Music for Springtime

Apr 5, 2017

The change in season comes with a change of musical taste, right? Spring certainly highlights some works in the minds of NWPR staff - so we asked the question: Which works make us think of spring?

The NWPR classical music team was in agreement – Mahler is the voice of this season. His Symphony No. 1 was suggested by Gigi Yellen, Steve Reeder and me. But why? “I suspect the combination of the halting, hesitant buildup, the folkdance elements, and (especially) the bird calls generate that effect” says Steve. Gigi is also enticed by the folk-like music in the first movement. “[It’s] a tune from Mahler's own Songs of a Wayfarer, which starts with "I went out this morning over a field," and feels like a swing through a woods newly alive. A spring in the step.”

It’s clear Mahler tops the list – but what else are your hosts and NWPR staff listening to now that spring has sprung?

To Steve, the flute suggests springtime. “I nominate Francois-Joseph Gossec's Tambourin. It has a light and airy quality--a specifically French nonchalance--that speaks to the change of seasons (and attitudes).”

Gigi suggests spring is the perfect time for madrigals from Thomas Morley and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.

And speaking of Beethoven, Hannah Whisenant listens to his Sonata No. 17 “The Storm” come springtime. “In the first movement, I feel like it’s just the tentative beginning of spring, when you’re not really sure if it’s still winter or if spring is finally winning over…In the second movement, it’s peaceful, sunny and calm, like when that first real day of spring warms your face (with some distant, threatening rumbles - winter isn’t quite done, yet!)” She then spoke of how Beethoven seemed to have a lot of fun with that Sonata. “[That’s] what spring is for me: fun.”

Jordan Eby answered with "Morning Mood" from Grieg’s Peer Gynt. “It sounds like waking up in the morning, greeted by the sun and birds - that sounds like spring to me.”

Other staff picks include Debussy’s Reverie and Grieg’s Piano Concerto.

As for me, besides the Mahler, a good orchestral version of Ravel’s tombeau de Couperin is reminiscent of blooming - shaking the sleepiness of winter with the newfound energy of spring. Steve is definitely on to something with the suggestion that woodwinds are very spring-like.

Steve and I will join you for a spring-filled Friday program April 14 - tune in to hear Mahler, Ravel, Beethoven and more from 9 am to 4 pm on the NPR and Classical Music Service of NWPR.