Classical Music for Winter

The weather is closing over and it’s getting darker earlier each day putting me in the mood for blankets, books and tea – and warming music. Here are my favourite picks to help chase away the winter blues.


Orchestral: Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps


It’s been 100 years since there was a near-riot in Paris at the opening of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes Rite of Spring’. With a groundbreaking score by Igor Stravinsky, Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic have paid homage to this music, as well as other Stravinsky orchestral works. This is an album that is important both in the musical landscape and historically and featuring some of the greatest musicians working today.


Vocal: Kaufmann: Wagner


There is something smooth and velvety about Wagner’s orchestral writing and in this recording, Kaufmann’s voice covers the music to create a warm musical experience akin to melted dark chocolate. Kaufmann’s most recent album is a selection of arias from Wagner’s operas, but also included is the Wesendonck-Lieder, originally orchestrated by Wagner conductor, Felix Mottl. This is a gentle interpretation, even at the height of excitement, and pulls you completely into the music.


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Chamber: Dvorak & Tchaikovsky: Serenade Strings


One of the most sumptuous sounds in the world is lush, gorgeous sound of orchestral strings in full flight. Although this a larger chamber ensemble than normal, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner’s performances of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Serenades’ is a must for any collection. If you’re looking for a warm blanket of music, this is it…


Opera: Bizet: Carmen


Colour, light, costumes, drama, action and music. The Metropolitan Opera is the King of opera productions in beauty and quality. It’s not just their music and staging, but also in the filming itself. Hiring some of the best directors, they transport you from the comfort of your own home into the centre of New York and the Metropolitan Opera House. If you’ve missed seeing any productions until now you are missing out.


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Instrumental: Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone


This album walks the line between straight-classical, contemporary-pop and soundtracks. Yo Yo Ma is generally considered one of the best cellists around, his turn of phrase in every work he performs is something to behold, and Ennio Morricone is one of the most prolific soundtrack composers of the 20th century, with his seminal scores bleeding into the very existence that we live. Combine the two together and you have an instant hit.


DVD: The Reef


Sometimes we need something contemplative and restful, both to watch and listen to. Richard Tognetti has already gained a large following through his work which brings together the Australian Chamber Orchestra with a surfing community. The Reef is a blend of contemporary music with visuals to get you thinking about the natural world.


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Kate Rockstrom is a Classical Specialist at Readings Carlton. She regularly performs as a flautist as well as writing about music and books, follow her at www.stonestream.net.