Listen to our Autumn Playlist 2016
21st October 2016
Autumn is here, and to celebrate the turning of the seasons we've put together this playlist to share with you all.
The evenings are drawing in, mornings are frosty, and the leaves are a beautiful collage of red and gold. Autumn is a season of natural beauty, calm and reflection as well as change, bringing the first hint of winter weather and preparing us for the colder months to come. Autumn has inspired many composers including Tchaikovsky and Strauss to write beautifully reflective music. Here's our playlist...
Tchaikovsky - The Seasons, Op. 37b: X. October; Autumn's Song
After the heady days of summer, what better way to begin our playlist than with this gentle and delicate piece by the great Russian master. Capturing the calm beauty of this most colourful season, the piano's meanderings are almost dance-like, and the work's dreamlike ebb and flow perfectly conjures up the image of a misty October morning.
Sir Arnold Bax – November Woods
Bax's tone poem, composed in 1917, is a perfect example of British music's early 20th Century preoccupation with nature and the tone poem. Musical paintings evoking great landscapes and the natural world were all the rage (think Holst, Elgar, Ireland) - and this is no exception. A departure from other pieces in this playlist which imagine the season as peaceful, nostalgic and even magical, Bax described his tone poem as the "dank and stormy music of nature in the late autumn", orchestrating blustery wind and squalls of rain, as unpredictable and wild as British autumnal weather can be!
Autumn In New York - Vernon Duke
This classic from Frank Sinatra's endless repertoire was composed, as so many of these songs were, for a Broadway revue. Enduring far beyond the five-month run of Thumbs Up! this timeless refrain walks us through streets of the great city that are thronged with dreamers, lovers and all things American Songbook.
Strauss – Four Last Songs, ‘September’
Strauss' For Last Songs are among the composer's final works. The four songs were collected into the set posthumously, and given this title by his friend Ernst Roth who published them two years later in 1950. The works for the most part are concerned with the end of life, so often associated with autumn as the season when nature's cycle approaches its wintry sleep. "September" is a setting of poetry by Hermann Hesse in which he an autumnal garden. The song closes with the lines, "For just a while he tarries beside the roses, yearning for repose. Slowly he closes his weary eyes." The music is peaceful, beautiful, and contented.
Imogen Holst – The Fall of the Leaf (1963)
This piece for solo cello by Imogen Holst (1907-1984) flits between skittering gusts of notes and suspended, floating melody, bringing to mind the peaceful stillness of an autumn walk insterrupted by flurries of crisp leaves. The only child of the composer Gustav Holst, Imogen was known equally for her work in education, and jointly ran the Aldegburgh Festival for twenty years where she was close friends with Benjamin Britten. Something of the bleak beauty of the marshy Suffolk coastline comes across in this piece - wide and empty, yet on closer inspection full of life.
Les Feuilles Mortes - Kosma/Prévert/Mercer
Very commonly performed in English as Autumn Leaves, this song is an old favourite of the jazz scene and is performed the world over. Its wistful lyrics mourn the lost days of summer, but the nostalgia of this song is precisely its appeal - "I miss you most of all, my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall". Rather than choose between English and its native French, here is the inimitable Edith Piaf with both, languishing in the rubato of the orchestra.
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