The power of free music

Paraphrasing (sort of) Noel Coward’s “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is” I’m titling this piece “The power of free music”, as all of the pieces I list here can be found for free-gratis-no charge (aka cheap) on the Internet. They are my 2020 list of favorite musical moments that came from reviewing dozens of CD’s and live performances during this year.

These have for me one thing in common: they trigger basic emotions (sadness, melancholy, etc.) And they are short – shorter even than most classical compositions, which in fact all three on this list are. Here they are in random order, with links.

  1. Simone Dinnerstein with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra conducted by José Antonio Méndez Padrón playing the Adagio from the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488 has three things going for it: a) Mozart, b) Simone Dinnerstein, and c) a Cuban orchestra entirely made up of young musicians from my birth country.
  2. The second movement (Largo) from Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15 played by my favorite Beethoven interpreter, Stewart Goodyear. Written by Beethoven when he was 25, this music expresses to me a young man’s unrequited love for someone beyond his reach. Stewart Goodyear gets here superlative support from Andrew Constantine and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
  3. Yalil Guerra’s “Al Partir” for String Orchestra. This is a brief and absolutely beautiful composition for string orchestra inspired by a poem of the same title by the Cuban poetess Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda depicting her emotions upon leaving her homeland. Both the music and the text of the poem move me every time I hear and read them. The composition is performed here by the all-female Camerata Romeu conducted by Zenaida Romeu. This video depicts the rehearsals and world premiere during June of 2019 in Havana, Cuba.