'A Little Night Music'

A series of online videos were published regularly on the SMSG Willis organ YouTube Channel from January to May 2021. We are delighted that local musician Joe Laredo had the idea for a series of night time inspired music videos featuring his piano playing. Joe has played in several concerts in St Mary & St Giles Church in the past few years, including the memorable and highly entertaining Happy 175th birthday Edvard Grieg, Mud, Mud, glorious mud tribute to Flanders & Swann and Plenty ‘o Nuttin’ in the 1930s. All through 2020 Joe was planning a concert in St Mary & St Giles church for the 250th Birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven on 17 December 2020, involving several musicians, however sadly the concert had to be cancelled due to the pandemic restrictions.

Joe explains the inspiration for ‘A little night music’: “Winter is a time of long nights ... and night has always been an inspiration for composers ... which gave me the idea for this series of informal performances of piano pieces connected with night time."

'A Little Night Music' playlist

Joe Laredo plays Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata which features photos of the music and Joe Laredo at the piano, St Mary & St Giles Church at night, the moon and Lake Lucerne at dusk or night.

Joe Laredo plays Oliver Drechsel's 'Dreaming of E' inspired by Beethoven's famous ‘Für Elise’ and features paintings of Beethoven as a young man and some of the musical young women Beethoven knew at the time.

Joe Laredo plays Robert Schumann's 'Wiegenliedchen' which features Schumann, his children and paintings or pictures of babies around the world in their cradles.

Joe Laredo plays 'Moonrise' and 'Silent Hills' from 'The Hills of Fairyland' by Dorothy Pilling and features pictures of the moon, fairies and shepherds with sheep on the hills at night time.

Joe Laredo plays 'Berceuse' by Burgmüller which features paintings of babies and children being soothed to sleep, a child playing the piano and the only online picture of Burgmüller.

Joe Laredo plays 'Am Abend' and 'Notturno' by Hofmann which features two pictures of Bad Tabarz, an evening sky, paintings of a quiet evening at home and Joe Laredo's cats for Am Abend while Notturno features photos of nocturnal animals and the only online picture we could find of Hofmann.

Joe Laredo plays 'Jimbo's Lullaby' (1908) by Debussy which features a variety of pictures of elephants including Joe's model elephant, vintage and more recent toy elephants plus photos of Claude and Emma Debussy and their daughter Chou-Chou.

Joe Laredo plays 'Star Dust' by Elena Cobb (2016) which features stars and constellations in the night sky, including the stars over Stonehenge, the Milky Way above modern scientific observatories around the world, an amateur photograph of the Southern Cross and a picture of the composer Elena Cobb.

Joe Laredo plays 'Noure et Anitra' Berceuse by Illyinsky (1895) which features an enchanted forest, a mysterious castle, a fairytale cave and several paintings, engravings and photographs of ladies playing the lyre or harp including an Asian harp called a Saung, a photo of a tree lined night sky from inside a dark space and a photo of Alexander Ilyinsky.

Joe Laredo plays 'Dreaming: Nocturne' by Liszt (1885) which features Liszt dreaming and looking back at a prestigious career, so there are some paintings with the theme of dreaming (Dreaming, Joseph's Dream, Dream haunting of the Mogul and Le Rêve) but also several pictures of Liszt and in concert.

Joe Laredo plays 'Intermezzo op. 117 no. 1' by Brahms (1892) which features pictures of Brahms and his friend the composer Clara Schumann, the words of the Ballad 'Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament', a few drawings done in later centuries of Lady Anne Bothwell cradling her baby, a painting each of James Hepburn, Jean Gordon, Queen Mary of Scots and Colonel Alexander Erskine of Cambuskenneth plus several pictures of the ruins of Bothwell Castle and Dunglass Castle reflecting on poor Lady Anne’s ruined hopes!

Joe Laredo plays 'At Twilight' by Percy Grainger (1939), 'The Song of Twilight' by Yoshinao Nakada (2000) and 'A Song of Twilight' by Pierre Lescaut (1912) which features a Japanese theme inspired by the Kipling poem for the first piece, then Japanese festivals for the second piece and twilight in Japan for the third piece. There are several Japanese woodblock prints, old colourised photographs plus modern photos.

Joe Laredo plays 'Notturno no. 2 S192a' by Franz Liszt and Lullaby (2002) by Stephen Hough, the video features photographs of lovers at sunset for Liszt’s Notturno and paintings of slumbering babies and children for Stephen Hough’s Lullaby, plus a photo of Stephen Hough.

Joe Laredo plays 'Nocturne, op. 10 no. 1' by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1894), the video features photos of Rachmaninoff, images of the places where he studied music (St Petersburg and Moscow conservatories), where he conducted (Bolshoi), his cousin’s home where he spent several summers, time visiting friends plus photos of him with his wife and young family. These are interspersed with paintings from 3 Russian artists of the period to try and show his love of his homeland (the title of the last painting) even though he emigrated in 1918 and eventually lived in Switzerland and the USA.

Joe Laredo plays Recitative and Lullaby (from ‘Romantic Scenes’) by Enrique Granados (1904), the video features a few pictures of Granados. 'Recitative' includes Goya pictures which may have inspired Enrique's most well known operas (Maria del Carmen and Goyescas), pictures from those operas, and the circus theatre where Maria del Carmen was first performed. 'Lullaby' includes pictures of Barcelona architecture plus a picture of the SS Sussex.

Joe Laredo plays Moonrise (from 'The Silent Mere') by Gustave Lind aka Alfred Frederick Mullen (1912) and features different photographs of moonrise taken around the world.

Joe Laredo plays Eleanor's Lullaby (1975) by Geoffrey Allan Taylor and features images and photos depicting the story of Queen Eleanor and Edward I including paintings and murals in Stony Stratford by Peter Osborne, Zoe Maslen and Luke McDonnell.

Joe Laredo plays Farewell at Nightfall (no. 51 from The Distraught Nightingale) by Reynaldo Hahn (1910) with the video featuring pictures to indicate a night time garden party, an illuminated nightingale, photos of woods at dusk or night, two paintings (by the same artist) of couples outdoors, garden sculptures (couples and cupids), lush springs in the woods and a nightingale with the moon. Also a painting of Hahn plus a photo of him to finish.

This series is presented without charge but if you enjoy it and feel able to donate towards the maintenance of the Stony Stratford Willis Pipe Organ please use this link https://cutt.ly/SMSG-Willis-organ-maintenance. Your donation is very much appreciated.

Picture research and video editing for 'A little night music' series was done by Anna Page