Song of the Week No. 6 - The Lark Ascending

My family and I spent the long weekend in Daylesford, something of a spiritual home for us.  The house we rented was waiting for us with the heating on and ABC Classic FM on the radio.  Classical music in the background doesn't always grab my attention, but in this instance, I found myself continually distracted by the consistent beauty of the pieces they were playing.  Well, that was because they were featuring a weekend-long Swoon Top 100.  I love the the word and the idea of a collection of music to make you swoon.  Originally Swoon was a segment on the breakfast program featuring pieces that are connected simply by their ability to induce rapture.  Frankly, I could use their selection as my exclusive classical music playlist. A lot of classical music is tremendously invigorating, dynamic, spectacular or virtuosic, but the stuff that gets me right in the heart most consistently is the slow, contemplative stuff.  Give me a bunch of Adagios and you can keep the Allegros.

I was thrilled to see Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel coming in at #4 (more on that piece in a future post), but was not surprised when the winner turned out to be The Lark Ascending.  I remember hearing this piece at about age 17, again on ABC Classic FM (bless the ABC) and being swept away.  I'd enjoyed some classical music prior to it, but this one really made me sit up and take notice and sent me down a path I am still on.  It captures the aching beauty available from the violin (an instrument prone to musical hissy fits), whose soaring freedom is offset beautifully by the warm, slow grace of the orchestra, appropriately evoking a bird whirling ecstatically across a cloud-dotted summer sky.

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