Winter in Canada can go a couple of different ways: on the one hand, it’s cold and gloomy outside, which can be depressing at times; on the other hand, if you curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and some world class recordings, the winter can feel warm and comfortable – it’s a matter of perspective. The atmosphere of Canadian winter lends itself particularly well to solo recordings in the classical style. The somber, solitary sound of the virtuoso musician performing instrumental compositions can be incredibly comforting on those cold nights. Furthermore, if you have difficulty reading to music that has lyrics or that is overly complex, solo classical is a great solution – it sort of melts into the background.
In this post we’ll recommend four albums that will help calm your nerves and make it through the winter in fine form.
1. Pat Metheny – One Quiet Night
Recorded at the jazz musician’s home-studio in a single night – November 24th, 2001 – One Quiet Night is a gorgeous album of thoughtful, ambient guitar songs brimming with character despite the lack of lyrics. Metheny said he left mistakes on the recordings to give them an organic feel. One Quiet Night won a Grammy for New Age album of the year in 2004.
2. János Starker – JS Bach’s Cello Suites
Instantly recognizable, these suites have the sonic quality of a warm hug. Starker played a cello that was purportedly the largest instrument ever made by the famous luthier Antonio Stradivarius. The music itself was composed by Bach between 1717-1723 and was written to accompany specific baroque rhythms for the purpose of dance. Their flowing, melodic nature creates an incredibly relaxing mood at the end of a long day.
3. Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano 1 & 2
The most popular albums by this Canadian jack of all trades (he also raps and produces for Feist and Daft Punk), Solo Piano and its sequel are extremely lively, catchy piano compositions that bridge the gap between Mozart and Erik Satie. Excellent dinner music for those beef stew and red wine nights, in turns kinetic and mellow.
4. Vladimir Ashkenazy – Chopin’s Nocturnes
As you might imagine, nocturne literally means “music inspired by, or evocative of, the night”. Since you’ll be spending the next few months with winter’s darkness around you, there will be plenty of opportunities to invoke the calming vibe of the nocturne. The Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy recorded a beautiful version of the 21 famous nocturnes by the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin. These nocturnes were written between 1827 and 1846 and are considered the finest examples of the form.
If you find these recordings by solo musicians inspiring, harness that inspiration and signup for music lessons today – even if you don’t have a band, you can make a lot of music with a single instrument. Winter is all about savouring the little things and finding projects to keep yourself occupied. Whether it’s knitting, reading or playing chess while listening to these recordings or actually sitting down with a guitar or at the piano, stay calm and engaged this winter and it’ll be spring in no time. Best of luck!
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