Composer Anna Clyne tells us about the five pieces of music, book and luxury she would take to a desert island.
Imagining myself alone on a desert island, I’d likely turn to writing music to pass the time, so I would select pieces of music that enjoy repeat listening and also inspire my own creativity.
My first piece of music would be JS Bach’s Mass in B minor (1749). Bach’s Mass is such a profound work that reveals more with each listening and when listening to it one doesn’t feel alone, but instead, have a feeling of company. You can close your eyes and be transported to a beautiful space, experiencing this music as if in the company of others.
The second piece would be Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913). This piece also reveals itself more with each listening, and would keep my compositional curiosity alive. One of the things that I find so powerful about this piece is Stravinsky’s connection to the physicality of sound.
The third piece would be Eric Satie’s Gymnopédies (1888). It’s a collection of pieces that always seem to calm me, and which somehow transports me to an imaginary music salon in Paris in the 1920s. I’ve always wanted to play these so now, with ample time, I could carefully learn these from repeat listenings of the recordings.
The fourth piece would be Arvo Pärt’s Fratres (1977) – in particular a recording that includes several of his arrangements of this work. It is a perfect example of masterful craftsmanship, and it provides a meditation on time, of which I will have an abundance whilst stranded on a desert island.
The fifth piece would actually be an album, as I am assuming that I’ll have a playback device of some kind to hear these recordings. The album is Ella and Louis (1956) – featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. This album always lifts my spirits and transports me in time to how I imagine New York in the 1950s would be. When I listen to their music I can almost see their expressions and feel the atmosphere of the room. It’s pure musical magic and I’d be delighted and quite content to listen to this album over and over and over.
My chosen book would be the Complete Works of Shakespeare. As with the great works of Bach and Stravinsky, I will never run out of material to inspire new thoughts, dreams and music. Poetry, love, tragedy and inspiration.
My luxury item would be a grand piano, which would provide me with an opportunity to write new music and to learn new pieces by ear from my chosen recordings. It’s also an instrument that has so many wonderful sounds to explore – from strumming the strings inside the piano to preparing the strings with all kinds of strange island-found objects to alter the character of the sound.
Book for the BBC Philharmonic performing Anna Clyne's Masquerade at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 26 October
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