Long-form Listening

The Sunday NYT Arts & Leisure section this morning featured a multipage compilation of their “5 Minutes” recommendations for listening to classical music. Five minutes is great and I hope it helps some readers make new discoveries. But five minutes of listening can be like looking at just the top left corner of a Monet or a Chagall. You need to see the proverbial big picture. The world is now all about the elevator pitch; the five-minute dopamine hit. I know my attention span isn’t what it used to be, so I’m trying to read more (maybe it will help with my attention?). I’m trying especially to do so in plain view of my child with the hope that it will be contagious.

Here at the beginning of the year, many of you may be similarly inspired: if you want to try something different, something good for your health that requires only your ears, try some long-form listening. If you can intentionally carve out 45 minutes to an hour just to listen (without reading/driving/running/scrolling), I have several favorite recommendations to get you started. Admittedly, these are rather Chicago-leaning, but my bias is with good cause. Most if not all of these can be found on streaming platforms and some may even be available on YouTube for free. If you really need something visual, I recommend checking out Berlin’s Digital Concert Hall, which has an enormous archive of concerts.

These mean something to me. Maybe they’ll mean something to you, too. And if it turns out that this isn’t your thing, then at least you tried.

I might write deeper into these one-by-one sometime, but for now, just a list. What are your recommendations?

  • John Adams: Harmonium / San Francisco Symphony and Chorus / Edo de Waart, conductor
  • Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra / Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Pierre Boulez, conductor
  • Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons
  • Foo Fighters / Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
  • Hindemith: Mathis der Maler / Berlin Philharmonic / Claudio Abbado
  • Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra / Chicago / Daniel Barenboim
  • Mahler: Symphony No 5 / Chicago / Georg Solti (1991)
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 6 / Chicago / Bernard Haitink
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 9 / Chicago / Carlo Maria Giulini
  • Wynton Marsalis: Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1
  • Nielsen: Symphony No. 2 / Chicago / Morton Gould (paired with No. 4 under Jean Martinon)
  • Prokofiev: Piano Concertos 1 & 3 / Cleveland Orchestra / George Szell / Gary Graffman, piano
  • Ravel: Piano Concerto in G / Berlin / Claudio Abbado / Martha Argerich, piano
  • Scriabin: Poem of Ecstasy / Chicago / Neeme Järvi
  • Sting: Nothing Like The Sun (because Branford)
    Sting: The Soul Cages (because mood)
    Sting: All This Time… (a live, intimate-venue concert of many of his hits, with fresh harmonies and features by trumpeter Chris Botti and bassist Christian McBride)
  • Strauss: Ein Heldenleben / Berlin / Simon Rattle
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 / Chicago / Georg Solti (1989)

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