I think I’ve always been destined to like classical music. I have this weird fantasy of Kurama, my childhood anime boyfriend, playing Beethoven on the violin and looking super sexy doing it.
I don’t make the rules, but let’s just say Oliver from Playing Autumn is my favorite Mina V. Esguerra hero.
We also used to listen to this series when I was a kid called Classical Kids, basically where they made stories about the composers interacting with young children. I remember the Bach Comes to Call story the most, but the Magic Flute adventure was one of my favorites, while Vivaldi’s Ring and Beethoven Lives Upstairs properly scared me.
But I’ve always been fascinated with that side of the world. I joined a chorale in high school and learned to read notes (sort of) and appreciated how voices blended together to make one, full sound.
So when my college friend introduced me to Nodame Cantabile, it felt like destiny at work. From the moment Chiaki learned to play Mozart’s Two Piano sonata with Nodame, I was hooked.
The music became a lot less nebulous in my head. Suddenly these wordless pieces burst with emotion and meaning, and I was hooked. I always thought I was a more visual person, but the music managed to capture me. And when I get hooked on to something I have the need to write about it, and that’s #amwritingTPOS, the thread that chronicles all of the current woes of someone attempting to explain why Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G makes her incandescently happy, or why she’s always surprised by the time Bolero reaches its loudest. Having to dive in to the music’s history to make a proper interpretation is my jam too.
If anything, listening to this music while writing has helped, mostly because I no longer stop in the middle and get stuck singing in a vortex of Beyonce’s Greatest Hits.
So just for the heck of it, if you were looking to relax for an afternoon, here are some of my favorites.
Love Theme from ‘Cinema Paradiso’ by Andrea and Ennio Morricone, played by Chole Hanslip
I came across this particular version by accident, and were I in a less strong emotional state, it would have made be sob into tears on the floor. I love the violinist’s playing here. She just draws the love out from the music, and I haven’t heard a version that matches this. Having never seen the movie, I looked up the summary, and the piece really fits the ending, where the man from the movie house splices together great moments of love on film.
Are you crying now, because I am.
Violin Concerto No. 4 in F Minor (Winter) by Vivaldi, played by Clara Jumi Kang
I know, I know. Everyone’s heard of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I remember seeing a small chamber group play through all of them in Prague, and thinking ‘wow, Autumn sounds really familiar,’ mostly because it’s been used in…everything. But when I saw this video of my new favorite, Clara Jumi Kang, my jaw met the floor. Can you say intensity? She played it like snowmageddon, and I love it when a woman wields that kind of badass power. And the conductor is properly creepy too.
Piano Concerto in G Major by Ravel, played by Yuja Wang
I was reading some of the comments on this where people were complaining that Yuja Wang dresses too flashy, and excuse me. If you’re playing Ravel and Rachmaninoff like you were born to do it you should be allowed to play it however way you like. I know Ravel was inspired by New York in the 1920s here, but the sounds just remind me of Hong Kong—that kind of eternally busy, quickly changing thing. It slows down and speeds up at the most random intervals, the way cities always do.
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, played by Lang Lang
After we watched An American in Paris on Broadway, I had a very minor obsession with Gene Kelly’s movie version (which was a huge inspiration for writing my #romanceclass Flair book!) and George Gershwin’s music. And you can’t talk about George Gershwin without talking about this piece. Ravel was inspired by Gershwin’s ability to mix modern jazz and orchestral instruments, and this is one of those pieces that just looks like it’s really fun to play. I mean look at Lang Lang, he’s having the time of his life on stage, playing on his piano.
Can’t you just imagine this playing on some rich lady’s lawn party? I can, for some reason. Mongoose not included (which is a Nodame joke, for all you fans out there).
Dawn by Dario Marianelli, played by Jean Yves Thibaudet
Just hearing the first two bars of this and already I can picture everything that happened in my favorite movie of all time. Again, I don’t make the rules, I just want to learn this piece and play it the entire day. It sounds exactly like the title says—like early morning light and dawn.
I would love to hear the pieces you like, recommendations and stuff? Were we the only ones with the Classical Kids CDs, did I make them up? Abangaaaan. Chos.