Relax (LP) | Erato 2564649416

Relax (LP)


Currently out of stock at the UK suppliers. Available to order, but is likely to take longer than usual to despatch

Label: Erato

Cat No: 2564649416

Format: LP

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 19th February 2016



Scientists at Oxford University conducted a series of experiments before announcing it to the world in June 2015. You, however, will know it instinctively: the right kind of classical music can lower our blood pressure and heart rate. The Oxford team also discovered that rock and pop just don’t have the same effect, so – for your own good – take some time to enjoy the sequence of music on RELAX as it wends its leisurely way through some 250 years of history.

Venice is, fittingly, known as ‘La Serenissima’ and RELAX opens with music by two composers born in the city, Antonio Vivaldi and Alessandro Marcello. Beyond the Four Seasons, Vivaldi wrote literally hundreds of concertos, including this charming work for two mandolines. Marcello is comparatively little-known today, but Johann Sebastian Bach, the supreme composer of the Baroque era, was happy to put his name to an arrangement of this oboe concerto.

Christoph Willibald Gluck, born in what is now Bavaria in 1714, launched a revolution in opera with his version of the Orpheus story, but the graceful, untroubled Dance of the Blessed Spirits poses no challenges to the listener. By contrast, there is a deep undercurrent of sadness to the exquisite slow movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23.

Moving to France – and forward a century or so – it’s time for a wondrously romantic walk in the moonlight with Debussy’s Clair de lune, a glide through Saint-Saëns’ exotic Aquarium (enhanced by the shimmering sound of the glass harmonica) and some gentle, meditative exercise with the first of Erik Satie’s three hypnotic Gymnopédies, conceived as evocations of Ancient Greece.

The Tudor era was the inspiration for the Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Legend has it that the famous, flowing melody was written by Henry VIII himself and here it frames a folk song called ‘Lovely Joan’. Samuel Barber’s haunting Adagio for Strings started life in 1936 as a movement for string quartet. Arranged for string orchestra, it has become a fixture at solemn occasions, but its beauty and intensity transcend any tragic associations.

The title of Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the mirror), composed by Estonian-born Arvo Pärt in 1978, suggests the complexity of infinite reflections. As it happens, the piece has an almost childlike simplicity, with long-held violin notes suspended over broken chords on the piano. No wonder that Pärt is recognised as a master of ‘mystic minimalism’.

1. Marcello - Oboe Concerto in D minor: II. Adagio
Paolo Grazzi oboe • Il Giardino Armonico • Giovanni Antonini
2. Vivaldi - Concerto in G for two mandolins and strings, RV532: II. Andante
Giovanni Scaramuzzino, Sonia Maurer mandolins • Europa Galante • Fabio Biondi
3. Gluck - Orphée et Eurydice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Alexandre Tharaud (piano)
4. Mozart - Piano Concerto no.23 in A major: II. Adagio
Maria-João Pires (piano) • Gulbenkian Orchestra • Theodor Guschlbauer
5. Debussy - Clair de lune
Kun Woo Paik (piano)

1. Saint-Saens - Carnival of the Animals: The Aquarium
The Nash Ensemble
2. Satie - Gymnopédie No.1 (Lent et douloureux)
Anne Queffélec (piano)
3. Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on Greensleeves
BBC Symphony Orchestra • Andrew Davis
4. Barber - Adagio for Strings
Philadelphia Orchestra • Eugene Ormandy
5. Pärt - Spiegel im Spiegel
Tasmin Little (violin) • Martin Roscoe (piano)

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