Entertainment Music

Monday 19 March 2018

Music to match these wintry days

Music for when snow falls seemed like a good starting point. Somebody else got there first. Classical Music for When Snow Falls is the subtitle of an album of sumptuous treats called Winter Dreams (Delta, 018111642224), which I've mentioned here before.

All the usual suspects are there: Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, a song from Schubert's Winterreise (Winter Journey), and the adagio from Tchaikovsky's First Symphony, to which he gave the name Winter Daydreams.

You'd hardly be surprised to discover it is the Russians who are the masters at evoking winter in their music. Another CD with 'winter' in its title, Winterträume -- Winter Dreams (Berlin Classics, 8578), pays them due homage.

Though Winter Daydreams doesn't figure, Tchaikovsky provides three of the eleven tracks -- the finale from Swan Lake, his Serenade Melancolique for violin and orchestra, and, inevitably, given its place at the heart of Christmas, something from his Nutcracker, in this case the delightful Waltz of the Flowers.

It isn't so much that the music specifically relates to the seasons, it's more the mood and sentiments it evokes. So you have a section of the Alexander Borodin masterpiece In The Steppes of Central Asia, conjuring up the vastness, the solitude, indeed the loneliness of a landscape on this scale.

The opening track, the dazzingly upbeat overture from Mikhail Glinka's opera Ruslan and Lyudmila, could even be interpreted as music to warm your

hands by. The waltz from Aram Khachaturian's Masquerade is another piece to keep you moving.

The specific tone colours of Russian Romantic music -- much of it drawing its influence from folk tunes -- lend a flavour all of their own when it comes to evoking emotions. Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto, represented not by the popular opening but by its lesser known concluding movement, is a good example of this.

There's piano music, too, from Alexander Scriabin, the challenging and dramatic Etude No 12 in D Sharp Minor.

Not, then, music specifically about the snow. Rather music to match the mood. As long as the fire is blazing, and the heating is turned up full, there's scope for the aural enhancement of winter scenes. With this kind of music playing, I'm with Dean Martin all the way: "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow".

George Hamilton presents The Hamilton Scores on RTÉ lyric fm from 9.30 each Saturday morning. ghamilton@independent.ie

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