Sound of mind – New releases

This is not a regular feature, but I thought it would be good to highlight new albums released today that fall into Arcana’s ‘circle of interest’ – the idea being that listening to them or hopefully even buying them will reward the creators in these difficult times. So, without further ado…

Víkingur Ólafsson releases his much-anticipated third album for DG today. A collection of music for keyboard by Rameau and Debussy, it has the hallmarks of Ólafsson’s meticulous presentation, and – I suspect – his meticulous and intimate approach, which has proved so effective with his albums of Philip Glass Etudes and Bach keyboard music.

Sticking with classical music but moving ever so slightly closer to Hollywood, the Sinfonia of London and John Wilson release their third collaboration on Chandos today. It sees them returning to Korngold, whose Symphony in F sharp major they played so brilliantly to celebrate their rebirth as an orchestra. This time they are taking on the composer’s glitzy Violin Concerto, with soloist Andrew Haveron stepping up from duties as orchestral leader. This is coupled with the substantial String Sextet, a work definitely worth getting to know:

Switching on the power, we arrive at Daniel Avery and his collaboration with Nine Inch NailsAlessandro Cortini, Illusion Of Time. This is an intriguing match that on first listen is a successful blend of electronic soundscapes, with Avery’s wide open perspective and Cortini’s analogue synth sensibilities complementing each other:

It’s great to see Little Dragon back. The Swedish band have changed labels, arriving at Ninja Tune – and their sixth album New Me, Same Us. It finds them rejuvenated and pressing forward, with Yukimi Nagano providing the ever-distinctive vocals.

Moving outside of Europe we come to Tamikrest. I can’t pretend to have a good knowledge of African music, but here is a band I have latched onto for their unique blend of Tuareg music and rock. Their new record Tamotaït has the same thrilling combination of propulsive rhythms and heat-soaked atmosphere:

Finally – if you’re after a good house party for your nearest and dearest – you would do well to consider including some of the new Dua Lipa album! She may not be someone who needs the investment, but you can guarantee good vibes throughout Future Nostalgia, especially when the likes of hit singles Don’t Start Now and Physical are present.

Sound of Mind 10 – Sounds of Spring

If you’ve been indoors for over a week now, the chances are you’ll be climbing the walls!

Happily there are reasons to be cheerful just around the corner – not least the imminent arrival of spring.

Classical music composers have always taken to spring in their music, from Vivaldi through to Stravinsky. This playlist celebrates their portrayals of the season, through works including Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Schumann‘s Spring Symphony, Beethoven, Sibelius and finally Britten.

Have a listen and harness the positive energy our composers can provide!

 

Ben Hogwood

Sound of Mind 9 – Holst: St Paul’s Suite

If you’ve been following Arcana for the last week or so you will have seen the regular posts in the Sound of Mind series, which is aiming to provide some sort of musical comfort for those cooped up at home in these very strange times.

Today’s post is directly inspired by the most recent episode of University Challenge. That is not a sentence I thought I would ever type, but one of the musical questions was a quote from Holst‘s St Paul’s Suite, a wholly underrated work for strings that does not get the exposure it deserves.

Holst very cleverly uses a series of folk tunes and feeds them through the medium of the string orchestra. The four movements are notable for their clever use of these melodies but also their economy of expression and surprisingly deep emotion. The opening Jig sets a bracing, early morning mood, and the following Ostinato, after a silvery start, finds a similar mood.

The emotional heart of the suite is the Intermezzo, flavoured with the sort of Eastern melodic inflections Holst uses so effectively in his music, while the suite wraps up with a Dargason, where interweaving melodies are trumped by a hefty quotation of Greensleeves.

Watch the above performance, from the New York Classical Players, and enjoy!

Ben Hogwood

Playlist – Sound of Mind 8: On camera

With the curfew situation as it is in the UK, we will get to know our home surroundings in minute detail as the days go by!

In that time we are likely to watch a lot more TV than we normally do, so with that in mind, here is a playlist of music associated with the screen – which handily gives us an hour without adverts that will hopefully calm and inspire by turn.

The selection starts with my favourite piece of Thomas Newman, from The Road to Perdition, before taking in music from Clint Eastwood Jr, Hans Zimmer‘s brilliant Interstellar, Daft Punk, Hannah Peel and an excerpt from this year’s Oscar winner, Hildur Guðnadóttir, and her remarkable score for The Joker.

Later on we hear from Angelo Badalamenti‘s Twin Peaks score, Cliff Martinez‘s music for Drive, Brian Eno and finally M83 – whose Outro has played out a good many programs. Hope you enjoy the music!

Ben Hogwood

Playlist – Sound of Mind 7: Strings and things

Here is another playlist for your delectation, in the new age of ‘staying in’.

This one features works for strings of very different character, from the energetic works by John Adams and Tchaikovsky to a more reflective, serene approach from Philip Glass and Sir Edward Elgar. You get an idea here of the versatility of the string orchestra, which can be by turns sombre and bracing.

Enjoy the music!

Ben Hogwood