Possibly Milford’s best-known orchestral work, Fishing by Moonlight
for piano and strings had first appeared in 1949 as a piece for two harpsichords (or pianos) entitled Nightpiece
. Its orchestral version dates from 1952, and was published in 1958. It was suggested to the composer by the Dutch artist Aernout van der Neer’s (1603–1677) nocturnal picture of the same title showing fishing boats in a river estuary, nets drying in the foreground, a village church tower rising across the water. A simple ternary shape frames a limpid singing middle section with dotted 6/8 siciliano-like outer sections, notable for the constant chromatic changes which give the music its shadowy fluid character, the piano answering the strings and eventually joining together in a passionate tutti. The piece was first performed by the Newbury String Players conducted by Gerald Finzi at the Newbury Festival in April 1956.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2004