“Moonlight”, the third movement of “Sea Interludes”, a suite of four pieces taken from Benjamin Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes”, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conducted here by Leonard Bernstein at what I believe was his final concert:
“Peter Grimes” is one of my favourite operas, and has been since I went to a concert performance by the London Symphony Orchestra with Glenn Winslade in the title role several years ago.
Against the backdrop of a lush, evocative depiction of life in a 19th century fishing village in East Anglia, the opera tells the story of how a vengeful and gossiping community harrangue and eventually cast out Peter Grimes, a local misfit fisherman.
This is one of several “interlude” pieces which Britten wrote to separate the various acts of the opera, this one coming after a particularly climactic scene. The orchestral depiction of the moonlight on the still, calm sea, is quite breathtaking.
Leonard Bernstein takes a very slow tempo in this performance, but the stilling effect is so strong that I almost feel that I am gazing out at the sea on a cold night in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.