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Lockdown Listening with Alexander Van Ingen

Alexander Van Ingen

This month, our incoming Chief Executive, Alexander Van Ingen shares his album picks including some you may not have heard before.

Listen along through the videos below, or find the full albums in our Lockdown Listening playlist on Spotify.

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Mahler

For grand scale, all-enveloping escapism, can you beat Mahler’s vast Eighth Symphony? A reassuring work to listen to, inspiring confidence and a sense of renewal, I find Part 1 particularly glorious.
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Shostakovich

This recommendation is really for Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.2, though you get both on this album. The first concerto is reasonably well-known, but the second is rarely performed. I found it a difficult work to make sense of, but this recording with Alisa Weilerstein formed a ‘eureka’ moment, and in lockdown I’ve been listening to it more. The whole album is superb.
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Atmosphere

The Polish string quartet ATOM not only perform classical repertoire, they also compose and perform across jazz and contemporary styles. This double album from 2015 is an entertaining ride - enjoy it!
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Schoenberg & Schubert

For an hour and twenty minutes, treat yourself to another world, something extraordinarily special both in the music and the performance. Schoenberg’s Verkläte Nacht and Schubert’s String Quintet, performed by a chamber ’super-group’ led by Janine Jansen. Many of us shy away from Schoenberg - his second-period reputation for atonality looms large - but not only is that period well worth exploring, his earlier works extended late German Romanticism in a wholly tonal way. This really is an extraordinary recording by some extraordinary musicians.
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After Silence

A new British group that has experienced amazing international success in recent years, VOCES8 have just released a double-album After Silence, celebrating their 15th birthday. It’s full of beautifully-sung music showcasing the exceptional versatility of the group: thought-provoking texts and a gorgeous blended cushion of sound.
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Handel

Before Mahler, perhaps Handel was the master of large-scale composition: his Brockes-Passion came before Bach’s Passions (Handel’s Brockes directly inspired JSB to write the St. John), he wrote for forces including 22 violins in 1708 (La Ressurezzione) and much more. There are so many recordings of Messiah it is perhaps invidious to single one out, so here is his great - and almost unknown - Passion setting in a new recording last year from the Academy of Ancient Music. There’s plenty here to explore, and it is all new music for most of us: see if you can spot the ecologically-friendly Handel’s tendency to recycle music from earlier works into this one, and form this one into later works - some recognisable melodies come in surprising places!
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Strauss & Wagner

Lise Davidsen is a young artist with much to offer, and I discovered her first through this exceptional recording with the Philharmonia under Esa-Pekka Salonen.
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Elgar

In the hope I’m allowed two large-scale choral choices, I add Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Elgar is a composer we know so well in the UK, but who is only really starting to make his way abroad. I’m a fan of Daniel Barenboim’s series of Elgar recordings with Staatskepelle Berlin which are pushing Elgar’s international reputation, and I hope that we at the Philharmonia can add weight to championing British composers abroad too.
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Something's Coming

The debut album from the Callum Au Big Band - a young group making a serious mark, this album has Nigel Hitchcock as a guest, and is centered around a new Westside Story Suite, arranged from Bernstein’s much-loved work by Callum Au.
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Thinking Allowed

An album from The David Rees-Williams Trio, this - and their other albums - is a CD I find myself returning to time and again. David has a real knack for finding ‘classical’ melodies which naturally work in another context; this is no ‘jazzing up the classics’, but rather an intelligent and highly musical play on thematic material.
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Encore:

Can I be allowed one little extra? In future years I know we will enjoy some first-rate recordings with the Philharmonia’s incoming Music Director, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and this brief three minutes from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake show that we are in for a real treat. The Philharmonia’s string sound has long been known as the country’s finest, and is a real calling-card for the orchestra - hear our principal oboe glide on top of the silky string texture followed by the power and might of the full orchestra performing in this short excerpt. A bittersweet listen, reminding us what we are missing in the concert hall; but also a tantalising glimpse of the riches in store just as soon as we can all be together again to make music for our audiences across the UK live in concert once more.