Playlist for Children

by Emily Reese, Minnesota Public Radio
January 24, 2012

St. Paul, Minn. — My niece and nephew are nearly a year and a half old now. I adore them but don't get to see them as often as I'd like.

I made them this playlist recently, and once I actually send it, I'll be able to give you a full report on which pieces succeeded at getting the babes up and moving.

I went a bit Baroque-heavy for personal and practical reasons. Personally, it is, hands down, my favorite musical genre. I've always been in love with the intricacies of counterpoint, and I've always marveled at the Baroque masters' abilities to create beauty out of a compositional technique so riddled with rules.

Practically, Baroque music is so easy to dance to — I always think of bluegrass as modern-day (relatively speaking) Baroque music. You just can't help wiggle a little when you hear it.

I did end up adding some music with uneven tempi so my niece and nephew could start to hear what rubato sounds like (yes, some of which comes from the Baroque era).

1. Edvard Grieg, Holberg Suite, Op. 40 No. 1. Prelude. This serves as a friendly reminder of our Norwegian heritage!

2. Frederic Chopin, Nocturne, Op. 32 No. 1 in B

3-5. Johann Sebastian Bach, Brandenburg Concerto #5. The entire thing. Disclaimer: I totally love harpsichord, and there are few pieces as fun as this one in which to hear harpsichord. That cadenza in the first movement — man alive. Plus, there are such great moments between flute, harpsichord and violin, making it easy to help them learn instrument sounds.

6. Claude Debussy, Children's Corner: Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum. It goes by quickly, but I love the innocence captured in this piece by Debussy.

7-9. C.P.E. Bach, Sonata in G minor, Wq. 65/17. So far as I'm aware, Mikhail Pletnev is the only person to have recorded this (on the DG label). I adore this as much for its playful qualities as Debussy's work.

10. Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata, K. 119. Again, for my love of harpsichord, some of the happiest and most fun harpsichord music ever.

11. Johann Sebastian Bach, English Suite #1 in A, 1. Prelude.

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