While I was compiling my happiness playlist over the first 50 days since public musical life stopped, I became very conscious of how narrow my listening habits are. Half the pieces I chose were written after 1900, and eleven were baroque (dominated by Bach and Handel). There were also a lot of Russians. And to my shame, Joni Mitchell was the only woman on the list. Now admittedly, this was a list that drew heavily on pieces that have been with me for a long time, but that’s a poor excuse. Sometimes I aimlessly drift around suggestions on streaming services, looking for something new, but I end up feeling so overwhelmed that I circle back to the same pieces again and again. So while I’m at home with no concerts and no rehearsals, this seems like a good opportunity to sit down and listen properly to new pieces, and because writing about something helps me to stick at it (resolutions are always stronger when shared), I’ll be sharing my thoughts here, in a format that is loosely inspired by the Guardian’s ‘Blind date’ column.
For each piece of music, I’ll answer the same set of questions, ending with ‘ buy, stream or drop’, depending on whether I immediately love it, might enjoy listening again occasionally, or won’t bother listening to again. My husband said it’s basically a musical ‘snog, marry, avoid’.
My choices will be fairly random, and may involve a certain degree of shame and bravery as I confess to what I don’t know, so please don’t judge me! I will avoid baroque and renaissance music and anything by Brahms unless somehing crops up that I really feel is a yawning gap. My choice of listening and of recordings will be guided by Presto Classical who give excellent summaries of reviews and awards, and by what’s available on Idagio which is my current classical streaming service of choice (I do intend to do a blog post about them at some point).
My first piece is Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 3, the Pastoral, coming soon.