Night and Music

Published: Mar 30 2021

What makes Beethoven’s famous sonata so moonlit? Why does a lullaby feel like a warm blanket? What are the ingredients of a nocturne? Aren’t crickets and frogs neat?

There is a wealth of classical music about and of the night. The simultaneous contemplative introspection and moonlit mystery, the warmth or anxiety of sleep, the night sounds heard with heightened ears—the dark hours have been a rich source of inspiration for centuries of music.

Featuring recordings of pianist Jian Liu (among others), we survey some of the approaches composers have taken in making music about the night.

This episode features the following recordings:

  • Ludwig van BEETHOVEN | Piano Sonata No 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op 27 No 2, “Moonlight Sonata”. Performed by Michael Houstoun. Rattle Records.

  • Franz SCHUBERT (Ludwig Christoph Heinrich HÖLTY, poet) | An den Mond. Performed by Julien van Mellaerts and James Baillieu. Radio New Zealand.

  • Vincenzo BELLINI | “Casta Diva” from Norma. Performed by Maria Callas and The Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan under Tullio Serafin.

  • Frederic CHOPIN | Nocturne No 7, Op 27 No 1. Performed by Sándor Falvai. Naxos.

  • Clara WIECK-SCHUMANN | “Notturno” from Soirées Musicales, Op 6 No 2. Performed by Michael Landrum. Sono Luminus.

  • Charles IVES | Central Park in the Dark. Northern Sinfonia under James Sinclair. Naxos.

  • Béla BARTÓK | “The Night’s Music” from Out of Doors. Performed by Jian Liu for this podcast.

  • R. Murray SCHAFER | Clarinet Nocturne from Patria. Performed by Judy Loman. Opening Day Entertainment Group Inc.

  • Frederic CHOPIN | Berceuse, Op 57. Performed by Jian Liu for this podcast.

  • Robert SCHUMANN (Joseph von EICHENDORFF, poet)| “Zwielicht” from Liederkreis, Op 39. Performed by Thomas E. Bauer and Uta Hielscher. Naxos.

  • Robert SCHUMANN | “In der Nacht” from Fantasiestücke, Op 12. Performed by Jian Liu for this podcast.

  • Gillian WHITEHEAD | Lullaby for Matthew. Performed by Jian Liu for this podcast.

  • The Programme Notes title music is a collage of the endings of Béla Bartók's six string quartets.

Written by Hamish Robb

Presented by Clarissa Dunn

Produced by Elliot Vaughan

for Chamber Music New Zealand