5 Desert Island CDs From a Classical Music Maniac

Tuesday Dec 8 | BY |
| Comments (2)

What would you bring to a desert island? This fun question comes up once in a while, so I might as well share my list of music I could not live without! (A perfect “off-topic” article that will serve as a perfect excuse to offer musical gifts to yourself or others!)

First, I assume that the desert island in question has, at least, one outlet for charging an iPod/Smartphone, or CD player. Otherwise, what kind of dessert island is that! If you picked the wrong kind of desert island, you’d have to read my next article on “Desert Island Books.”

Next, here’s a secret: I’m addicted to classical music. Over the past three years, it’s been a huge passion of mine. This passion is not new since I studied music in college before deciding to pursue my path in health, natural hygiene, and raw foods.

I rekindled my passion when a friend took me to the symphony, after not attending for nearly two decades. It was a revelation, and I have been hooked every since!

When I discover something that I’m passionate about — I go all-in. Perhaps a bit excessively. But that’s my nature.

If I were stuck on a desert island for the rest of my life and could only bring a few CDs (or the equivalent), here’s my list. I would have to pick works I could listen to over and over again and always find something new.

5 Desert Island CDs From a Classical Music Maniac

71CRMs4927L._SX522_Beethoven: Late String Quartets

Imagine Beethoven, almost completely deaf by the end of his life — after the premiere of his 9th symphony — searching for the meaning of life and death. These are the last pieces that he wrote, and are his most intimate and spiritual works. These may not be works that you will not love right away, but they will reward repeat listenings for a lifetime. It’s well worth the time because they’re without a doubt some of the greatest works in the entire history of all music.

This CD set is ridiculously cheap and contains all of Beethoven’s string quartets. 

51Qg7QQohQLMozart: Piano Concertos

Mozart is sublime. And his piano concertos are an amazing treasure box full of gems. The piano concerto #21 remains my all-time favorite piece of music — the last thing I want to hear before I die.  Perhaps because it’s the first piece of classical music that made an impression on me, discovered at age 18.  Whenever you revisit them the piano concertos, you find something new! Even the early ones are great. This CD set is an amazing value. 

51HFHZ6WbVLBach: The Well Tempered Clavier

If I could send music into space for alien civilizations to assess our culture, it would have to be Bach — particularly the Well-Tempered Clavier. They would immediately recognize the absolute logic and order behind them. Hopefully, they’d also hear their amazing beauty and spiritual inspiration. This is the classic interpretation. The recording takes place in a church and actually adds an extra layer of spirituality to it. 

51vbFMzlB9LMozart: Le Nozze de Figaro

Remember the Shawshank Redemption? I loved when Tim Robbins’ character gets into trouble for playing the Marriage of Figaro loud on the prison speakers!

Possibly the greatest work of art in all of opera equaled only by Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, and the Magic Flute… also by Mozart! This recording is particularly exciting and lively. 


Bartok: String Quartets

On a desert island, I would also need some exciting modern music. Bartok is ideal for those lonely nights staring at the moon. This music may sound uncompromising and chaotic, at first, but once you let it come to you, you’ll want to revisit these pieces over and over again. Are you brave enough for Bartok’s quartets? If so, you’re in for a wild ride! Get this CD. 


5 More CDs

If there was space in the luggage, I would bring those as well…


Schubert: Late Sonatas

Someone wrote, “Some melodies stay in your mind. Schubert stays in your soul.”

This is particularly true of his last sonatas, played masterfully by Andras Schiff, who dug out the original scores and played them with absolutely historical accuracy and great feeling. This is an amazing CD. 


51GBlA0YBfLBrahms: Piano Concerto #1

I just love Brahm’s first piano concerto. In the first movement, the first theme is the deepest expression of rage and despair, and the second theme is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and touching melody every written. What a contrast!  The second concerto is also great and perhaps even superior in terms of composition, but #1 gets me every time! This is considered the best performance. 


51rrkwFOPXLHaydn: Opus 76 String Quartets

Hadyn makes you smile — constantly! The man had unbelievable wit and imagination. When you think he’s starting off a piece with an almost childish melody, he finds a way to turn it into a sublime masterpiece. It’s quite a gift. And yet, these string quartets are full of great moments you can never tire of hearing them. This is one of my favorite CDs. 

41rB+QmFxLLMahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde

Possibly Mahler’s greatest work (along with his second symphony) and the ultimate philosophical musing on life, death, and destiny — put into music. Try to follow it along with the words. If the ending doesn’t take your breath away, then nothing will.

This CD is from my hometown boy Yannick, the rock-star conductor that everyone loves, and it does rock (as much as Mahler can rock…) 

51CEJeg3IYL._SS280Dvorak: Cello Concerto

I’m just a complete sucker for the Dvorak Cello Concerto! It’s the romantic piece that gets me every time.

To paraphrase Robert Greenberg, professor of music: in the second movement some passages are so beautiful that my goosebumps get goosebumps! This classic CD is just perfect. 



Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Thanks so much for this. I will make sure they are all in my collection. I am lucky to live in SoCal, so I do listen to KUSC all the time. (Except when I am listening to the songs I am trying to memorize, on my commutes). It is not easy to choose. I am always asking myself who my favorite composer is, and in Libra form, having trouble making a decision. When pushed, I guess I have to choose Beethoven, because his music always makes me cry. (As does most other beautiful music). However, my list would include my favorite genre of music, the Requiem. I would have to have the Durufle and Mozart, maybe even the Faure. I know it is hokey but yesterday they played the Artur Rubenstein Rachmaninov Piano Concerto in C minor, which makes me cry, literally sob all the way through. Just way too romantic. I love all the composers you have chosen. Aren’t we lucky to have so much beauty in the world.

    • Hi Rainbow! Good choice on Beethoven. He’s the most humanitarian composer and of course the most revolutionary musician of ALL time! Not an opinion — a fact! 🙂 I’d never heard the Requiem by Durufle but your post made me want to check it out. It’s amazingly beautiful. The Kyrie is otherworldly, especially in the organ-only version. Thanks!

    Comments are closed for this post.