Monday, 12 January 2015

New Year, New Listening Project

I'm back. Thankfully the music never left.

I'm doing a new listening project and thought I'd write about it here. It's called Pieces I Must Heat at Least Once a Year. Describes itself really.

The first piece I listened to for it was Elgar's Cello Concerto because I heard a little bit of it on the radio and just wanted to listen to it in full. It's a piece I discovered on a whim. I was looking at a sales page on the ABC Shop online and there it was on an album by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. I knew I liked cello concertos and I didn't have much Elgar at the time so I thought, 'why not?'

The disc arrived, I ripped it (I wasn't listening to many CDs at the time) and put it on my mp3 player to listen to at work. So I was sitting at my desk, earphones in, and I hit play. Those first notes knocked me off my perch, then there was that falling phrase ... I was hooked.

The rest of the concerto, to me, is a journey away from and returning to that opening section. I couldn't say much about it to be honest. It's good, very good in fact, but that opening ... blows me away every time.

I think I bought the album the same year as the Classic 100 Music of the 20th Century on ABC Classic FM, so naturally I voted for the concerto among other things. At the time I thought I'd be helping push it up the rankings a bit - my ignorance apparently. It was a clear winner of the whole countdown and hardly in need of my help. I shouldn't have been surprised, it is a remarkable piece of work and that opening phrase does speak loudly of some of the pathos and melancholy of last century.

If you've not heard it, here is what many consider the best rendition of it (first movement anyway) by Jacqueline du Pre. It's amazing just to watch her.

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