WAO Playlist Series
WAO Playlist III curated by Wesfarmers Young Artist Adrian Soares
This week, Wesfarmers Young Artist Adrian Soares shared his music playlist with us. Adrian’s playlist features operatic classics from La Bohème and Tosca, to Joe Hisaishi’s enchanting score form the Academy Award-winning film, Spirited Away and contemporary music from the likes of Anomalie and Vulfpeck. Stream the playlist and read why each track made Adrian’s list.
La Bohème – Giacomo Puccini (Act 1: Si, mi chiamano Mimi)
La Bohème was the first opera I worked on. I was asked to play for the children’s chorus auditions at the end of 2017 for WAO’s production, and I really enjoyed the rehearsal process of working with the chorus, refining the opening “Aranci, datteri” of Act II. After the auditions, I went home and studied the rest of the score in-depth, and it gave me an insight into the repetiteur role as a potential career pathway. My favourite moment from the opera is “Si, mi chiamano Mimi”, which is Mimi’s response to Rodolfo’s “Che gelida manina” and portrays one of opera’s most amazing moments of ‘getting to know you’. Maria Callas is truly remarkable in this recording, a must for anyone who wishes to hear the best the art form has to offer.
Tosca – Giacomo Puccini (Act 3: E lucevan le stelle)
I must confess I am a bit of a latecomer to the opera world, as the first opera I attended was Tosca in 2017. However, it was a truly memorable experience. I loved Cavaradossi’s heart-wrenching aria “E lucevan le stelle” in Act 3, and I was captivated by Paul O’Neill’s rendition, full of passion and dynamic shading that gets every last ounce of the aria’s great emotional content.
Peter Grimes – Benjamin Britten (Act 1: Now the Great Bear and Pleiades )
I consider this one of Britten’s greatest masterpieces, and of the most incredible modern operas in every way. This particular ‘arioso’ “Now the Great Bear” features an extraordinary vocal line. Peter sings for his life on barely more than one note throughout, a high E, while descending harmonics in the orchestra underscore his existential plunge into questions of fate. Pure poetry and unsettling tenderness.
Var det en drom? – Jean Sibelius (5 Songs, Op. 37: No. 4)
One of my all-time favourite art songs. “Was it a dream?” combines a Romantic glow, a richly-coloured piano texture, and stunning lyrical passion. In this album, Barbara Bonney provides an incredibly focused tone and shading with Antonio Pappano at the keyboard as a deeply sensitive collaborator, giving the listener an emotional connection with the music. Listening to the whole album is as delightful as sipping wine before a winter fire.
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78 – Johannes Brahms
Is there anyone that can represent bittersweet nostalgia better than Brahms? This divine sonata is Brahms at his best, with the violin’s lyrical effusiveness soaring above a wonderfully voiced piano line. Ashkenazy and Perlman are at their peaks in this recording, a flawless flowing performance that makes you feel goosebumps every time.
I first came across this concerto when I was starting high school, and completely fell in love with it. It was a dream come true when I got to perform it with WASO in 2017 for their WACE Set Works Concert, one of the best musical experiences of my career thus far. It’s such a delicious masterpiece, infused with impressionism and jazzy qualities, and every single instrument speaks for itself. The second movement is absolutely sublime, and one of the greatest moments in classical music.
Eight Concert Etudes Op. 40: No. 1 (Prelude) – Nikolai Kapustin
I first came across Kapustin’s music while listening to the Sydney International Piano Competition on the ABC in 2012, and I’ve been addicted ever since. Kapustin has written over 160 works with a very strong merging of classical and jazz – clearly classical structures yet the language is deeply jazzy with a fantastic sense of chord voicings, a good sense of improvised lines, and all written out note for note with immaculate detail and musicianship. I studied Kapustin’s music for my Honours project at UWA and had the opportunity to get in touch with many established concert pianists who have promoted Kapustin’s music from the very beginning, such as Marc-Andre Hamelin and Steven Osborne. The fact that Kapustin himself has recorded many of his own works is incredible – his formidable technique shines through in these eight concert etudes, and the opening etude provides an incredible impact in just 2 minutes! Sheer wizardry.
Waltz for Debby – Bill Evans
“Waltz for Debby” is a jazz standard composed by pianist Bill Evans. After his discharge from the military, Evans spent much time in the company of his young niece Debby, so much so that he was inspired to write a piano trio jazz waltz in her honour. The waltz instantly captures the heart and souls of listeners with its lyrical romanticism and its softness. Crafted with a simple melody and doted rich harmonies, it is one of Evans finest compositions, and often on repeat on my playlists.
One Summer’s Day (Spirited Away) – Joe Hisaishi
Spirited Away is one of Studio Ghibli’s best movies, and it is wonderful that it connects so many people from all over the globe no matter what their differences are. This music makes you feel so serene and peaceful, and when you listen to it you can imagine yourself in a different world apart. Mesmerising!
Hideaway – Jacob Collier
Jacob Collier possesses so much raw talent, that it’s almost unfair! His prowess on every instrument he plays, his understanding of harmony and rhythm, his use of technology and inventive visuals is mind-boggling yet amazing. Hideaway opens with a stunning layering of string playing that washes in and out, it melts away into a sparse trio of bass, vocals and percussion, with more instruments added as the song progresses, creating intricate countermelodies and enhancing the texture every time. What is truly remarkable is the way the piece can so quickly shift styles and focus, without ever feeling disjointed or out of place.
Velours – Anomalie
One of my favourite producers at the moment, Anomalie (otherwise known as Nicolas Dupuis) was originally a classically-trained pianist before developing a new sound, combining his innovative arrangements with a fusion of classical, jazz, hip-hop and funk. His Metropole EP is a masterpiece of modern funk music and electronic jazz – the strong grooves are what will immediately jump to you upon listening, and you can’t help but be caught by the flow. “Velours” is my favourite track from this album, showcasing Anomalie’s smooth keyboard acumen and effortless fusion of styles, with an unmistakable hip hop beat and a gloriously syncopated groove. It’s just so velvety and pleasant like an evening summer breeze in the city.
Back Pocket – Vulfpeck
From their “Thrill of the Arts” album of 2015, ‘Back Pocket’ is one of those songs that just bring an abundance of joy and happiness every time you listen to it. The song tells the all too relatable story of stumbling one’s way through apprehensive young love, but through a sneakily funky song. It showcases Vulfpeck’s minimalist approach to funk and talent for combining several simple rhythms into a cohesive and captivating tapestry of ‘less is more’. It also features an impressive solo trio of clarinets!! It really just reminds us of a time when things weren’t so complicated and hectic as they might be right now.