Some have the idea that the great Baroque and Classical-era masters — like J.S. Bach or W.A. Mozart — are stuffy or serious. But we at Delos double-dare any uptight listener to resist the soothing strains of Bach’s Sheep may Safely Graze (track 3) or his Air on the G-string (tr 4). Likewise for the subdued “Largo” movement of Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter concerto (tr 2), or any of Mozart’s deliciously gracious slow movements: like those heard here from his delightful Divertimentos (trs 1 and 5).
Nobody can beat the great Romantics when it comes to music of the heart — but there’s a soft and fuzzy side to musical romance that can calm the deepest fears and help you forget your troubles. And few tunesmiths of the day could top Antonin Dvořák for melodies that not only melt the hardest hearts, but alleviate the thorniest anxieties, too; just give his pastorally peaceful Silent Woods (tr 6) a try. Even the often brawny music of Johannes Brahms gives way to his penchant for lovely and lyrical utterances of incredible sweetness and comfort. We defy you to listen to his May Night, Op. 117/1, Intermezzo, We Strolled, and Song of the Larks (trs 10-13) back-to-back, and NOT feel better. Then there’s Camille Saint-Saëns’ smoothly flowing The Swan (tr 8) — it’s guaranteed to glide you away to a better place!
But with the dawning of the 20th century and French Impressionism came Claude Debussy, whose revolutionary hamrinic language and magical tone-painting techniques made him perhaps the most serenely soothing, mellowest master of them all. The five pieces from him heard here — Clair de Lune (tr 9), The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, Album Leaf, Heather and Reverie (trs. 15-18) are sure to leave you in a blissful trance. Debussy’s contemporary and fellow Impressionist Marice Ravel will likewise make you forget the world and its problems with his Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant. Representing the mid-20th-century, the sweetly pentatonic melody of Alan Hovhaness’ Bagatelle, Op. 30/1 (tr 7) will both charm and disarm you.
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