Updated: Jan 1, 2021
As a lover of classical music, I feel that its soothing and rich sounds offer many delights. What makes classical music so unique is the depth of knowledge and centuries of technical expertise that goes into every piece. Here, I wish to acknowledge the multitude of traditional and contemporary composers whose songs we try to play. From Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Frederick Chopin, to Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, to Philip Glass and Aaron Copland, classical music is filled with works of the GOATs. There are also many genres like Baroque, Early Music, Medieval, Chant, High Classical, Chamber Music, Classical Crossover, Orchestral, Choral, Romantic, Opera, Renaissance, Contemporary, Impressionism, Minimalism, Modern Composition, and then Avant-Garde. Like my dad often says, "music is an ocean."
My mom says I've been listening to classical music since before my birth. My dad would sit in front of my mom's belly and sing to me! My parents tell me I used to fall asleep to a Mozart CD when I was a baby. However, the first time I fell in love with the piano was when I heard Valentina Lisitsa play the "Presto Agitato" movement from the Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. The clarity of the notes combined with the grace, speed, and control of her fingers will easily allow this piece to remain in my "top 10 best recordings" list. Since then, I have wallowed in notes, flats, sharps, rhythm, composers, pieces, and instruments. Always curious to explore and learn new music theory or compositions, I would spend hours on YouTube listening to virtuosos and soloists from around the world play their favorite pieces.
A few years ago, I heard Evgeny Kissin play the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor at 12. I think this is one of the most challenging and technically rigorous piano pieces of all time. His mastery of the work was evident in his fingers' gliding movement, all the while displaying the melancholy of the concerto through his emotions. My piano teacher, Dr. Z, who watched the performance live at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory (lucky him!), felt Chopin himself played the piece. That is how magnificent and smooth the rendition was! Years later, the legendary Evgeny Kissin himself admitted that he could not play the work as well as he had during that 1985 recording. Classical music is an enigma.
Playing concertos is a massive part of string music. There is no better example of a violin concerto than the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor Op.64 played by Ray Chen. His expression, phrasing, and connection with the orchestra are precisely how a concerto is supposed to sound. Maybe someday I'll get there.
Suggested by my violin teacher, Ms. F, the Bach Chaconne from Partita No. 2 BWV 1004, performed by Hilary Hahn, is among the most polished and beautiful recordings of the piece. Although Hilary Hahn has numerous other famous performances, the Bach Partitas and Sonatas are among her most well-known. The Chaconne is one of the most technically impossible violin pieces to perform, given its many complicated double-stops and chords.
These are only some of my favorite pieces. And at the end of the day, music is music. Genres do not matter. Whether you like to listen to rap, jazz, country, classical, or Carnatic, the sounds that music carries will always find a way to bind our world.
~ Aniketh Arvind