My choice of pieces (today’s choice – tomorrow it will be quite different) seems to be based on two things. There are pieces that blew me away on first hearing, and continue to do so, and there are pieces that I have greatly enjoyed playing myself, especially with friends.
- Josquin des Prez: El Grillo
This frottola always cheers me up. Sometime around 1500, Josquin and his musicians were getting fed up about not being given a holiday break, so he penned this song about a cricket, who sings without a break all year round!
- Monteverdi: Toccata from L’Orpheo
One of the first things by Monteverdi I ever heard. I never tire of listening to it. Best played on original instruments, in my opinion.
- J.S. Bach: Es ist vollbracht from St John Passion
I could easily have chosen Bach for all 10 pieces! I eventually chose this because of its astonishing change of tempo and mood; one of Bach’s most operatic arias. My favourite recording is by Harnoncourt, using a boy alto, whose sensationally world class voice presumably only had a month or two to live.
- Mozart: Andante from String Quintet in C major K.515
Again, Mozart could have filled all 10 slots in this selection. This extraordinary love duet between violin and viola speaks for itself, bringing the worlds of chamber music and opera together.
- Beethoven: Quartet in C# minor Op.131 Finale
Beethoven at his supreme best. A piece created by a man who by now was completely deaf. Just about every emotion imaginable condensed into 5 minutes.
- Schubert: Quintet in C major Scherzo
This piece would feature in many people’s choice of 10, I’m sure. I picked the Scherzo because it has a curious effect, for me at least. On first hearing the scherzo section, it seems quite optimistic, but when it returns after the tragic trio section, the exact same notes seem to me to convey a totally different mood.
- Mahler: Symphony 5 Adagietto
As a youngster, I really disliked Mahler’s music. It was this symphony that brought me around, and especially this movement, one of the most passionate outpourings of love ever written.
- Janáček: Sinfonietta Final movement
One of the greatest masterpieces of 20th century music. Simply mindblowing. Best enjoyed with the volume turned up to 11!
- Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra. 3rd movement Elegia
Another 20th century masterpiece. I have fond memories of listening to this played beautifully by the Bedfordshire Youth Orchestra on tour to Italy. The audience was distinctly unappreciative, but the local wildlife loved it, joining in with enthusiasm!
- Pink Floyd: Shine on you Crazy Diamond
From the Wish You Were Here album, dedicated to the group’s founder member Sid Barrett, this track starts ever so calmly, until, after quite some time, Gilmour’s four note motive crashes in, and nothing is quite the same, ever again.