Evoking a Natural World Through Music

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, one of the birds whose song is part of our challenge Birdsong is often a muse for composers. (jassen/flickr)

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

Comments [4]

Adele Fisher from Nassau County, Long Island

Really enjoy this music. Tonight's best for me was Ann Southam's piano piece, "Rivers." I will try to find sheet music for it so I can try playing it.
I love being introduced to music unfamiliar to me. Thanks.

Jan. 28 2017 10:54 PM
Spritelink from New York City

I really enjoyed the program on 'evoking sounds of the natural world' tonight, and especially appreciated hearing the more recent compositions that I am unfamiliar with and want more exposure to. Thanks for bringing The Furthermore to WQXR listeners.

Jan. 28 2017 10:38 PM
Lorna Salzman from Brooklyn NY

Where on earth did you get the idea that the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata was the second movement? Do your homework. The sonata has three movements and the first is the slow one you used to suggest it was
connected to water. I am really really surprised at you! I thought you were more knowledgeable than the other amateurs on WQXR who can't pronounce foreign names. Please make an on the air apology for the ridiculous erroneous identification of this sonata. (And if you think the other sonata in opus 27
was part of this one, you are also mistaken. Sonata quasi una fantasia is a
very delightful offbeat sonata on its own and has nothing to do with the Moonlight. Gee whiz.....I cant believe you did this. But of course most listeners are just as clueless.

Jan. 28 2017 10:08 PM
Me from New York

The way you just silently went from Beethoven to whoever this "new age" hack Japanese guy was really vile. If you are in any way trying to equate these two works, you're out of your mind, and you are really insulting Beethoven to just sequeway into the Japanese hack without any kind of intervening announcement, as if they were the same piece.

Why don't you stop destroying other people's music like that?

Jan. 28 2017 09:42 PM

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