*My favorite feel-good-while-working music (as opposed to wild-and-crazy-while-working which I know some people prefer!) includes a selection of jazz, classical, and a few surprisingly wonderful European accordion street music albums, and I thought I’d pass a few of them along to you. Today’s list is some samples of classical music only, and can help you both relax and read, write, think, or sweep the kitchen floor. Many are from the Baroque period (about 1600-1750), whose music I often find especially calming yet energizing, and helps me to do whatever needs to be done. Later in another post I’ll list some jazz and a couple of those accordion selections that do the same thing for me, but which I usually listen to later in the day. I’ll try also to list some pieces from my relaxing jazz list.
I’ve added a few notes for some selections. Also, I cut and pasted the titles into this post from my iTunes list so sometimes it’s a little confusing due to long titles in other languages. You see the title first, as in “Concerto a Due Cori No. 3, HWV 334,” then the movement and length of that piece I selected, as in “Allegro 2:57,” then the group and conductor, followed by composer (Handel in the first one–“HWV” is the short name for the catalogs of Handel’s work). In some cases after that is another umbrella title such as “The Masterworks.” You can find many other performances of these pieces by other groups that are also very good, but these are some of my favorite groups. The speed, acoustical character, and other aspects of the recordings of this music will often vary with the group. Some groups play some Bach pieces much faster than others for example. I prefer not too fast so I can hear all the wonderful moments clearly.
CLASSICAL LIST — Mostly from Baroque period, some from Classical period
1. The first piece is performed by one of the best Baroque music groups in the world, and one of the best conductors of (and experts on) the composer Handel, Christopher Hogwood. Handel’s Concertos a Due Cori are for strings and two wind groups (due cori is Italian for two choirs, but there’s no singing).
Concerto a Due Cori No. 3, HWV 334: 2a. Allegro 2:57 Academy of Ancient Music & Christopher Hogwood Handel: The Masterworks
2. A trio sonata is played by three instruments. This is another star Baroque performance group. There are two selections below from HWV (works of Handel) 405:
Trio Sonata for 2 Recorders and Continuo in F, HWV 405: I. Allegro 1:56 Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Denis Vigay, Elisabeth Selin, George Malcolm & Michala Petri Handel: Complete Wind Sonatas
Trio Sonata for 2 Recorders and Continuo in F, HWV 405: III. Allegro 2:37 Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Denis Vigay, Elisabeth Selin, George Malcolm & Michala Petri Handel: Complete Wind Sonatas
3. The album listed below is full of wonderful music by Vivaldi and I love most of it though I’ve just given you one example from it. Here is yet another great conductor of Baroque music (Sir Neville Marriner), and again the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, as is no. 2. “La Stravaganza” (The Extravagance) is the name Vivaldi gave this group of pieces for mainly solo violin and orchestra.
12 Violin Concertos, Op. 4, “La Stravaganza,” No. 2: I. Allegro 4:24 Alan Loveday, Sir Neville Marriner & Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Vivaldi: “La Stravaganza”
4. Yet another group of lovely Vivaldi pieces under a different title, with several conductors and same performing group as nos. 2 and 3. “L’estro armonico” is another group of concertos, this time for string instruments. There’s a wonderful short essay on this group of pieces (and some other interesting stuff related to it) at http://www.hoasm.org/VIIIA/VivaldiLEstroArmonico.html
12 Concertos, Op. 3, “L’estro armonico”: Allegro 2:41 Alan Loveday, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Carmel Kaine, Christopher Hogwood, Colin Tilney & Robert Spencer Vivaldi: L’estro armonico
5. I am in love with oboes, and especially the “oboe d’amore,” and listen often to many pieces featuring them. I also love the related instrument, the “English horn.” I’ve listed a few pieces with these instruments for you throughout this list. These wind instruments, in the hands of the right composers and performers, are magical. One of the world’s great oboe players, who plays on several of these albums including the one below, is Albrecht Mayer.
Suite No.11 In D Minor, HWV 437: Sarabande (Arr. For Oboe, Oboe d’amore And English Horn By Andreas Tarkmann) 2:40 Albrecht Mayer, Vocalise
6. Concerto for Oboe d’amore (From, BWV 209): I. Allegro 6:07 Albrecht Mayer & The English Concert Voices of Bach (Works for Oboe, Choir & Orchestra) Classical
7. Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Basso Continuo In D Minor, TWV 51:d2: I. Largo 4:05 Albrecht Mayer, Berliner Barock Solisten & Rainer Kussmaul Sinfonia Melodica – Works By Telemann Classical
8. I’m mainly a classical singer but for some time planned a concert career as a violinist. I studied violin for twelve years, and still love to play and to hear it. I very much enjoyed playing Bach and Vivaldi, and there are several Vivaldi pieces featuring the violin on this list as you’ve seen. Vivaldi is such an interesting character, a musician who was ordained as a priest, and due to his red hair was known in his town as The Red Priest. He couldn’t perform masses due to health problems, so he turned to composing and teaching music in an institution that provided training for trades for orphaned boys, and music training for orphaned girls. He was appointed Master of Violin there but composed for all instruments.The most talented of the girls performed in an orchestra so good it became famous worldwide. He wrote most of his great works for these girls, and they must have been extremely well taught by him since much of this beautiful music requires considerable technical skill to play. (Thanks to Biography.com for some of these details.)
Giuliano Carmignola is one of the best performers of Vivaldi violin pieces, and often performs with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, another great group.
Concerto In B Minor for Violin, RV 389: III. Allegro 4:34 Andrea Marcon, Giuliano Carmignola & Venice Baroque Orchestra Vivaldi: Violin Concertos
9. Again from Vivaldi’s “L’estro Armonico,” and featuring four violins
Concerto X In B Minor for Four Violins: Allegro 3:44 Arcangeli Baroque Strings Vivaldi: Six Concertos from L’estro Armonico, Opus 3
10. Part of another concerto for oboe, by Bach. (Oboe is one of the many instruments Bach studied and played.)
Concerto for Oboe in D Minor, BWV 1059: I. Allegro 5:52 Christian Hommel, Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Helmut Müller-Brühl & Lisa Stewart Bach: Concertos for Oboe & Oboe d’amore Classical
11. A concerto for entire string orchestra by the composer Albinoni. He was mainly a singer and violinist but wrote a number of fine oboe works, and some of those are also on this album.
Concerto for Strings in F Major, Op. 9, No. 10: I. Allegro 3:35 Collegium Musicum 90 & Simon Standage Albinoni: Double Oboe Concertos and Concertos for Strings, Vol. 2
12. Below is more Bach, part of a group of pieces for lute.
Suite in E for Lute, BWV 1006a – 1000: I. Praeludium 3:50 Eduardo Fernandez Bach, J.S.: Lute Suites
13. I love the harp, and find it enchanting to listen to as well as calming.
Harp Concerto in C: III. Allegro 3:56 Elizabeth Hainen Harp Concertos
14. Telemann is another famous and prolific Baroque composer. This album features more of Albrecht Mayer and other great soloists.
Triple Concerto in E Major, TWV 53:E1: I. Andante 3:28 Emmanuel Pahud/Berliner Barock Solisten/Wolfram Christ/Albrecht Mayer Telemann Concertos Classical
15. Gabrieli wrote many of these beautiful pieces for groups of brass instruments. He was born in the middle of the 16th century, and was a composer during the time music was moving from the Renaissance style to the Baroque. The Empire Brass is one of the most famous brass ensembles.
Canzon Duo Decimi Toni 3:33 Empire Brass The Glory of Gabrieli (Antiphonal Music for Brass Choirs) Classical
16. A concerto grosso is a piece featuring various solo instruments that alternate with the full orchestra. Many Baroque composers wrote them, and the one below is by Handel, who wrote many great ones. He worked in his native Germany, then Italy, and finally London where he lived for many years and was very much loved and celebrated. He was famous as a landmark opera composer as well.
Concerto grosso in B-Flat Major, Op. 3, No. 1: I. Allegro 2:58 English Chamber Orchestra, Raymond Leppard, Leslie Pearson & John Constable Ultimate Handel Classical
17. Fasch was a Baroque composer and contemporary of J.S. Bach and Georg Frideric Handel. He’s not as well known as some, but wrote lots of music I was delighted to discover him for myself with the help of our local classical radio station WCRB, here in Boston. He lived from 1688 to 1758 mostly in Germany. The performing group The English Concert and its conductor Trevor Pinnock are both well known and widely respected.
Concerto In D Major FWV L: D. 14: I. Allegro 3:10 The English Concert & Trevor Pinnock Fasch: Concerto and Orchestral Suites Classical
18. Another composer you might not have heard of is William Boyce, an English composer who lived in London during much of the 18th century. Among his best works are church music and a number of symphonies.
Symphony No. 1 In B-Flat: I .Allegro 2:54 English String Orchestra & William Boughton Boyce: The Eight Symphonies
19. The piece below is one movement from a concerto by C.P.E. Bach on an album of his and Mozart’s music. C.P.E. (Carl Philipp Emmanuel) was one of J.S. Bach’s sons, well-taught by his father to follow in Dad’s footsteps. There’s a fascinating essay on the two at http://www.interlude.hk/front/like-father-like-sonjohann-sebastian-and-carl-philipp-emanuel-bach/
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords, Strings and Horns in F Major, Wq. 46: I. Allegro 9:17 Haydn Sinfonietta Wien, Manfred Huss, Alexei Lubimov & Juri Martynov C. P. E. Bach & Mozart: Double Concerto and Symphonies
20. “Il Gardellino” is a performance group founded in Belgium. They play a lot of Baroque but also some later music. The Oboe D’amore concerto movement below is by the two 18th-century composers, Carl Heinrich Graun and his brother Johann Gottlieb Graun, again not so well-known to me at least until relatively recently.
Oboe D’amore Concerto In D Major: I. Allegro 6:11 Il Gardellino Graun: Concerti
13. Below is another concerto movement from L’estro armonico by Vivaldi. Iona Brown (1941-2004) was a British conductor and violinist.
12 Concertos, Op. 3, “L’estro armonico”: Allegro assai 3:01 Iona Brown, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Carmel Kaine, Roy Gillard, Christopher Hogwood, Colin Tilney & Robert Spencer Vivaldi: L’estro armonico
14. A solo harp piece by Carlos Salzedo, “Quietude,” from an album of harp composers. The harpist is Jennifer Swartz
5 Preludes: No. 1. Quietude 2:49 Jennifer Swartz Grandjany – Hindemith – Lizotte – Salzedo – Tailleferre: Solo Harp Music
15. I love trumpet and oboes together in this movement from an album of a group of composers. I chose the piece because I liked it but cannot find a clear composer name on the album. Kehr and Zickler appear to be two of the performers.
16. More trumpet, this time by Telemann. I’ve found some impressive recordings from this group, Latvian Philharmonic.
Trumpet Concerto In D Major, TWV 51:D7: II. Allegro 2:08 Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra & Pierre Kremer Orchestral Music (Baroque) – Handel, G.F. – Bach, J.S. – Pachelbel, J. – Corelli, A. – Purcell, H. – Vivaldi, A. (Baroque Orchestral Masterpieces)
17. Trumpet and oboe again, in a movement from a set of albums called The Art of the Baroque Trumpet. This double concerto is by Johann Wilhelm Hertel, (1727-1789), again relatively new to me.
Double Concerto In E Flat Major For Trumpet And Oboe: Allegro 4:55 M./Telemann Handel/Haydn The Art Of The Baroque Trumpet, Volume 4
18. An unlikely but beautiful combination of trumpet and organ, from the album The Italian Trumpet.
Concerto en Ol Mineur Pour Trompette Et Orgue: I. Vivace 1:28 Marc-André Doran & André Henry Italian Trumpet (The)
19. A movement from one of my favorite keyboard players, Murray Perahia (pronounce like pariah), part of one of the many celebrated Bach keyboard concertos.
Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056: III. Presto 2:58 Murray Perahia, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Jeanne Dolmetsch & Marguerite Dolmetsch Bach: Keyboard Concertos Nos. 3, 5, 6, 7
19. One movement from one of the many beautiful Mozart piano works, Concerto no. 25. The concertos are accompanied by orchestra. Mozart is from the Classical period, which came after the Baroque,
Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503: III. Allegretto 8:38 Orpheus Chamber Orchestra & Richard Goode Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 & No. 9
20. Also from the Classical period, a movement from a symphony by Haydn, who wrote many of them.
Symphony in B-Flat, H. I:68: I. Vivace 4:29 Philharmonia Hungarica & Antal Doráti Haydn: The Complete Symphonies
21. Most of Bach’s oratorios (such as The Messiah) include an overture. This is the beautiful overture to the Easter Oratorio, and the overture is called a “sinfonia” in this case.
Easter Oratorio “Kommt, Eilet Und Laufet”, BWV 249: I. Sinfonia In D Major 4:51 Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra Vienna & Ferdinand Grossmann Bach: Easter Oratorio & Magnificat
22. “Tafel” music was “table music,” meant to be heard at feasts and banquets. Telemann labeled some of his collections of compositions “Tafelmusik.” This is a movement from one of them. “Basso continuo” means “continuous bass” and is an accompaniment to the solo instruments made up of a bass line and harmonies, usually played on a keyboard and sometimes also on a lower instrument such as the cello.
Tafelmusik, Part 2: no 4, Trio Sonata for Flute, Oboe and Basso Continuo in E minor, TV 42:e2: I. Affetuoso 3:11 Salzburg Chamber Quartet Telemann: Table Music Suite Part 2, No. 4 – Trio in E Minor
23. Another movement of a piece for Oboe D’amore, by Telemann.
Concerto in A Major for Oboe D’amore: II. 3:14 Sarah Francis & London Harpsichord Ensemble Telemann: Oboe Concertos (Vol. 2)
24. Everything these two violinists play on this Vivaldi album by the Venice Baroque Orchestra is dazzling. I’ve put one movement of one of the Vivaldi pieces for two violins here. The violinists are Viktoria Mullova and again Giuliano Carmignola, listed earlier as the performer of a solo piece by Vivaldi.
Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Continuo in G Major, R. 516: I. Allegro Molto 3:41 Viktoria Mullova, Andrea Marcon, Venice Baroque Orchestra & Giuliano Carmignola, Vivaldi: Concertos for Two Violins
25. The Marsalis family of musicians is now legendary, and trumpeter Wynton is one of the finest classical trumpeters in the world. I’ve listed a movement below from a concerto by Johann Friedrich Fasch, including Marsalis along with two oboes and string orchestra.
Concerto In D Major for Trumpet, Two Oboes and Strings: I. Allegro 2:06 Wynton Marsalis & Raymond Leppard Wynton Marsalis Plays Handel, Purcell, Torelli, Fasch, and Molter
*These come from my longer curated music lists at my service Sonia Music. I’m giving readers this short list as a gift because I want more people to RELAX and get happier and healthier now!