Honourable mention: “Ambre” by Nils Frahm

This week’s honourable mention can absolutely replace a sleeping pill, and I’m saying this in the best possible way.

IDAGIO  for: Luke Howard (piano)

“Ambre” by Nils Frahm

3. “In the month of March” by Tōru Takemitsu

In third place we have a song by Tōru Takemitsu, one of the most important Japanese composers and the first one fully recognized in the west. Since I know very little to nothing about Japanese music, I’ve never heard of him until his song In the month of March popped up in the daily recommendations and this discovery is one of the reasons I love doing this project. The song is extremely peaceful, the guitar part is so serene that it induces the listener into a state of tranquillity that is much needed and welcomed after a busy day.

“In the month of March” by Tōru Takemitsu | Shin-ichi Fukuda (guitar)

2. “Romanian Folk Dances” by Béla Bartók

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the second place is taken by the most animated work of this week, Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók, a Hungarian composer who is also renowned for his ethnomusicology activity. His love for folk music started while on a trip to Transylvania, where he heard a nanny sing a folk song. He was hooked and since then he started to collect folk music from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Wallachia, Algeria and Turkey. Here we have an arrangement based on seven dances from Transylvania, all sparkling of life and vigour. The tunes have a bouncy and speedy rhythm, especially the last two: Romanian Polka and Fast Dance which are my favourites, along with the Stick Dance. They’re perfect for a springy, energetic day.

IDAGIO and Amazon for: dir. Zoltán Kocsis, Hungarian National Philharmonic

“Romanian Folk Dances” by Béla Bartók | dir. Iván Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra

1. “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht”, BWV 118” by J. S. Bach

J. S. Bach has previously occupied first place once with a violin concert, another time with a cello suite and now he’s doing it again with a choral work. O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht is a generic piece for funerals, with lyrics to match the gloomy mood, but with an overall comforting effect.

 O Jesus Christ, light of my   life,
my refuge, my comfort, my reassurance,
on earth I am only a guest
And the burden of sin presses down heavily upon me.

IDAGIO and Amazon for: dir. Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, All Saints Church

“O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht” by J. S. Bach | dir. Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale Gent

Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list of all the works curated by Clemency Burton-Hill in the book “Year of Wonder: Classical music for every day”. To enjoy the full catalogue of pieces proposed by the author along with her comments on the composers and the music itself, feel free to pick up her awesome book here (not affiliated, nor sponsored).

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