Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2008 by Fred Flaxman

Program 143
"Moonlight"



MUSIC: Glenn Miller: Moonlight Serenade performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra [RCA Victor / BMG Classics 09026-68490-2, track 2] [3:20, under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

For hundreds of years, moonlight has served as inspiration for many different composers. And “Moonlight” is our inspiration for the next hour.

In the background now is the Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller with Glenn Miller and his Orchestra from an RCA Victor BMG Classics compact disc. The original recording was made on August 1, 1939.

After this we’ll listen to one of Beethoven’s most famous pieces, the Moonlight Sonata; one of Debussy’s best-known works, Clair de Lune, which means “moonlight” in French; as well as Fishing by Moonlight by Robin Milford; Variations on “Au Clair de la Lune” by Charles Lucièn Lambert, Sr.; and moonlight-inspired works by Gabriel Fauré, Camille Saint-Saëns, Glen Miller, Hamilton Harty, and Charles Davidson, as well as a Russian folk song called Such a Moonlit Night.

MUSIC: back to normal volume until end of piece


Let’s get started with the two most famous “moonlight” pieces from the classical repertoir: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, also known as his Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, and Debussy’s piano piece, Clair de Lune. Our pianist for the Beethoven is Eugene Istomin. This is from a 1996 Reference Recordings compact disc.

MUSIC: Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata performed by Eugene Istomin [Reference Recordings RR-69CD, tracks 1, 2, 3] [15:10]

The Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. The pianist was Eugene Istomin. Our theme this hour of Compact Discoveries is “Moonlight,” which is Clair de Lune in French.

MUSIC: Debussy: Clair de Lune performed by pianist Jacques Rouvier [Denon 33C37-7734, track 3] [4:25]

Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy. The pianist was Jacques Rouvier.

Robin Milford was born in Oxford, England in 1903. He was educated at a prep school, Rugby and the Royal College of Music. There his teachers were Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. He was faced with a common problem of most composers of his time: that of making a living while trying to be a full-time composer. He taught at a prep school and later at evening classes, he copied music and he corrected and edited piano rolls. But that business came to a sudden end along with the sales of player pianos as a result of the stock market crash of 1929 and the growing popularity of recorded music.

And Milford had another problem: he wrote beautiful, conventional tonal music in an age of experimentation. He came from a family of high achievers, his father being Sir Humphrey Milford, the celebrated publisher of the Oxford University Press. Robin Milford had constant self-doubts and made several suicide attempts, finally succeeding, most unfortunately, in 1959. I say “most unfortunately,” because it prevented him from creating any more compositions like Fishing by Moonlight.

MUSIC: Milford: Fishing by Moonlight performed by the Guildhall Strings [Hyperion CDA67444, track 1] [6:33]

Robin Milford’s Fishing by Moonlight for piano and strings, Op. 96a. The pianist was Julian Milford. He performed with the Guildhall Strings on a Hyperion compact disc recording.

You are listening to “Moonlight” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute station break not included in the total timing for the program.]

Next a short piece from the foremost Irish composer of the early 20th Century: Sir Hamilton Harty. He lived from 1879 until 1941, and was also a brilliant pianist and conductor. He wrote a series of Fantasy Scenes from an Eastern Romance. One of them is called Lonely in Moonlight. In this Naxos recording the Ulster Orchestra is conducted by Takuo Yuasa.

MUSIC: Harty: Lonely in Moonlight from Fantasy Scenes (from an Eastern Romance) performed by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa [Naxos 8.557731, track 4] [2:37]

Lonely in Moonlight by Sir Hamilton Harty. Takuo Yuasa conducted the Ulster Orchestra.

Charles Lucièn Lambert, Senior, who lived from 1828 until 1896, was one of the so-called “Creole Romantic” musical dynasties of New Orleans. He was equally adept as a composer and pianist. He even engaged in what was called “cutting contests” with fellow Orleanian Louis Moreau Gottschalk before they went to France for advanced musical studies. These pioneering black American composers helped to develop a link between European concert music, ragtime and jazz.

Here’s Lambert’s Variations on “Au Clair de la Lune” minus one variation which I could not fit in the time alloted.

MUSIC: Lambert: Variations on “Au Clair de la Lune” from the 1999 Hot Springs Music Festival [Naxos 8.559037, track 13] [7:43]

My slightly edited version of Charles-Lucièn Lambert Senior’s Variations on “Au Clair de la Lune”. This was from the 1999 Hot Springs Music Festival Naxos compact disc recording. The pianist was Yi-Chun Sunny Kuo.

We’re going to switch now into some choral moonlight music. First Charles Davidson’s Softly Shines the Moonlight, then Such a Moonlit Night from the Red Army Chorus’ “Moonlight Over Moscow” album, and finally two more Clair de Lunes: one by Gabriel Fauré and the other by Camille Saint-Saëns.

MUSIC: Davidson: Softly Shines the Moonlight performed by the Finchley Children’s Music Group conducted by Nicholas Wilks [Naxos 8.559436, track 7] [3:25]

MUSIC: Traditional: Such a Moonlit Night performed by the Red Army Chorus [BMG/Melodiya 74321-32043-2, track 14] [3:56]

MUSIC: Fauré: Clair de Lune from Masques et Bergamasques, Op. 112, performed by the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse conducted by Michel Plasson [EMI Classics 094639772223, CD 1, track 11] [3:13]

MUSIC: Saint-Saëns: Clair de Lune performed by baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with pianist Hartmut Höll [Warner Classics WCJ 2564 64471-2, track 15] [1:30]

Four choral pieces and songs inspired by moonlight: First we heard Charles Davidson’s Softly Shines the Moonlight from his 1967 composition A Singing of Angels, performed by the Finchley Children’s Music Group conducted by Nicholas Wilks on a Naxos recording. Next we listened to the traditional Russian folksong Such a Moonlit Night, performed by the Red Army Chorus on a BMG/Melodiya compact disc.

Then Gabriel Fauré’s Clair de Lune from Masques et Bergamasques, Op. 112, with lyrics from the poem by Paul Verlaine, performed by the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse conducted by Michel Plasson on an EMI Classics CD. And finally we heard another version of Clair de Lune, this time by Camille Saint-Saëns. It was performed by baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with pianist Hartmut Höll on a Warner Classics release.

MUSIC: Glenn Miller: Moonlight Serenade performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra [RCA Victor / BMG Classics 09026-68490-2, track 2] [under the following]

And that brings this hour of Compact Discoveries to a close. This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening. Thanks also to Walter Meyer, Caroline Hirasawa and Raymond Bisha for their foreign language pronunciation aid.

MUSIC: fades out

This program is a presentation of WPVM, Asheville, North Carolina, a broadcast service of the Mountain Area Information Network.

ANNOUNCER [Steve Jencks]: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at bretnor dot com, b-r-e-t-n-o-r dot com; and by Educate Yourself for Tomorrow, an on-line guide to 37 different Liberal Arts courses for personal development, including “Mozart and the Evolution of Western Music.” On the web at onlinehumanities.com.

Program Ends at 57:23


 
  ©2008 Compact Discoveries