Month: November 2017

Suzanne’s First Turkey and Other Thanksgiving Adventures

At this time of year, I contemplate how grateful I am for my good fortune, including the gift of music my parents gave me. They were not musicians themselves, but they loved music and had many LPs in the house that played frequently, and they sang along and danced. They also had a piano, and when it came time for me to choose a band instrument they willingly rented, then bought, a flute for me. Soon after, they signed me up for private lessons.

My parents also passed along other traditions. Our house was typically where my family celebrated Thanksgiving, and the guest list always included an assortment of friends, too. I’ve embraced that tradition, and this year (as it is most years) the guests around our Thanksgiving table will include a rich and lively blend of family and beloved local friends. This year we will also be joined by some international guests — three of my husband’s coworkers will experience their first American Thanksgiving meal in our home!

Some of my family’s other Thanksgiving “traditions” are more dubious and those are, of course, often the most memorable and the funniest. For example, every year SOMETHING did not get cooked for one reason or another. One year, in a spectacular Thanksgiving fail, my mother put the turkey in the oven and when she checked it a few hours later, she discovered she had not turned the oven on! Another Thanksgiving ritual involved the turkey giblets. Every year my mother dutifully removed the giblets, placed them in a small saucepan and simmered them on the stove top. At the end of the day, as the dishes were being washed, the forgotten saucepan full of desiccated giblets was discovered and promptly discarded. Every. Single. Year.

Then there was the year illness sidelined both my parents, but they still wanted to host the Thanksgiving meal. My siblings and I took over the planning and execution of the meal, with my vegetarian sister claiming dibs on side dishes, and my other sister applying her master baking skills to dessert. As the only one still living in my parents’ home at the time, my default job was preparing the turkey. I was still a teenager and had never done this, and had nobody to advise me. It seemed straightforward enough. What could go wrong? (hint: I stuffed the wrong end of the turkey)

What are you thankful for this year? What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions? Who will be around your holiday table this year? Please share your Thanksgiving stories — heartwarming or funny.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, mishap-free Thanksgiving.



2017 Holiday Gift List

Sunday Baroque gift list


Every year at this time, I create a list of suggestions for holiday gift giving. Starting November 19th and continuing through December, you can audition some of my recommendations from the annual Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift List.  All of us at Sunday Baroque wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season filled with laughter, peace and an abundance of good music!




Harmonia Mundi 902296

Le Caravanésrail, Rachel Redmond – soprano

Period instrument ensemble Le Caravansérail plays a lovely collection of English baroque music by composers including Matthew Locke, Christopher Gibbons, Louis Grabu, John Blow and Henry Purcell. It’s an appealing collection of charming instrumentals as well as sassy theatre songs, sung by soprano Rachel Redmond.




Nonesuch 558933

Yo-Yo Ma – cello, Chris Thile – mandolin, Edgar Meyer – bass

Three extraordinary musicians join forces to play music by Johann Sebastian Bach in an unusual combination of instruments. Many (but not all) of the selections are familiar favorites, and the result is satisfying and beautiful. This is one of my personal favorite recordings of 2017!




ECM New Series 2530/31

Thomas Demenga – cello

The renowned cellist tackles the “Holy Grail” of the cello repertory for the second time. This is a lovely recording by a skilled and thoughtful musician. You can even hear my recent conversation with Thomas Demenga about this recording of Bach’s Suites, the cello he used to play them, and his approach to music making in general. It’s archived at in the “interviews” section.




Chaconne CHAN 0816

The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen

The whimsical name of this ensemble alone should make you want to buy this CD! But if that’s not enough, it’s well worth it for these joyful, expert performances of appealing music by a not-very-well-known 18th century Czech composer. It’s a perfect CD for anyone looking to broaden their horizons!




Deutsche Grammophon 4796922

Daniel Hope – violin, Zurich Chamber Orchestra

Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concertos are the cornerstone of this fine recording, which also includes music Daniel Hope considers seasonal in its own ways. Other composers on this imaginative, thematic cd include Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Kurt Weill. The violinist’s signature is his polished artistry, imaginative programming and sophisticated collaborations with other top musicians.




Channel Classics CCSSA39217

Rachel Podger – violin, Brecon Baroque

Four world-class musicians collaborate on violin sonatas by Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Maria Veracini, Giuseppe Tartini and Johann Georg Pisendel. Violinist Rachel Podger, cellist Alison McGillivray, theorbo player Daniele Caminiti, and harpsichordist Marcin Świątkiewicz give a joyful performance of some lovely chamber music.




Early Music EMCCD7777

Claire Guimond – flute, Alexa Raine-Wright – flute, Jean-Louis Blouin – viola, Arion Baroque Orchestra

The period instrument group Arion plays spirited music by two composers from the later years of the baroque era – Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Joaquim Quantz. Both men pursued music against their parents’ wishes for them, and both proved their families wrong by becoming accomplished musical innovators.




Hyperion CDA68184

Angela Hewitt – piano

This is the second of pianist Angela Hewitt’s two (so far) volumes of Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. I am impressed that she is not merely plowing through Scarlatti’s Sonatas in order, like some monumental task to be completed. Instead she chose Sonatas she personally loves – it is evident in her playing, and makes for a delightful listening experience.




Harmonia Mundi HMM902261

Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin

One of the world’s top period instrument ensembles takes on Concertos for multiple instruments by one of the most prolific composers of all time, Georg Philipp Telemann. What makes this recording extra special is that some of the featured instruments are off the beaten path, such as calchedon (a type of lute), hammer dulcimer and mandolin, in addition to more familiar instruments including oboes, horns and violins.

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World Kindness Day

Today is (apparently) World Kindness Day. I was alerted to this by a kind friend, and in looking up the observance I learned it was established on November 13, 1997 by a consortium of humanitarian groups. They wanted to encourage people to do something kind, whether it’s donating time, money or goods to a worthy organization or person, or committing an act of kindness — large or small — for a friend or stranger.