PLAYLIST - Which relaxing works of classical music should you listen to when you want to relieve some stress?
PLAYLIST - Which relaxing works of classical music should you listen to when you want to relieve some stress? © Getty  /  spooh

PLAYLIST - A list of relaxing works of classical music to listen to when you want to relieve some stress

A playlist by France Musique, using our own exclusive video archive of concert and studio recordings.

It's been a long day at work, you want nothing more than to put your feet up, close your eyes, and unwind. Whether you need to relax or a good night's sleep, this soothing playlist should help you unplug

Richard Wagner: Feierliches Stück, by Serioso Celli

When we hear the name Richard Wagner, we generally think of fantastically grandiose operas and generous orchestral music, but the German composer was also capable of writing the sweetest, delicate, and most peaceful melodies imaginable.

Fauré: Après un rêve (Gautier Capuçon, cello / Samuel Parent, piano)

What better way to relax than with Fauré's enchanting melody, a dream in which the narrator and his beloved are magically united, followed by a burning desire to return to this dream state after awakening?

"In a sleep which your image charmed, I dreamt of happiness, ardent mirage.... You called me, and I left the earth, to flee with you towards the light.... Return, return, radiant, mysterious night!"

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides Overture (Neeme Järvi / Orchestre National de France)

Nicknamed Fingal's Cave, Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture was inspired by a boat trip to the Scottish island of Staffa. The composer allegedly wrote down the opening theme for his composition as he laid eyes upon the basalt sea cave known as Fingal's Cave, from the boat gently rocking in the waves, perfectly represented by the gentle undulating melody played by the string section...

Smetana: Vltava (The Moldau) arranged for harp, by Xavier de Maistre

Inspired by his walks along the shores of the Moldau, Bedřich Smetana composed Má Vlast (My Homeland), in which he included his famous symphonic poem Vltava (The Moldau), a beautiful musical depiction of the Vtlava river, starting with the river's two springs, gently flowing through dark forests in which we can hear an ongoing hunt, open fields with singing villagers, flowing under the a moonlit sky, eventually reaching Prague and the historic fort of Vysehrad. Close your eyes and gently float away...

Vivaldi: Lute concerto in D major - largo (Thomas Dunford and the Jupiter Ensemble)

A moment of pure beauty and serenity, the Largo movement of Vivaldi's Lute concerto in D major is a reflective meditation by the lute, over a peaceful, sustained string accompaniment.

Couperin: Les Barricades mystérieuses, transcribed by Arkaïtz Chambonnet

A delicate work carefully balanced between melody and harmony, Couperin's Les Barricades mystérieuses is a kaleidoscopic work, with constantly shifting rhythms and melodies, here transcribed for the guitar and its sweet and dulcet tones.

Paderewski: Miscellanea - Nocturne (Nelson Freire)

With a hint of Slav lyricism and an undeniable influence by Chopin, the Nocturne from Ignace Jan Paderewski's Miscellanea was composed for, and dedicated to, the dimly-lit and peaceful high-society salons and its members. A light and delicate work, the music seems to hang in the air, weightless and constantly shifting...

Praetorius: In dulci jubilo (Maîtrise de Radio France)

A traditional 14th-century Christmas carol, adapted by the German Protestant composer Michael Praetorius, In dulci jubilo (In sweet rejoicing), is a message of peace, love, and understanding... what could be more soothing?

Debussy: Images oubliées (Alain Planès, piano)

Conceived as a conversation between the piano and "oneself", the work is imbued with a very dreamy, and calm atmosphere, with occasional indications by the composer himself such as: "solemn and slow, even a bit like an old portrait, souvenir of the Louvre". 

Marc Mellits: String Quartet no.4 "Prometheus", by the Debussy Quartet

American composer Marc Mellits's rock-influenced post-minimalist style may seem out of place in such a playlist, but the contemplative and almost ethereal seven-movement string quartet Prometheus gradually leads to an explosive final movement, giving us a much-needed shot of energy, perfect for bringing us out of our deep slumber.