CD of the Week: Elizabeth Joy Roe's Complete Nocturnes of John Field

Aug 16, 2016

This week's CD of the Week on Classical 90.5 is the new release from pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe. She recorded the complete nocturnes of 19th century Irish composer John Field.

The nocturnes of John Field established a new form for classical piano. Elizabeth Joy Roe has a new release out of Field's complete nocturnes. That recording is the CD of the Week this week on Classical 90.5FM.
Credit Elizabeth Joy Roe

The classical world is full of canonical works with which even the casual listener is familiar. There are also countless lesser known but no less important musical works. The output of composer John Field is among the lesser known compositions. The Dublin-based composer wrote a series of works inspired by the night. He dubbed these 18 pieces for solo piano his nocturnes.

On her second Decca Records release, Ms. Roe dives into the repertoire from this largely forgotten 19th century Irish composer. The clarity of the recording deserves repeated listens so as to absorb all the nuances and emotion contained in the nocturnes mostly written during Field's time in Russia.

Especially noteworthy is Roe's recording of Field's Nocturne No. 12 in E major. The piece begins with a jaunty series of notes that returns repeatedly to a more introspective place as if the composer dares the listener to settle into the reverie of the work's quieter moments. The Nocturne No. 1 in E flat major is almost lullaby-like under Roe's pacing. A deeper listen reveals the layers that exist within Field's first named nocturne. While Field may have invented the nocturne as a style of composing it was Frederic Chopin - who was aware of and admired Field's compositions - who made it his own and remains associated with the nocturne-style of works for piano.

Listen for tracks from our CD of the Week between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. each morning this week on Classical 90.5FM.