1) Tristan and Isolde Act III: 'Mild und leise wie er lächelt'
Strange maybe for a ballet orchestral musician to start a playlist with a piece of opera but it’s just so gratifying to play this opera and worth every painful minute of the four hours. I had the pleasure of performing this in Dublin with the wonderful soprano Miriam Murphy; she sadly passed away in July, which has made me want to relive every minute.
2) Romeo and Juliet Act IV: Epilogue - Prokofiev - arranged for viola and piano
If I had to play one piece of music for the rest of my life - this would be it. This is a different take on it though and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
3) Viola Quartet Op.41 - York Bowen
York Bowen composed many original works in the early 20th century for the viola, and was one of the first English composers to do this. As a violist himself, he considered the tone quality of the viola to be far superior to that of the violin (I might be biased but I wholeheartedly agree) and wrote a concerto, two sonatas and this Fantasy Quartet for four violas. This is an absolute joy to perform and what’s better than the sound of four violas?! No jokes please!
4) Cello Concerto No.1, Op.107: 1. Allegretto - Shostakovich
This has to be in my top five concertos for any instrument and possibly the most exciting of all cello concertos. I performed this with the cellist Alisa Weilerstein a couple of years ago and thought it was one of the powerful performances of it I’d ever heard and one of the few times I was torn whether I would have preferred to be on the stage or in the audience.
5) Cold Little Heart - Big Little Lies Soundtrack
I spent the first part of lockdown listening to lots of podcasts on my daily walks with our dog, but with all the mention of COVID-19 I switched to listening to more uplifting things. This TV series soundtrack has such a mix of artists from Elvis Presley to Portishead. This is the theme song but do check out the whole soundtrack!
6) Misirlou - Quartet Ebene
This French string quartet are one of my favourites to watch and listen to. They have done incredible recordings of the Beethoven quartets and another great disc with Debussy and Ravel. I urge you to go a look them up. But I’ve included a track from one of their non-classical albums.
7) Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola: II: Andante - Mozart
Another of my top five concertos but one I actually get to play. This slow movement is a beautiful, often operatic duet which some say is Mozart’s musical expression of his grief over his mother’s recent death.
8) Metamorphosen - Strauss
Enjoy the sublimeness of the next 25 minutes of Richard Strauss.
9) Swan Lake - Finale - Tchaikovsky
This was the last piece I performed before lockdown in March. We were in Sunderland, playing at the Empire Theatre which is one of my favourite pits to play in as it’s not completely under the stage, like most are. I was lucky enough to be positioned by the pit wall and could therefore see the stage, so for the first time ever during my numerous performances of Swan Lake, I could watch the dancers (when I wasn’t playing, obviously). Seeing the incredible dancing, alongside Tchaikovsky’s wonderful score made me feel very lucky to do a job I love.