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

Playlist – Sound of Mind 6: Celebrating mothers

Today is a celebration of mothers.

My own mother Coralie passed on five years ago, but this is a chance to celebrate her musical influence (which I did in written form here)

Here is a selection of her own favourite music, from Mozart‘s Clarinet Quintet – which she studied at college – through to Sibelius, Spanish guitar music, which she had a real fondness for, and Sir Peter Maxwell DaviesFarewell to Stromness.

I’m sure you’ll agree there is music here to match the blue skies today brings here in the UK – and it offers a chance to celebrate our mothers, too. Happy listening.

Ben Hogwood