Massenet’s Méditation from Thaïs is one of the most beautiful pieces ever composed. Even if you don’t recognize the title, it’s likely you’ve heard it in a movie or commercial – it recently appeared on the soundtrack to Liberal Arts. You can download a recording featuring Scottish violinist Nicola Benedett and French pianist Julien Quentin at the Gardner Museum Music Library.
Benedetti was also featured on a recent Tiny Desk Concert, performing the theme from Schindler’s List and the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin. I also love her version of Spiegel Im Spiegel.
Richard Strauss’ exhilarating symphonic tone poem, An Alpine Symphony, transports you along on a climb to the top of the Alps. It’s an often overlooked masterpiece and you can download it free thanks to Deutsche Welle. It was difficult to find credit, but I believe this recording is by Kent Nagano with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester.
I am very excited to learn that Beethoven’s revolutionary Symphony No. 3: Eroica will be tackled by Grant Cooper and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra next year. This thunderous work is as exciting as any Rock music. It was also the subject of one of my favorite movies — I think it fitting that Ian Hart has played both Beethoven and John Lennon. You can stream or download 53 minutes of awesomeness conducted by Kurt Masur with the National Orchestra of France here (mp3 download page). If you prefer to go through iTunes, this link includes Symphonies 3 and 5.
I have loved this music, particularly the adagio, since hearing it in a movie in the mid-90s. Clarinetist Umesh Shankar has generously made Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto available in its entirety for free download along with many other works. There are two versions, the second seems to have less background noise…
A Native American-Jazz Tribute is the new album by Pamela Sklar. Inspired by Native American music, world, classical and jazz, this improvised chamber music for mixed instruments features flute, piccolo, alto flute and bass flute. The album is a beautiful showcase of Native American flute melodies blended with jazz rhythms.
The West Virginia Symphony will present Anton Bruckner’s triumphant Symphony No. 8 on March 1st and 2nd. To whet your appetite, I found the following performance from Berlin’s Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester.
David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich have recorded a subtle but spectacular album of Schubert’s Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6. This album is so beautiful, elegent and serene that I’ve left it on repeat in my car stereo for over a month, enjoying the listening experience far too much to properly review it. Strangely, I wasn’t immediately captivated by the album. Yet it quickly grew from pretty background music to a comforting presence and is now, in my view, a gorgeous, beloved recording.