Autumn Playlist by Paul Hughes

We asked our new acting Managing Director to create an Autumn Spotify Playlist which you can listen at home. Here is what Paul has put together and why.

We open and close with piano solos by two composers who almost certainly never met.  The first of these is Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, whilst not specifically about autumn depicts one of most colourful sights of the season, performed here by Joshua Rifkin. 

Lana del Rey follows with her Season of the Witch, taken from the movie soundtrack of Scary Stories, reminding us that Halloween and stories told round the fireplace at night are not far away, and leads us into Lorena McKennitt’s haunting All Souls Night.

The French composer Cecile Chaminade wrote her passionate, exquisite miniature Automne in 1893 and it is surely one of the best-loved of more than 400 works she wrote in her long life. 

Frederick Delius lived much of his life in France, but had been born in Bradford, and wrote North Country Sketches on the eve of WW1.  We will hear Autumn, the first movement, followed by Edward Elgar’s setting of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s poem A Song of Autumn.

I’ve long enjoyed three versions of Autumn in the form of violin concertos, from Argentina, Italy and the USA, and performed here by Gideon Kramer and his band Kremerata Baltica.     Astor Piazolla’s Orono Porteno is part of his Four Seasons of Bueno Aires, followed by his inspiration, Antonio Vivaldi’s Autumn, and concluding this section with two movements from Philip Glass’s second violin concerto The American Four Seasons. Whilst not technically autumn – the listener is invited to decide which season attaches to while movements – I have chosen Song No 2 and Movement 3.

The mood shifts now as Stan Getz’s quartet plays ‘Tis Autumn, a wonderful jazz standard by Henry Nemo and leads us into a vocal section featuring two of my jazz heroes, Nat King Cole singing Autumn Leaves, followed by the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong singing Autumn in New York.   The great American soprano Renee Fleming closes this section with Richard Strauss’s autumnal September, the second of his Four Last Songs.  

I recently discovered a wonderfully atmospheric short solo piano work by the Chinese composer Lü. Wencheng, his Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake, written in the 1930s, and this is followed by On the Troika from Tchaikovsky’s Seasons, suggesting the snows of November have already arrived.

Alexander Glazunov’s glorious one-act ballet The Seasons, premiered in 1900, ends this autumnal selection. Scene 4 – Autumn and his Grande Bacchanale des Saisons, followed by the Petit Adagio.