Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Relaxing Classical Music for Those of us with Annual Hypochondria Stress

Dear Media, Internet, and Well Meaning Friends.
SHUT UP ABOUT NOROVIRUS!! I am aware it's a thing, and I do NOT need to be reminded of its existence every time I leave the safety of under my bed.
Anyway, this time of year is a stressful one for us paranoid wrecks, so I figured why not help out my fellow hypochondriacs with (sorry it's not a miracle vaccine that protects against everything) a playlist of extremely relaxing classical music to take your mind off of your imminent doom. :D

Claude Debussy: Arabesque no.1, La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin, Reveries, Clair de Lune, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faune, La Mer: From Morning to Noon on the Sea
With his talent for heavenly texture and dreamlike moods, Debussy is your best friend, be it for relaxation or just something nice to play over your hot date.
I think that Arabesque no.1 is the most relaxing song ever, with it's flowing, water-like first section and more solid and elegant middle bit. Clair de Lune is one of my very favorite songs, and while it is brimming with enchanting emotion it is also very calming. The feel of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faune is very warm, like the summer day it describes.

Chopin: Nocturne in Eb no.2 opus 9, Etude no.3 in E 'Tristesse'
Chopin is terrific, and two of his songs in particular really resonate with me. Nocturne in Eb is a gentle and blissful piece that is almost a waltz, save for the 12/8 time signature. Etude no.3 is commonly known as 'Tristesse', French for 'Sadness'. The melody is very beautiful and lyrical, though the middle section gets a little crazy before settling back into the melody, this time very quiet and resigned.

Maurice Ravel: The Mother Goose Suite, Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte
A good story makes for a good distraction from problems in real life. Sheherazade is a masterpiece, but it's very colorful and not exactly what you need when you want to wind down and lower your blood pressure. Seriously, I've listened to Sheherazade and my heart starts beating faster, haha!
Ravel's Mother Goose suite however, is quite a bit more laid back, so you can let your imagination run wild on a story without getting extremely fired up. It features Sleeping Beauty, Little Tom Thumb, Beauty and the Beast, and Laideronette the Empress of the Pagodas! And Faeries. Each movement has its own unique texture and flavor, it's a treat.
Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte is absolutely divine and makes for an instant stress reliever, at least for me.

Erik Satie: Trois Gymnopedies, Je Te Veux
Erik Satie is pretty much the master of minimalism in music. So much is conveyed through so little, especially in Trois Gymnopedies. The three songs are very close to each other, but each carries a slightly different emotion- Painfully, Sadly, and Gravely. Je te Veux is different in character from the melancholy, atmospheric Gymnopedies. It is a flowing, dreamy waltz with a very romantic mood. Listening to it is like stepping into a teleporter and coming out in a 19th Century French Ballroom!

In The Steppes of Central Asia by Alexandre Borodin
With it's beautiful melody development and thematic elements of cultural harmony, Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia is a relatively unknown gem. The music reaches a brilliant emotion climax in the middle, and the rest of the piece winds down in a dusky, peaceful manner. We finish with a shining flute solo that sounds like a desert mirage.

Intermezzo (Entr'acte from Carmen) by Georges Bizet
The Entr'acte from Carmen features one of the most gorgeous melodies composed for flute. Accompanied by harp, the flute creates a tranquil and romantic scene, while other instruments like the Clarinet and English Horn weave in and out like a dialogue.

Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto, Movement 2
Tchaikovsky's music tends to be too emotionally intense to really wind down to, but this second movement of his 1st Piano concerto is a very sweet and playful piece that is deep without making you drain your tearducts. From the winsome flute solo that begins the movement, to the virtuosic scales of the middle section, all the way to the end where the main theme is reprised, this song is a wonderful rest from stress.

Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto, Movement 2
We've got a thing for 2nd movements of concertos, haha. This one is more solemn then the aforementioned Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff dedicated this concerto to his therapist, who helped him work through some really crippling depression. With that in mind, the music takes on a different light. The opening chords are that transition from a minor key to a major key are like an ascent from darkness of mind to peace.

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