Twenty Essential Albums for Me Today

There have been a lot of people on Facebook recently sharing albums that shaped them when they were teenagers, which is quite interesting. I thought I’d also like to share my current ‘Top Twenty’ – in alphabetical order by artist surname, with the proviso that I will not let myself pick more than one album per artist. These albums are by the artists I currently play the most and consider essential to my musical well-being and inspiration.

  1. Nicola Benedetti: ‘Vaughan Williams/Taverner’
  2. Billy Bragg: ‘Tooth and Nail’
  3. Anne Briggs: ‘A Collection’
  4. Matthew Byrne: ‘Hearts and Heroes’
  5. Martin Carthy: ‘Martin Carthy’
  6. Bruce Cockburn: ‘Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws’
  7. Maria Dunn: ‘Gathering’
  8. James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters & Lucy Ward: ‘The Liberty to Choose: A Selection of Songs from the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’
  9. Genticorum: ‘La Bibournoise’
  10. Nic Jones: ‘Penguin Eggs’
  11. Choir of King’s College Cambridge/Philip Ledger: ‘Orlando Gibbons: Tudor Church Music’
  12. Mark Knopfler: ‘The Ragpicker’s Dream’
  13. London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis: ‘Handel’s Messiah’
  14. Maddy Prior: ‘Seven for Old England’
  15. Jean Ritchie & Doc Watson: ‘At Folk City’
  16. Red Tail Ring: ‘Mountain Shout’
  17. Stan Rogers: ‘Northwest Passage’
  18. Kate Rusby: ‘Ten’
  19. Martin Simpson: ‘Kind Letters’
  20. Sting: ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’

Anyone else like to share their top twenty?

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Ferdinand Hérold: Symphony #2

I heard this piece for the first time at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton on Wednesday night, in a program of French composers who were completely unknown to me. This was the last piece on the program and I found it very enjoyable, especially the last movement which reminds me at times of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.

The program notes from Wednesday night give the following info about Hérold:

Ferdinand Hérold (1791-1833)… From a long line of musicians, Hérold’s father had been a pupil of C.P.E. Bach, and Ferdinand had studied with Méhul. After winning the Prix de Rome in 1812, Hérold studied music in Italy, and his operatic compositional career really got started when Boieldieu asked the young composer to write part of a privately commissioned opera – beginning a steady stream of both operas and ballet scores by Hérold. He wrote only two symphonies, and Symphony No. 2 was written as part of his requirement for winning the Prix de Rome – laureates were expected to write such works to demonstrate their progress as composers. In fact, both symphonies were written during his time in Italy, the second in 1815. (notes by D.T. Baker)

The Trumpet Shall Sound

I’m a little unorthodox, I guess, but this is my favourite piece from Handel’s Messiah.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

(1 Corinthians 15:51-53)