While some of us are in thorough preparation for the upcoming holiday season, we sometimes forget to bask in the crisp breezes and warm colors of fall. While not my favorite season, I always admire the beauty that fall brings and welcome the chance to don a sweater, snuggle up with a hot cup of tea, and turn on some appropriately cozy music. Whether you’re compiling a Thanksgiving playlist, want to gaze pensively out of your window, or just need a soundtrack to inspire your day, here are some of my favorite fall albums (classical and otherwise) and a tea to pair with them!
The Queen’s Six, The Last Rose of Summer: Folk Songs of the British Isles (2019)
Tea Pairing: Strong Black Breakfast Tea or Earl Grey (with cream and sugar)
Something about songs from the British Isles seems quintessentially autumnal. Mist rolling in over verdant hills. Church bells in the distance. A rugged shepherd wrapping you in his arms… I digress. This charming album of mostly familiar folk songs includes both older and more refreshing arrangements that allow the melodies - filled with longing, melancholy, and moments of clear beauty - to shine. Particularly moving are the title song of the album, “The Last Rose of Summer” (also included in the opera, Martha), “O Waly Waly,” and “Land of My Fathers.” However, there is still fun to be had in the jaunty shanty “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor.” Enjoy a nice strong cuppa with this one!
Barbra Streisand, Je m'appelle Barbra (1966)
Tea Pairing: Vanilla Chamomile
Obviously, Barbra’s rendition of “Autumn Leaves” is what lands this album on the list - but we don’t ever really need an excuse to listen to Babs, do we? In her typical style, Barbra knows exactly when to keep things understated and when to turn up the drama. Barbra’s French diction is actually quite good, and her delivery of the text in this album is incredibly communicative, with her tone particularly clear. The emphatic “Free Again” sets a strong bittersweet tone for the album, both fitting for fall and the semi-jazzy French chanteuse style Barbra evokes here. Just be sure to find a tea smooth enough to match Streisand’s buttery voice.
Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan, Sibelius: Finlandia - Valse Triste - Tapiola - The Swan of Tuonela (1984)
Tea Pairing: Berry or Fruit Tea
This excellently conducted (I mean, it's von Karajan - what else do we expect?) album of several works by Sibelius is the perfect fall companion, especially on a rainy day. The piece is both parts tumultuous and triumphant. The rousing melody of the hymn in the piece is often performed by choirs and has been set to numerous texts throughout the years and it’s one of my personal favorites. Here, coaxed forth from the swirling excitement of the earlier motifs, it's thrilling. Sibelius’ music is highly evocative of Finland and Scandinavia, creating at times a more foreboding and mournful mood that looks forward to the coming winter. Pair this album with some dark berry or herbal tea to embrace a sense of Scandinavian cottage coziness.
Ella Fitzgerald, Autumn in New York (2021)
Tea Pairing: Rooibos or other Red Tea
Let’s be honest, Ella is always in-season, However, this new compilation album serves up some of Ella’s most fall-appropriate tunes. From the warmth of the titular “Autumn in New York,” to the relaxed “Moonlight in Vermont,” and resigned “I’m Glad There Is You,” nearly every song is sure to make the leaves seem a bit brighter and that warmth of your mug that much more comforting. Pair with a Rooibos or other red tea to enjoy not only the complexity of flavors in the tea, but also the depth of Ella’s performances.
As we enter the later stages of fall, don’t forget to take care of yourself, stay hydrated, and enjoy whatever small, restful moments you can find throughout the day. Do you have a fall-time ritual? Or even a favorite tea to share? You know what to do. Go ahead and drop a comment to let us know!