What We’re Listening To: Classics Edition

Sweeties, here's a peek at what we’ve been listening to lately. This time, we’ve inadvertently created a “classics edition” featuring pop standards, a tried-but-true podcast, and classical music given fresh interpretations.

Bach Trios by Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer. Here at B-Sweeties HQ, few days go by without some Bach, which made it a no-brainer to snap up this CD as soon as it became available last year. It took a few listens to adjust to the idea –and sound - of a mandolin (played by maestro Chris Thile) interpreting such favorites as Sonata No 6 in G Major, but the beautiful interplay between Ma’s cello, Meyer’s bass and Thile’s mandolin is seamless and seductive, for lack of a better word. As the ol’ VJs used to say, this one’s on heavy rotation.


Music by Composers of African Descent by Samuel Nebyu. Just released this week, Hungarian-Ethiopian violinist Samuel Nebyu takes listeners on a journey as he explores his own African heritage by playing pieces by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Henry Thacker Burleigh, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Clarence Cameron White – all of whom were also mixed race. For this debut album, pianist Bethany Brooks accompanies Nebyu, and together, the two delve into compositions that remain relatively unfamiliar. It’s a fascinating exercise, wonderfully played.

You Must Remember This podcast by Karina Longworth. We admit we love stories of old Hollywood so it’s curious that it took us so long to discover this podcast. Each series has a theme, i.e. “Dead Blondes”, or “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford”, or “Star Wars”, (which is about celebrity squabbles, not Jedis) so if you’re just catching up, like we are, you can pick a pet topic and start from there. The presentation is amusing – movie clips, retro jazz, a slow delivery, and (somewhat annoyingly) careful enunciation, but the stories are wonderfully researched and brilliantly told. Play it again, Sam!

Nat King Cole & Me by Gregory Porter. We were lucky enough to have an inadvertent preview of this album when we attended a Porter concert in Hong Kong. He sang Mona Lisa as an encore and truly brought the house down – really, Sweeties, why there is still a roof on the Cultural Centre we don’t know. Porter’s buttery baritone and sensitive style is the perfect match for these classic tunes by Nat King Cole, whom young Porter, growing up without a dad, looked to for fatherly advice – “straighten up and fly right”; “smile though your heart is aching” and so on. It’s a touching recording and like everything Porter does, we’re in love wit it. Sigh, Sweeties.