Each month we ask a musician to share a piece they love and tell us why
Caroline Shaw: Plan and Elevation
This is one of the few pieces of classical music that I’ve fallen in love with purely through listening to a recording of it rather than hearing it in a concert or playing it myself, although I do hope to one-day experience a live performance of this piece or even have the opportunity to perform it myself. From a listener’s perspective it has moments of textural and harmonic beauty accompanied by passages of weird and wonderful timbres, sparkling polyrhythms and complete chaos. From a violinist’s perspective it sounds like an absolute joy to play, which really comes across from the Attacca Quartet’s fantastic recording of this work.
This piece treads the line between avant-garde composition and familiar, homelier and more traditional musical language exceptionally well in my view. There are moments in the music that I feel, had they been executed slightly differently, could have sounded cheesy or clichéd. The elegance and ingenuity of the writing, however, results in these moments being some of the most meaningful and touching passages in the piece. I feel simultaneously comfortable and musically invigorated when I listen to this piece. The influence of Ravel can clearly be heard in many aspect of the piece, listen out for quotes from his String Quartet in F major as well as samples from some of Mozart’s work.
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I am a Welsh violinist based in Manchester with a wealth of experience playing in chamber groups, orchestras and as a soloist. After studying music at the University of Manchester I am now studying for a master’s degree under Leland Chen at the Royal Northern College of Music. Living in Manchester has given me the opportunity to play, record and perform with a wide range of ensembles in a variety of musical styles and traditions including contemporary classical, jazz, folk and klezmer. As well as playing the violin, I spend much of my time giving violin lessons to people of all ages.