Many people remember this music for its ending with chimes, bells, and cannons along with the full orchestra, which is in celebration of the Russian defeat of Napoleon's army in 1812. But, in the beginning, the music is a quiet hymn-like melody derived from a Russian folk song. Tchaikovsky's skill for writing melodies has few peers.
These compositions are known as "tone poems" in which a certain scene, or character, or location, etc. is depicted by the music. People who heard this at the very beginning of the movie 2001--A Space Odyssey were stunned by the orchestra's brass and percussion sections. That music is the very beginning of the first tone poem "Thus Spake Zarathustra." And fear not, the rest of these works are just as exciting as the other "tone poems" by Richard Strauss. By the way, this is not the "waltzing" Strauss.
The opening work is his "Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor" for Organ. This is a "crank up the volume" and let the organ push you back into your chair. All of the music on this CD offers up a well-rounded selection of Bach's music.
Many folks will immediately recognize "Bolero." It begins with a lonely snare drum and one woodwind instrument. The drum keeps repeating itself over and over throughout, and getting louder and louder as more instruments are added over and over with the full orchestra finally coming in, leading to a stunning climatic ending. "Bolero" has been featured in several films. Remember the movie 10? The library has other recordings of Ravel's orchestral works, all quite stunning in their orchestration.
It is believed the text for this secular cantata was written by monks/young clergy students from the 12th or 13th centuries. Some texts are about love, eroticism, and humor. The music is like Audio Fireworks. The "O Fortuna" has been utilized in oh so many movies.
This music is typical of all of Copland. You will hear his use of jazz and folk music. Beginning with Copland's homage to the land below the Rio Grande, "El Salon Mexico," and continuing on with his lesser-known "Dance Symphony" (a ghoulish work taken from his never-staged 1920's ballet "Grohg"), Dorati and his orchestra move to the stirring "Fanfare For The Common Man," and then traverse the suites Copland extracted from his two ultra-popular ballets--"Rodeo" and "Appalachian Spring."
Vivaldi wrote well over 700 compositions (four hundred concertos, forty some operas, and many compositions for the voice). In the "Four Seasons," it is the first movement, "Spring," that is the most recognizable of the four seasons. It was used for months by the Weather Channel. "Spring" also found its way into movies, i.e. Elvira Madigan and The Banger Sisters to mention a couple. In "Spring", Vivaldi gives us a sense of brightness and lightness, just perfect for the feel of Spring.
La Bohème is a story of young love set in the bohemian culture of 1830s Paris. The bittersweet tragedy centers around an optimistic group of friends surviving on limited means. Rodolfo, a poet, shares a garret with his artist friend. Mimi is a seamstress living in a neighboring apartment. Mimi and Rodolfo meet and fall instantly, madly, in love. But the diva is already desperately ill with tuberculosis and not long for the world. Available in DVD format, plus CDs.
There are two masterpieces on this recording, "La Mer" (The Sea) and "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune" (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun). In "La Mer," Debussy's use of instrumental colors brilliantly produce the many sounds and moods of the sea. The "Prelude" as described by Debussy were "successive scenes which the desires and dreams of the faun pass through in the heat of the afternoon."
This is music originally written for ballet. The overall subject is Pagan Ritual. The music is recognizable, but many people find it just too dissonant for comfort. It premiered in Paris in 1913, resulting in a riot. It remains a controversial piece. His ballet titled "The Firebird" is far more acceptable to the ear, and has a magnificent climactic ending. Both are landmarks in their fields. Multiple copies are available in the library's collection. OnE of the copies contains Stravinsky's Firebird Suite - it's spectacular.