Thursday, February 11, 2021

‘Five Minutes to Make You Love Classical Music’

11 February 2021

I’ve been enjoying ‘Five Minutes to Make You Love Classical Music’ from the New York Times – a growing collection of recommendations, from a range of musicians, artists and writers, of the five minutes or so we would play to make our friends fall in love with classical music: There are now separate lists for ‘Five Minutes That Will Make You Love …’ the piano, opera, ‘cello, Mozart, 21st century composers, sopranos, baroque music, Beethoven and flute. I’ve been working my way through ‘5 Minutes That Will Make You Love String Quartets’ and really enjoying discovering several pieces I had never heard before. All the music is available to play directly from the web page – and all the extracts are around five minutes long so you can quickly sample a range of styles and genres to find something you like. The short paragraphs from each of the contributors, explaining why you should listen to their choice, are passionate and compelling. They reminded me of the very personal testimonies from guests on The Open Ears Project podcasts (reviewed here in November 2019). On why you should love string quartets, Zachary Woolfe, New York Times classical music editor, says “One of the alchemies of music is that four is the most intimate number. Perhaps because it echoes the mysterious privacy of the family unit, a string quartet somehow radiates greater intensity than a solo or duet.” He suggests that this intensity is rarely as fervent as in the slow movement of Shostakovich’s 10th Quartet, from 1964, and his 5 minute 17 second sample of this quiet, brooding music has made me seek out a full recording of the piece on Spotify. Job done, Zachary!

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