A “Year of Wonder”-Ful Music: May

April showers may bring May flowers, but it also brought quite the range of classical pieces! Here are my top five choices, and I have to say, it was pretty difficult this time around…. I hope these selections give you a little slice of spring!!!

1) “Ellens Gesang III”, D. 839, or “Ave Maria,” by Franz Schubert

May is the month of the Blessed Virgin, and I can’t think of any better musical homage to she who is the epitome of grace and motherhood.  Schubert’s rendition of the “Ave Maria” is my favorite. Every time I listen to this classic, it hits a soft spot in my heart, and suddenly, I’m soaring…

2) Piano Concerto no. 2 in F Major, op. 102, 2: Andante, by Dmitri Shostakovich

Shastakovich wrote this piece for his son’s 19th birthday. What a gift! This is particularly expressive and emotional, given the fact that he had the Soviet government breathing down his neck and pressuring him to produce propaganda music. Besides, it’s all the things I like about piano pieces: slow, introspective, a little moody. If there’s a piece of melancholy piano music to be had, then I’m your girl…

3) Chaconne in G Major, by Andrea Falconieri

I like this piece because it’s so unique among medieval music. It’s not a choir, it’s not stiff or painfully slow, and it’s not chamber music. It just sounds like a bunch of lords and ladies are out having a fun night for a change. Plus, I love that little Spanish flair! Can you hear it?

4) Lyric Pieces, Book 5, op. 54, No. 4: Notturno, by Edvard Grieg

Here is another piece I’ve heard countless times without knowing the composer! It’s not depressing or melancholy, it’s not super complicated, and it doesn’t give off a romantic vibe. It’s just…. piano. Looking for a relaxing piece to lower your blood pressure? Look no further…

5) “Vesti la giubba” – “Put on your costume,” from Pagliacci, by Ruggiero Leoncavallo

Another piece I’ve heard time and again without knowing the composer! It’s the story that got me on this one. This poor guy (a clown on stage) finds out that his wife cheated on him, and although heartbroken, he must continue with his performance. Most operas are sad, but listening to Pavarotti sob through this song is pretty tragic indeed…

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