LPO Player Playlists: Henry Baldwin

LPO Percussionist Henry Baldwin has put together a playlist of pieces of music that have inspired him throughout his musical life, or that spark a particular musical memory. See what music Henry has chosen, have a listen to his playlist and see if you share any favourites.

 

Henry Baldwin 

Baldwin 2

'My favourite pieces of music tend to mark significant points in my musical education and career. Here are a few highlights.

At age 13 I was lucky to receive a junior exhibition scholarship from West Sussex County Music Service to go to the Royal College of Music Junior Department. My first day was a nerve-wracking experience but sitting in the orchestra, and hearing that sound for the first time was an unforgettable experience. We rehearsed Brahms's Academic Festival Overture every Saturday for a term, and still to this day I think I can sing every part in the orchestra from start to finish from memory. Those Saturdays quickly became the highlight of my week and hearing the Brahms brings it all flooding back.

If sitting in RCMJD orchestra for the first time was exciting, sitting in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain took things to a new level. The repertoire for my first course was Wagner’s 'Prelude and Liebstod' from Tristan und Isolde, Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration, Debussy’s La Mer and Ravel’s La Valse. What a program! I could pick any one of these but I have chosen La Valse at it contains the first note I ever played with NYO. A wonderfully manic piece of music. I was so inspired by this work that it became the subject of my GCSE final art project.

Music in the city that never sleeps:

I was extremely fortunate to take advantage of the RCM's exchange program and spent the third year of my degree living and studying in New York. The Manhattan School of Music has one of the finest jazz programs in the world and New York is a Mecca for aspiring jazz musicians. Although I was supposed to be going to New York Philharmonic concerts, I spent the year going to the 55 bar and Village Vanguard with friends I made in the jazz department. Snarky Puppy are a Brooklyn based jazz collective I have discovered recently and listening to them reminds me of my wonderful year in the city that never sleeps.

Through Snarky Puppy, I have recently discovered Jacob Collier: a London based multi-instrumentalist. His arrangements have to be seen and heard to be believed (check out the YouTube versions). Created in a small room at his family home with a microphone, laptop, and an array of instruments, he plays and sings every note carefully over dubbing himself. He's probably our generation's Mozart, an utterly unique talent, working on a level that very few people in the world can comprehend.

For my final recital at the RCM I decided I wanted to acknowledge my experiences listening to jazz in New York. I discovered a wonderful album called Virtuosi by vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Makoto Ozone. They take classical masterpieces and create jazz arrangements. I spent hours and hours transcribing and then practicing their version of Le Tombeau de Couperin and I still love it which is a testament to the quality of their work. I recommend listening to the whole album as it has some real hidden treasures.

Becoming a professional musician:

I am very fortunate to be a founding member of Aurora Orchestra, now into its second decade. Many of the members are old friends from NYO and I have definitely had some of my greatest musical highlights with them. In 2015 we recorded one of our favourite pieces to perform, John Adams's Chamber Symphony, which has fiendishly difficult parts for every member of the ensemble. We all worked extremely hard in the recording sessions and the level of concentration was intense. We are very proud of the results.

One of my favourite things about working with the LPO is the opportunity to spend four months of the year discovering wonderful opera repertoire. Before focusing on orchestral percussion professionally, I actually spent three years playing timpani for different opera companies. I'm a huge fan of Richard Strauss. Performing Capriccio was a highlight of those three years. The moonlight music is a wonderfully reflective moment from the opera.

Whilst on trial for my job in the LPO, we performed a concert version of Peter Grimes with Stuart Skelton in the title role. If you ever get a chance to see him play Grimes, do not hesitate. Without doubt one of the best things I have ever been involved in. Jurowski's handling of the pace and balance was masterful.

Since being a member of the LPO, I have enjoyed listening to recordings of the orchestra past and present. The orchestra has a very distinguished lineage of principal conductors. For me, the Tennstedt era was a golden period. His Mahler recordings are sensational with the playing of the former principal trumpet Laurie Evans particularly sticking in the memory. I have to pick his recordings of Wagner as my favourites though. There is a wonderful YouTube film of Tennstedt and the LPO playing the funeral march from Götterdämerung in Tokyo's Suntory hall. It perfectly encapsulates the emotional intensity of his performances.'

Have a listen to Henry's playlist:

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You can read more about Henry Baldwin here.