Preston Classical Radio – Night Music

There are many Twitter people up quite late at night. Including me. I often prefer the stillness of the night as opposed to the rush of the day. It’s probably why I find nightclubs so absurd – trying to extend the rush of the day to the evening.

The nighttime Twitter companions are also connecting on a lovely, personal level at night, whether it’s about their days, on Words with Friends or sharing Craig Ferguson. Not literally, of course. Though I suspect many women would love to get a bit of Ferg. Or at least appear as the back end of Secretariat.

The night time has been well served by classical music over the years. There’s always the “Moonlight” Sonata by Beethoven, which has been played by many, many pianists over the years. Here are two versions – one by Wilhelm Kempff

And one on a replica of a piano from Beethoven’s time – which makes for an interesting comparison for just how much of a “night” piece the sonata movement is to our ears:

One of my favourite memories of my life as a piano accompanist for my mother was playing Mondnacht (Moonlight) by Schumann. It is one of the slipperiest, most difficult of songs to nail for a singer and a pianist. Deceptively simple.  Here are two interesting versions – one by one of the greatest singers of all times – Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (and, apparently, a 2 pack a day smoker!)

And, remarkably, a school student, Emily Turner.

And then there is Mahler, who spent a lot of his compositional life in the midst of dark. There is equal parts madness, cheesiness and flights of fancy.  No wonder Paul Keating rates him so highly. Here is the second Nachtmusik movement from his Seventh Symphony, conducted, appropriately, by the Paul Keating of the conducting world (only insofar as a physical resemblance), Claudio Abbado. Note the cheesy mandolin bits.

Then we have poor Franz Schubert. The man under appreciated by the society and the women of his time. His last sonata, the D960, has always been to me about his struggle with the night and how to capture it in music. Here is the first movement, played by Alfred Brendel.

And finally, my favourite night music. Bartok, who was shamefully underestimated by many in his adopted World War 2 era home of the US and by the time he was writing his 3rd Piano Concerto, he was suffering from leukaemia and near death. But the second movement of this concerto, to me, really tells us what it is like in the night-time.  It is played by one of my favourite modern pianists, Helene Grimaud. This music needs to be listened to with the lights off and the heart slowed.

I had originally intended to write a post about music for those who suffer from depression, especially in the light of a post written some months back by Ben Pobjie. But I think the night is the place where depression has its greatest attacks on those of us who suffer. And music gets me out of it so often.

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