The "Mozart effect" -- the idea that Mozart's music stimulates brain development in young children -- has inspired bemusement or worse within the classical music community, but out there in the marketplace, it's a glorious success. The state of Georgia, at last report, was planning to give Mozart Effect CDs to all parents of newborns -- surely welcome financial news for the discs' Canadian creators. Nighty Night is, of course, the lullaby entry in the series: a group of nine slow movements "selected to facilitate sleep for your baby or child." "[I]t may have a calming effect on adults and older children, too," the liner notes warn. "If you are driving, please remain alert and drive safely at all times."
If you're new to classical music, be aware that this kind of remark irritates those of us who love it. Yes, indeed, listening to Mozart will increase your intelligence. But it doesn't happen subliminally -- it happens because there's enough in the music, if you concentrate on it, to show you something new every time you hear it over a whole lifetime.
But before commencing with the outrage, dear fellow classical listeners, consider the positives here. The music, except for being shorn of context, is presented unadulterated. The performances, many of them Eastern European readings that have bounced around the fringes of copyright for some years, are nothing special but are certainly creditable; the Clarinet Quintet larghetto at the end is quite lovely. The pseudo-science for most buyers probably goes in one ear and out the other, leaving the music -- which had no place at all at Wal-Mart until these discs came along. The end result is that a lot of babies are hearing Mozart's music as they go to sleep -- and unless I miss my guess, that just might be how you got started.