It's always nice to have the opportunity to revisit works that you love. Sometimes it can be very comforting; a Brahms 4 in the middle of a patch of lots of contemporary music can be a bit like the musical equivalent of sitting down in your favourite snugly jumper to enjoy a heartening, restorative bowl of soup.
Sometimes, it can take you back to a very specific time in your life. For example, Walton 1 always reminds me of the time I didn't clean my contact lenses properly, and ended up with a lacerated cornea.
However, sometimes a work connects with you on a slightly deeper level, for no real reason, and once performed you keep hoping for another opportunity to play it. In the last two weeks, I've had the opportunity to revisit two such works; one that I find deeply moving, and the other that I enjoy in a much more abstract manner.
I first discovered Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony when I played it in college. I found the work deeply affecting at the time, and it was with great excitement that I spotted its appearance on our schedule - it really isn't performed very often.
The music is dense and intricately scored, and to me, it at times sounds like very, very dark Mahler. The soprano and baritone never sing together, but rather sing individual movements. The work charts desire, love, the desire to be free again, separation and resignation, and Zemlinsky's sensuous, at times unrestrained, whilst at other times, very sparse writing, allows the journey of the couple's affair to be played out in audio technicolour.
This work moved me so much when I first heard it - especially the bit where the baritone obsessively repeats 'du bist meine eigen' - and it was a real pleasure not only to revisit it, but to find myself as moved by it the second time around.
The second work to which I refer is Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances. I love it for no other reason than I find it a tremendously fun work to play. I love the driving rhythms, the great tunes, the contrast of the movements, pretty much everything about it.
It's only in my own preparation before rehearsals start that I remember how tricky the Dances actually are. There are a few moments in each movement where rhythmically, melodically, or with the bowings, you can find yourself being caught out if you haven't had a little look at it beforehand. This only seems to make the work more enjoyable - it is somewhat challenging, but so musically satisfying you don't really mind!
It's difficult to know what makes you love one work, and yet be left completely cold by another. I know so many people who like to gush over the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, and yet, as I'm sure I've said before, it just does nothing for me. You can't always play works you love, or even works you like, but seeing them appear on the schedule always gives your heart a little cheer.