1. Theofanidis Bassoon Concerto
So, first off, all credit for discovering this one goes all to my bassoonist husband. I would have NEVER found this gem without a bassoonists keen ear. This piece is mind blowing. Not only is the technique of the bassoonist, Martin Kuuskmann, truly remarkable but the composer Theofanidis is out of this world. Colors and music that are so refreshingly new and unique you will want to listen to this over and over.
Theofanidis takes the bassoon to the next level and then some. From the very start you realize that this isn’t your Mama’s bassoon piece. How it comes in so bold, brash and ready to prove itself - finally the bassoonists time has come!! It isn’t just the buffoon of the orchestra any longer. It’s all grown up and ready to make some music. The depth, range, technique, color and texture of the bassoon is stunning.
Every movement is so stirring and worth listening to but probably my favorites are the first and the second. Listen, listen, listen!
Just lay down on your couch, turn the lights down low and let the music drift over you and take you somewhere else. It’s that good! The video below is of the first movement, but please do yourself the kindness to listen to movements two and three.
2. Adoration of the Magi: Three Botticelli Pictures - Respighi
Once again, enters the bassoon! The lovely instrument that it is. As you listen to this piece - though unfamiliar it may be - you will recognize a familiar well loved Christmas tune, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel". Signifying the birth of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. This piece is the second of a set of pieces meant to depict a triptych known as the “Three Botticelli Paintings”.
This one of the series is my all time favorite and depicts the birth of the Savior. As you listen you can hear the reverent adoration and almost lullaby like demeanor. Whereas other times it changes to a regal and serious feel. It’s a stunning and moving piece by a seriously under appreciated Italian composer.
3. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis - Ralph Vaughn Williams
Doesn’t get much better than this. Ralph Vaughn Williams people.
This man. This. Man.
If you haven’t listened to a lot of Ralph Vaughn Williams before brace yourself - you’re about to hear what heaven sounds like. His music will transport you to something celestial. It is so spiritual to me, So touching. And one of my all time favorites has to be THIS. His theme by Thomas Tallis moved me to tears the first time I heard it.
Listen to it on GOOD speakers, turn up the volume and let it fill your room and your soul.
It will shake you to the core.
The way Ralph Vaughn Williams takes this simple haunting melody and expands the harmonics so richly is a triumph. The music transcends reality. You will want to listen to it again and again.
4. Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major
One of the most profoundly beautiful adagio movements ever to be written. It will tear your heart into two this piece. But in a way where you’ll want to keep letting it ache because it feels so good. It breaks your heart but then goes on to heal your soul at the entrance of the flute and oboe.
French pianist Helene Grimaud adds to the angelic beauty of this piece with her performance. It's one of my favorite music moments of all time - watching her play this piece. So much artistry, care and subtlety to her touch.