It’s Valentine’s Day, when many people’s expectations are high for romance. Candy, flowers, cards and romantic dinners are OK, but what moves me even more is MUSIC. With that in mind, these are a few of my favorite things — baroque and early music that is luscious and romantic and perfect for ANY time, not just a fleeting holiday. Always the perfect fit.
At the top of my list is Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in d BWV1043 for 2 Violins, particularly the rapturous middle movement. They are some of the most beautiful notes ever combined, and hearing them gives me goosebumps. Every. Single. Time.
Next, the aria OMBRA MAI FU from George Frideric Handel’s opera XERXES. Also known as simply the Largo, the familiar music is a beautiful tender melody paired with unlikely lyrics. It’s a love song sung to a tree, praising its shade-giving and other qualities. It’s like love in real life: tender and lovely, but also a bit goofy.
The Chaconne by Antonio Bertali is a pretty and captivating repeated melody that ultimately unwinds and evaporates into thin air. My favorite performance of this pretty music by the Verona-born composer features violinist John Holloway, organist Aloysia Assenbaum and harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen.
With so many beautiful settings of the ultimate romantic poetry — the Song of Songs — Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s settings have to make the list. How could anyone resist the invitation to “Arise my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away…”? (Try The Sixteen’s recording!)
I could go on, but now I’d like to know YOUR favorite baroque and early music. What piece helps you chill out? What composer always puts a smile on your face? Which CD do you turn to when you need just the right music? Do you have a favorite performer or ensemble? Let me know and … Happy Listening!