Music for de-stressing

Paul Sarcich, Morley tutor for orchestral conducting and composition, shares his favourite classical pieces for relaxing and letting go of stress.

For best results, turn lights out, lie down, close eyes. Then let some great composers detox your brain. Stay there for as long as it takes. I hope you discover some great music in the process.

Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

In a magnificent example of ‘cathedral writing’, Vaughan Williams combines the influences of Tudor music and English folk song to produce a profoundly meditative piece, using two string orchestras and a string quartet. Tallis’s theme is a hymn tune, and Vaughan Williams uses it as a starting point for a truly magnificent musical journey. Contemplative, expansive, and wholly English.

Mozart – 2nd movement of the Clarinet Concerto

Acknowledged as one of Mozart’s greatest melodic inspirations, out of many many great melodies, it has a surface simplicity which hides the depth of feeling contained in it. Mozart explores it fully, to provide an immensely satisfying slow movement, which at times seems to just hang in the air. The sheer beauty of this movement comes from a mixture of the melody itself and the pleasing architecture of Mozart’s musical structure.

Arvo Part – Spiegel in Spiegel 

Surely one of the most hypnotic pieces ever written, the piano plays a chain of broken chords while the cello weaves an astonishingly slow melody around them. Time seems to stand still in this piece, which is played with total quietness, giving an aura of utter relaxation and unhurriedness. It’s very simple structure makes it wholly accessible to all. 

Paul’s Playlist

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

Allegri: Miserere deus

Mahler: Adagietto from Symphony No 5

Dvorak: Song to the Moon from Rusalka

Greig: Solveig’s Song from Peer Gynt

Beethoven: The Moonlight Sonata Movement 1

Mozart: Ave verum corpus

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, 2nd movement

Saint Saëns: Adagio from Symphony No 3

Mendelssohn: Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Humperdinck: Evening Prayer from Hansel and Gretel

J S Bach: Air on the G String

Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte

J. S. Bach: Bist du bei mir

Debussy: En Bateau from Petite Suite

Debussy: Clair de lune

Satie: Gymnopédie No. 1

Saint Saëns: Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson and Delilah

Orff: In trutina from Carmina Burana

Albinoni: Adagio in G minor

Barber: Adagio for Strings

Elgar: “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations

Delius: In a Summer Garden

Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad

Fauré: Piu Jesu from Requiem

Chesnokov: We Praise Thee

Debussy: Two Arabesques

Tarrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra

Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major, 2nd movement

Avo Part: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten

Avo Part: Spiegel im Spiegel