I’m sometimes asked what my favourite piece of music is; it can change quite a lot depending on what I’m playing at the time. I do tend to get rather obsessed about some pieces I’m playing, and have them on repeat ad infinitum, until I make a new discovery.
Then a friend who has recently returned to listening to classical music inspired me to put together a list of music that I often return to, no matter what that latest favourite might be.
I was going to try to do the Desert Island Discs thing and only pick 8 but it proved to be rather impossible cutting things off the list!
- Schubert String Quintet in C – this actually was my first CD of my own; the recording played by the Alban Berg Quartett and Heinrich Schiff.
- Elgar’s Symphony No 1 – I was lucky enough to play this with the European Union Youth Orchestra www.euyo.org.uk in my first BBC Prom in 2002 with Sir Colin Davis conducting.
- Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. I performed this in a run a few years ago, and I’m just about to get to do it again; it’s in my top two favourite operas. Fabulous music, both to listen to and to play.
- Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. This is the other opera. It was a real pleasure to be playing one of the solo string parts when I did this. The music for the Composer at the end of the Prelude and some of Ariadne’s music in the opera are just heartstopping.
- Strauss’ Four Last Songs. I thought about leaving these out, as I’ve already got one set of Strauss, but these are just divine, the violin solo being pretty close to the top of the music “bucket list”!
- Vaughan Williams Tallis Fantasia – this is my favourite piece of strings only music.
- John Williams “Star Wars” music. Definitely one of the reasons I thought it would be cool to be a musician, just to play this..
- Bach B minor mass. This is one of the pieces of music I used to walk to school with playing on my tape Walkman. The other was Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 2.
- Finzi’s Dies Natalis. If you don’t know this, it’s the most divinely beautiful piece of music for strings and tenor.
- Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence. This reminds me of my time studying in London, as not only did I play it there, but there was a student dinner party once where we sight-read the sextet version through, and it was rather..approximate!
- Brahms Bb Sextet. I felt I had to have some Brahms on this list – could easily have been the first Symphony (I always wanted to play the timpani at the beginning) or the Violin Sonata in G major. But playing first violin in a concert at the Conway Hall with other Royal Academy students on a rather nice Andrea Guarneri violin that I’d just been leant (and would play on for the rest of my time at the Academy) was definitely a highlight.