even if their paths are different. James Galways flute is simply achingly beautiful here. A wonderful piece.
Saint-Saens- Violin Concerto No 3
We are also fortunate that we live in an age of extraordinary violinists. Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Gideon Kramer, Joshua Bell amongst many others. I recall watching on Tv, with enormous delight, masterclasses run by the genius Maxim Vengerov whose enthusiasm for his instrument and the music he was playing was utterly absorbing. But in my collection I have a live recording of Saint Saens 3, with the Israeli Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta accompanying another dazzling talent in Julian Rachlin. And it’s utterly amazing. The Concerto is bright and bubbly, it zips along and has a heart melting slow movement before the third brings us to a rousing conclusion. Rachlins performance is exquisite. He is a master of the instrument and the fact it’s live only adds to the excitement.
Enya- Orinoco Flow
This one is for Mum. She introduced me to Enya after Terry Wogan had introduced mum. I wasn’t sure on first hearing but she just grew on me. I’m not sure this is a favourite as, again, I have many, but it’s where it all started. It’s mood music. It’s very carefully crafted and it shouldn’t be forgotten that Enya is really just the front person of a talented triumverate including Nicky and Roma Ryan who produce and write the lyrics. It’s music for all days, all moods. It’s beautiful, reflective, melodic; easy listening probably, ideal background music for revising or reading. Mum always bemoaned the fact it took so long between albums. Unfortunately she died two or three months before the last Enya album was released but I know how much she loved Enya so it’s only right that I include a piece here. This is for Mum.
And that’s it. Eight pieces of music I love. There are thousands more of course and if you ask me tomorrow I’ll probably have thought of something new to add.
There’s nothing by Rush, my favourite band for instance. Or Abba. I could have had eight Abba songs quite easily. Jean-Michel Jarre (another Mum favourite), Mike Oldfield “Portsmouth” isn’t there. There’s no Dream Theater, Fifth Angel, Disturbed (Their cover version of “Sound of Silence” is awesome) or Toto. There’s no Scarlatti, Haydn, Litolff, Medtner, Weber or Grieg. The list is endless.
But today that’s my list.
I’ll put my iPod on later and realise I’ve missed out another piece. That’s just the way it goes.
Perhaps I’ve introduced you to something new here, perhaps I’ve picqued an interest ?.
What would your choices be ??.