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097: Mstislav Rostropovich, ‘Cello Concerto Opus 43, Adagio’ (Mieczyslaw Weinberg)

On Holocaust Day we remember the incomprehensible persecution suffered by Moldovan/Polish/Russian Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919–1996) at the hands of both the Nazis and the Soviets.

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8

084: Dmitri Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue No 16 in B-flat Minor (Tatiana Nikolaeva)

As our hearts weep with the innocent Ukrainian victims of Russian aggression, our thoughts turn to Dmitri Shostakovich, a courageous human being and a great composer who lived and worked under the shadow of Soviet oppression.

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6

077: J.S. Bach, ‘The Art of The Fugue’ (The Emerson Quartet, ‘Contrapunctus 9’)

Listening to Bach isn’t so different from prayer. They are both human attempts to impose an artificial order upon an inherently chaotic world. 

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0

055: Miles Davis/Gil Evans, ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ (“Sketches of Spain”)

In which a jazz recasting of classical favorite trumps the classical original. Gil Evans and a taste of heaven.

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1

005: Glenn Gould, Toccata in Cm (J.S. Bach)

Why do I so respect Glenn Gould? Because his playing is willful, extreme, eccentric. Because it’s utterly engaged.

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11

073: Erik Satie, ‘Gymnopédie No. 1’

Erik Satie hung out with Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Milhaud, Stravinsky, Cocteau, Duchamp, Picasso, Braque, Man Ray, Breton, Diaghilev and Rene Clair, but no one entered his apartment for the last 27 years of his life. After his death, 84 identical handkerchiefs were found in his wardrobe.

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2

113: J.S. Bach, ‘Prelude to Suite #2 for Unaccompanied Cello’ (Casals)

Yom Kippur is when we Jews face up to the way we lead our lives. The cantor uses the liturgy to break open our hearts and try to pry open God’s. But if there were going to be a secular soundtrack, it would have to be Bach’s Cello Suites.

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6

129: Franz Schubert, ‘Death and the Maiden’

In Renaissance art, the Death and the Maiden allegory depicted irresistible Death seducing a hot virgin without any clothes—think of a slasher movie directed by Ingmar Bergman. In young Franz Schubert’s string quartet, this motif becomes a hyper-energized meditation on his impending demise.

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