Gramophone has recently revived on its website one of the newer old chestnuts. You put iTunes or your iPod or the music player of your choice on shuffle (N.B. with a turntable this is impractical and may necessitate some jumping around) and note the first ten tracks. The result may be supposed to reveal secrets about your inner self that more ordered lists do not, though as far as I’m concerned it’s nothing more than an excuse to show off – in my case, hopefully, to back up the highbrow pretensions I cultivate. The fact that I may have as much Wham! as Stockhausen on my iPod, or more 2Pac than Brian Ferneyhough, or in fact more Jason Donovan than all of them together … well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In any case, as has been documented already, I can’t resist a list. Here we go again.
1. Hymn: Forty days and forty nights (Aus der Tiefe) / Choir of Christ Church, Frome
From a recording of evensong from Sunday 1st March 2009. I’m there somewhere among the basses. Good hymn, good start.
Spotify (Choir of Gloucester Cathedral, David Briggs)
2. Let’s Go Away For Awhile / The Beach Boys
One of the instrumentals from Pet Sounds. Cool.
3. Debussy: La Danse de Puck (from Preludes, Book I) / Krystian Zimerman
I don’t actually own the Zimerman recording of the Preludes in its entirety – this is from a sampler CD for the Philips Great Pianists of the 20th Century series. He takes it a little slow for my liking at the start, but once he gets going the music becomes a perfect embodiment of Puck. Click the icon in the bottom right-hand corner to see the score in all its glory.
4. Mahler: Symphony no. 1 – Langsam, schleppend / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle
Great stuff. This is the ‘Ging heut Morgen übers Feld’ movement. Full of rejoicing in nature.
5. Stanchinsky: Allegro Moderato (No. 1 from Three Sketches) / Daniel Blumenthal
Stanchinsky, like Mieczysław Karłowicz, died young early in the twentieth century, with early promise perhaps not quite fulfilled. The small body of music he left behind, which shows the influence of Scriabin, especially in the longer works, is ripe for rediscovery now.
6. Cage: Sonata V for prepared piano / Yuji Takahashi
I heard the Takahashi recording of the fourth interlude on Radio 3 when I was about 12, and was immediately entranced by the sound of the prepared piano.
7. Evangile selon Jean, Chapitres 1-5 / Ezwa
Yes, an audiobook of John’s Gospel in French. I downloaded it for free from Project Gutenberg a couple of years ago. I suppose I thought it would revive my flagging French. A nice thing to have if you ever want to hear someone talking the language. The female reader identifies herself only as ‘Ezwa’. As there is no album art, I have illustrated it on my iPod with a picture of Robert Powell.
8. Rachmaninov: Mercy and Peace (from Liturgy of St John Chrysostom) / Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury
I can’t claim to know this as well as the Vespers, but there it is.
9. Respighi: Villanella (from Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite no. 1) / Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Neville Marriner
One of my most beloved recordings. The music fills me with joy like little else, though this is one of the more muted movements. I’ve been meaning to write something about Respighi here for months. Watch this space. The video is of the perfectly decent López-Cobos recording on Decca, but the Spotify link will take you to the real thing.
10. Britten: Storm (from Peter Grimes) / Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten
He certainly knew how to conduct his own music, I must say. The rhythmic definition of this performance puts many recent pretenders in the shade.
Well, all fine and dandy. I am pleased the Respighi came up, and the French Bible adds a pleasing air of the esoteric. How about you?