The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: YOU MUST HEAR THIS – Ernest Bloch’s Nocturne No. 2 for piano trio | August 9, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

Suddenly, in August, you sense fall coming.

The Ear has noticed how the sun is setting sooner and rising later.

And it brought to mind a wonderful performance of a memorable and moving work he heard a couple of weeks ago at the last concert by The Willy Street Chamber Players with University of Wisconsin-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor (below).

In fact, the group says the program – which also included Jessie Montgomery’s “Voodoo Dolls” and the Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major by Antonin Dvorak – drew a record-setting audience for the group that marked its fifth anniversary this July.

The piece of music in question is the Nocturne No. 2 – the slow and most quiet one — from Three Nocturnes for Piano Trio by Ernest Bloch (below).

It sounds right and feels right with the right touch of autumnal bittersweetness to the evocation of darkness.

Listen for yourself on YouTube (below) and let The Ear know if you like it and agree:


  1. It’s a lovely, short piece but I don’t hear autumn in it.

    More like Spring, with the piano and cello in the short introduction sounding somber (yes, like the last days of winter) with a much more lively violin picking things up so it sounds like buds are shooting but it is still cool outside. Does it really make any difference?

    Very Jewish (I think that, and not a season accounts for its “sadness”). But perhaps that’s just my ear.The first movement/Nocturne (Andante) is also very slow.

    At any rate, an excellent choice from a delightful composer (born in Switzerland but lived mostly in California and Oregon) out of the mainstream. Bloch had a very distinguished teaching career (first director of the Cleveland Musical Institute and then Director of the San Francisco Conservatory).

    Thanks for calling our attention to this. Just another example of there being so many outstanding composers out there who did great work.

    Comment by fflambeau — August 9, 2019 @ 1:00 am

  2. We were in attendance, it was an outstanding performance!

    Comment by Susan Fiore — August 9, 2019 @ 12:22 am

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