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Calm Classics with Karthi Gnanasegaram 10pm - 1am
5 January 2021, 18:25 | Updated: 27 May 2022, 12:25
Classical music is a wonderful tool for relieving everyday stress, supporting mental health and easing you into sleep at the end of a busy day – so let the dulcet tones of a beautifully-played flute wash over you...
Classical music can be a real ally in the search for true, restful relaxation.
And what better than the smooth, mellow sound of a gentle flute to accompany your slumber?
We round up our very favourite of this woodwind instrument’s relaxing offerings for your wellbeing.
Read more: These are he most relaxing pieces of classical music ever >
The gentle, undulating melodies and lightly bobbing orchestral accompaniment in the unhurried ‘Andante’ movement of Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major is a favourite of ours, for a restful minute or seven. It’s real glass of red wine, quiet room, comfy chair, crackling fire stuff.
W.A.Mozart Flute Concerto No.2 in D Major , K.314 -Yeojin Han -
Another slow second movement recommendation here – the sublime, and heartachingly beautiful, ‘Cantilena’ from French late-Romantic composer Poulenc’s sonata for flute and piano.
Poulenc FLUTE SONATA (2nd Mov.) _ James Galway
The second movement of Bach’s B minor sonata for flute really is as sweet and steady as the ‘Largo e dolce’ title suggests. Harpsichord reassurance underlines the wonderfully lyrical and relaxed flute melody, which, with its ingenius Bachian twists and turns, really lulls you into another realm.
Flute Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1030: II. Largo e dole
For some soft, impressionistic unaccompanied flute, the right recording of Claude Debussy’s Syrinx is a guaranteed relaxer. Lyrical passages whirl around un-hurriedly, and swirling calm notes will soon have your head feeling heavy – in the best way – against the pillow.
Debussy: Syrinx for solo flute (Emmanuel Pahud)
The ‘largo’ (slow) movement of Baroque great Telemann’s Sonata ‘without bass’ for two flutes is calming and gorgeous. Its lyrical falling notes seem to will the mind to untighten, the muscles around the eyes and face to untense, and the world to literally slow – if only for a moment or two. It’s relaxing flutey perfection.
G.Ph.TELEMANN: 6 Sonatas for Two Flutes without Bass Op.2 No.2 D-dur (No.3 in Bärenreiter)
In Gluck’s 1762 opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ ballet moment is flute-heavy and beautiful. Pluck it out as a standalone piece, and allow the juxtaposition of the mournful slow melody with the light ‘minuet’ dance transport you to another place entirely.
Gluck, Minuet and Dance of the Blessed Spirits
This Concertino for flute and orchestra was written by Légion d’Honneur-winning composer Cécile Chaminade (she was the first woman to win said prize) and has wonderful sweeping melodies for any escapist evening.
(We also love the story behind the piece delivered at this concert 👇 – watch below).
Chaminade: Concertino for Flute - Hayley Miller (flute), Benjamin Zander (conductor)
More Bach – because you can’t go wrong with Bach – and the third movement of the E minor sonata is really lovely and calming. The sustained melody notes are as soothing as they come, and a trustworthy harpsichord accompaniment is just the right thing to carry us off into the next stage of relaxation…
Flute Sonata in E Minor, BWV 1034: III. Andante
The flute solo of Debussy’s orchestral work is relaxing and elegiac, and ushers in a shimmering restful afternoon in nature – in the company of a flighty creature (according to myth, a faune is half-human and half-goat), yes, but a faune thats doe eyes are drooping, and thats energy is as low as yours will be by the end of this rich orchestral piece.
Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Andrés Orozco-Estrada
If you’re a genius like Mozart (and Mozart literally was), you take the most relaxing instruments – the flute and the harp – and bring them together in one relaxing concerto movement. The second, from his well-loved Flute and Harp Concerto in C, is delightful – a Mozartian melody in the flute with undulating harp accompaniment one minute; the harp in the glistening limelight, carrying that calming melody, the next... Bliss.
Mozart - Flute & Harp concerto, K 299 - 2nd movement - Andantino
Listen to the most calming selection of classical music there is – in the Classic FM Relax playlist on Global Player, the official Classic FM app.
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