Reality Engine by David Bessell
The music on my latest album is inspired by literary short stories, in particular the works of Lord Dunsany, the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales and the fantastical worlds of Jorge Luis Borges.
The album is like a collection of short stories each designed as a temporary escape into another world, something we could probably all do with in the current times.
It also comes with some 360° immersive environments that can be viewed in virtual reality to further enhance the sense of escaping into another world.
David Bessell, Lecturer in Music
Lamentate by Arvo Pärt
A piece that I always go back to when I'm feeling down is Arvo Pärt's Lamentate.
Lying down for half an hour to take in this monumental work can sort out my foulest moods. Pärt manages to evoke such a range of emotions, from lament to ecstasy, that never fails to amaze me.
The composer describes the piece as a lament for the living, not the dead. I would recommend the piece to anyone who is feeling low and wants an emotionally uplifting experience.
Dr Nuria Bonet, Associate Lecturer
After the Gold Rush by Neil Young
This album has helped me get through some of the darker moments during this pandemic.
The lyrics to some of the songs are so simple yet resonate with me deeply and remind me of my home in Canada.
There is a coldness, but also positivity in some of the four-chord melodies that I can listen to over and over again and feel at peace.
Hedy Hurban, Postgraduate researcher at ICCMR
Moon River by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer (sung by Audrey Hepburn)
Actress Audrey Hepburn may not have the greatest voice (she was overdubbed in My Fair Lady) but her dusky rendition of this Mancini classic is perfection. Science tells us that lower tempos and major keys – found in Moon River – are related to positive relaxed moods, which makes them great for the lockdown blues. Mercer’s lyrics, hinting at the importance of human relationships and hope for a better future around the bend in life’s abundant river, are a timely reminder: even in these difficult – and for many lonely – times, there is hope for us in the future and in those we love.
Dr Alexis Kirke, Senior Research Fellow
Piano Sonata Op. 53 by Beethoven
This is a work that is boundless in its overall enthusiasm, but was born from a period of Beethoven’s deep depression regarding the onset of his deafness at age 32, when he was already highly regarded as an important musician. The worst malady to befall him, he struggled with how best to continue his work; this amazing piece was a result.
This is one of the many Beethoven Piano Sonatas that I have recorded and written about, and will feature in our upcoming Beethoven250 Festival in October on campus in Plymouth.
Dr Robert Taub, Director of Music, Arts Institute
Music at the University of Plymouth
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