Since September is “Classical Music month,” I thought it’d be good to spread the news about some of the great classical CDs that are available through KDL, and do that by listing some of the pieces that have become my favorites over the years. I started listening to this music about 35 years ago, going to my hometown (and quite small) library to check out the classical LPs that intrigued me. I’ve never really stopped listening either, though my tastes have broadened to include a number of other genres. The following recommendations are of course purely personal, and if you are a lover of classical music, feel free to add a comment about what you like that I may have left out.
No list could be complete without the works of J.S. Bach, and one of his most beloved and well-known are the Brandenburg Concertos, whose vitality and loveliness never die. I don’t know how one could grow tired of these pieces, but if by chance you did, there are always Bach’s works for keyboard, including those insomniac-inspired pieces for solo piano known as the Goldberg Variations. So much variety in one piece! Moving ahead in time, we come to the many symphonies of Haydn, one of which, “Farewell,” has the musicians leaving one by one at the end of the piece—yes, the Master did have a sense of humor, though he was also sending a message. (You’ll have to look it up.) Beethoven is probably the most well known of the composers on this list, and of all his symphonies, I’ve always loved the 6th the most. Also known as the Pastoral, its lyricism and emotion always get me. (You may recall its use in the Disney feature Fantasia.) While we’re on symphonies (and the 19th century), Dvorak, who actually lived in the Midwest for part of his life, wrote a wonderful (and justly well-known) symphony inspired by the United States, its people and its music. Popularly known as “From the New World,” it is well worth seeking out. Dvorak’s string quartets are also a must-listen. Heading to France, there’s Claude Debussy, whose series of piano pieces called simply “Images,” despite their “modern” sound, have delighted with their dreamy, poetic compositions. Finally—and to show that classical is not dead—I wanted to mention Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3. Though written in 1976, this piece is not the dissonant, difficult work you might expect from that era. Instead, Gorecki gives us an incredibly moving work with some singing parts by the great Dawn Upshaw.
This is just a sampling, of course, of what’s out there, and if I had more space, I’d write about many more. And don’t forget to check out Freegal, available for KDL cardholders, that has a number of classical pieces available for downloading that might not be available on CD.
Posted by: David