Evoking a Natural World Through Music

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Birdsong is often a muse for composers.

Using music to evoke the natural world is an ancient tradition, and one that continues today. This time on The Furthermore, we hear some familiar natural scenes depicted in the music of Beethoven and Wagner, but we’ll hear how that tradition has been extended by composers like Canada’s Ann Southam, Japan’s Takashi Kako and Finland’s Einojuhani Rautavaara, who actually wrote a concerto where the “soloist” was the taped sounds of Arctic birds.

Program playlist:

Trad. Old English: Sumer Is Icumen In
— The Hilliard Ensemble

Benjamin Britten: Song From Friday Afternoon: Cuckoo
— Choir Of Downside School, Purley (Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack)

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus: The Bog
— Leif Segerstam/Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Richard Wagner: Forest Murmurs, from Siegfried
— Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; James Levine, conductor

Einojuhani Rautavaara – Cantus Arcticus: Melancholy
— Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam, conductor

Ludwig Van Beethoven: Adagio sostenuto, from Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 "Moonlight”
— Mikhail Pletnev, piano

Takashi Kako: Church On The Water
— Takashi Kako, piano

Ann Southam: Rivers, Set 2, No. 4
— Christina  Petrowska Quilico, piano

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus: Swans Migrating
— Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam, conductor

John Luther Adams: Mourning Dove, excerpt; from “Songbirdsongs”
— Anne McFarland and Michel Cook, flute and ocarina; Kevin Culver, ocarina and percussion; Tim Embry, Scott Douglas and John Luther Adams, percussion