Seclusion Discs – Flora Curzon

We have asked our tutors, while they are marooned in isolation, which 8 tracks mean the most to them, so we can share some new listening ideas with you and find out a bit more about them. This week, violinist Flora Curzon, introduces her picks.

Flora Curzon is best known for her musical versatility. Whilst she is firmly rooted in the Western Classical tradition, her horizons are broad: she is passionate about and well versed in many musical traditions from around the world and the role of improvisation in all music making.

Her unique combination musical interests and skills have sparked a fast growing and eclectic resumé of worldwide collaborations, performances and recordings, including work with many outstanding artists and ensembles.

“I’m lucky enough to be locked down with several music lovers who have introduced me to all sorts of new music over the last 6 weeks. So I’ve been enjoying a mixture of old favourites and new discoveries which I’m very excited to share with you.”

Track One: Bach – St John Passion (Sir John Eliot Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists)
My usual musical diet over the Easter period is a lot of JS Bach; this year I would have been touring Bach’s St John Passion with English Touring Opera, so I thought I would share with you a rendition of it which I absolutely love, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, sung by the Monteverdi Choir and played by English Baroque Soloists. I love how each movement keeps moving without ever feeling hurried.

Track Two: Bach – Sonata no. 1 for Violin and Harpsichord (Played by Lucy van Dael and Bob van Asperen)
I’ve also been feeding my Bach cravings in other ways. Lucy van Dael’s recording of Bach’s Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord are bringing me great joy right now, particularly No.1 in B Minor BWV 1014. The way she pulls out that first note and allows it to emerge from the harpsichord is just exquisite. I love the way this first Adagio flows – it’s sounds so natural it’s hard to imagine it written down.

Track Three: Enescu – Impressions d’enfance (Played by Sherban Lupu and Valentin Gheorghiu)
But Bach isn’t all I have been listening to. I have also been attempting to learn an absolutely stunning piece by George Enescu, ‘Impressions D’enfance’ performed here by the musical legends Sherban Lupu (violin), Valentin Gheorghiu (piano). I am particularly drawn to this piece because of the way it captures the spirit and sound world of traditional Romanian music; the first movement, for solo violin, reminds me so much of a meandering Romanian ‘doina’ – an arhythmic, highly ornamented, often improvised introduction to a set of tunes.

Track Four: Anna & Elizabeth – Long Time Travelling
As well as classical music, I am a great lover of many styles of traditional music and have recently discovered two incredible all-female duos. Anna & Elizabeth – traditional singers and instrumentalists from the USA – are performing here on Tiny Desk, starting with a particular favourite of mine, Long Time Travelling. I love the way their very different voices blend, and the purity in the harmonies stops me in my tracks.

Track Five: Brittany Haas & Lena Jonsson – Keeping the Cats Happy
The second is fiddle duo extroadinaire, Brittany Haas and Lena Jonsson. Brittany is steeped in American music, and Lena in her native Swedish. Together they bring the house down with interweaving melodies, tight harmonies and irresistible grooves.

Track Six: Shver Un Shviger (Played by Alicia Svigals)
Klezmer (Jewish music) also holds a deep place in my heart. This not-exactly-new record is a new discovery for me, and one which I listened to on repeat for a few days when I first discovered it. Here, Alicia Svigals, one of the Klezmer communities most renowned and stylish fiddle players, creates a really evocative sound world on this record, and performs many tunes which are now considered core Klezmer repertoire. For anyone wanting to hear or learn more Klezmer this is a great place to start!
Fidl – Alicia Svigals

Track Seven: Jamie Doe – Albatross
I’ve also been listening a lot to an album by my pal Jamie Doe (aka The Magic Lantern). ‘To the Islands’ is his third album, was released in 2018. I absolutely love his songwriting, and the instrumentation and production on this record is exquisite. This is his song ‘Albatross’, performed live at Abbey Road Studios.

Track Eight: Kate Tempest – Hold Your Own
Lastly, in a completely different vein, The latest Kate Tempest record, ‘The Book of Traps and Lessons’ (2019), could not have come at a better time for me. I found this album incredibly resonant and thought-provoking, even though it was written before Coronavirus hit. This track, Hold Your Own, one of the warmer tracks on the record, I found very inspiring and comforting.