Despite having done six chart reviews so far, I don’t feel like I have told you what music I really love. Through performing in orchestras, wind bands and a folk rock band, I have been exposed to so much music that my tastes are very varied and slightly odd. I own none of the links that I have provided, they have all been taken from YouTube.
Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony – I have played many symphonies with various orchestras, but this one is by far my favourite. This symphony has an interesting story surrounding it. After Stalin hated his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the Soviet regime denounced the composer. The Fifth Symphony saved both Shostakovich’s career and probably his life. However, while on the outside it sounds as if the symphony glorifies the regime, the inner workings and subtext show Shostakovich’s true opinions of Stalin. The third movement is especially beautiful, as you can just feel the pain in the music of a composer repressed both politically and artistically. It also has some great moments for the oboe, which is another added bonus. You can listen to it here.
The Cimarosa Oboe Concerto – This was the first oboe concerto I ever learned all the way through, and it is still my favourite. It has its tricky moments, but also has some great tunes and is excellently written for the instrument. I have played this for multiple exams and recitals and I will be playing it again this term. You can listen to this piece here.
Shaker Loops by John Adams – Last year, I did a research project on John Adams, an American post-minimalist composer, and Shaker Loops was one of the pieces I studied. I have since fallen completely in love with it. I get very annoyed when people call all minimalist music boring, because Shaker Loops is anything but. The first movement just keeps building in inte.nsity as each bar progresses and the third does something similar but manages to sound completely fresh. Listen to it here.
Howard Shore’s score to The Lord of the Rings – My sister and I grew up with The Lord of the Rings films and books. They are so much a part of my life still that I have a Middle Earth map both in Cardiff and Oxford! Howard Shore’s score for the film is in my opinion one of the best film scores of all time. It has a huge number of themes, and the development of each of them as the story progresses is very clever. Different singers and instruments refer to different characters and cultures in Middle Earth, giving the score an extra level of depth. Here is a link to one of my favourite pieces from the score, The King of the Golden Hall.
Y Bardd Anfarwol by The Gentle Good – If I said Welsh language, Chinese inspired-folk music, many people would immediately be skeptical. But this album is really great. The fusion of Celtic and Chinese folk works surprisingly well, and Welsh is such a beautiful sung language. It is really nice to just put this album on, chill with a good book and let the words and music wash over you. This is my one of favourite tracks from the album, Yr Wylan Fry.
Florence and the Machine – Florence and the Machine are my favourite band. I love how they fuse orchestral techniques with standard indie rock, like when they use a harp instead of a guitar on tracks like Cosmic Love. Their best song in my opinion is either Hardest of Hearts or Which Witch, two tracks which I would call near perfection. Saying that though, even the songs of theirs that I am not a huge fan of, I can still find positives in them.
I hope that has given you a small insight into my quite varied music tastes. I will do another post at some point on my guilty pleasures, which are far more embarrassing.