Hello, Thuuuuuuuuuuuursday mornin’! Am I psyched for the day or what? Actually it’s an “or what” situation but I’m making the effort to be jazzed for you.
Today’s post is a combo of things I like, and lists (which is actually one of the things I like). When someone says what is your favourite book/film/song, I’m always stumped. Firstly, how can I possibly make such a decision- I have no clue. It depends on my mood, or if the person opposite me is someone I want to impress, or if I just watched a film that’s fresh in my mind and has lots of bright colours and ‘asplosions. The combinations of factors are endless. So I’ve started hating the question.
However, the question which classic book/film/song would you recommend is far easier. Now let me be unequivocally clear- THESE ARE NOT MY FAVOURITES. I just think that these some of the “classics” that everyone should experience, whether they like them or hate them.
Lets start with music, and here I’m being persnikitty and decided classics would mean classical music too (ahahahaha, see what I did there, I’m clever like that).
3) Dies Irae, by Verdi
Lemme explain- in Latin Dies Irae means Day of Wrath, the music is set to the lyrics (or vice versa) of a medieval Latin poem. So far pretty funky right? I mean wrath and Latin, it’s all biblical and stuff, and I’ve read the Bible, there are some gory bits and a lot of rules, and then some more gore and judgement for good measure. Now this one is not to be confused with Karl Jenkin’s “Dies Irae” or Mozart’s “Dies Irae” ( or any of the countless others including Liszt, Berlioz, etc. )which are really really good, and as you guessed, set to the same poem. But I prefer Verdi. He has that Italian flair.What this piece of music does is difficult to describe, it’s loud, it’s powerfully religious, but it’s also really beautiful. Just to give you the translation of the beginning of the poem:
“Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets’ warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!”
Wow, sounds like an apocalyptic film, and yet still gorgeous, although not on full blast….
2) Ochi Chorniye, various peeps
What can I say, I’m a sucker for the waltz, and I like catterwauling (or singing as some have claimed) in bad Russian. If you haven’t heard this- go fill your ears with it. Its fun, its rousing, and its about love, and getting burned by a chick. Its got a lot going for it.The song is again based on a poem, and is also known as the gypsies song, it recounts a man seeing a lovely chica with black burning, smouldering eyes, and he’s totally into her, but freaked out by her intense eyes…. so yeah, not much lyrically I suppose. Yet the song rocks hard for the classical world.
BUT, and this is a big but, do not, for the love of all that is holy and awesome, listen to an English language versions. They truly suck. I mean they suck harder than a black hole and a Dyson vacuum cleaner combined. I have seen swirling vortexes of doom that suck less. Despite stars like Louis Armstrong and Etta James having a try, this song doesn’t work for them, or at least don’t do either the song or themselves any favours. My recommendation, hunt down a version by Feodor Chaliapin, the guy has a bass voice that will make your spine jiggle in its place. It may cause you to lose structural integrity in your skeletal system, but my thoughts are that it is completely worth it.
1) Peter and The Wolf, by Prokofiev
I’m kind of coping out here as I’m not choosing a piece so much as a symphony. Judge not, losers, for I bring you tidings of great joy.
This piece was originally commissioned for the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow in 1936 as a bid to encourage love of music in joyless, Communist demon-spawn. Who, ungrateful little noobs that they are, on the first showing basically gave the excuse “I can’t go, see, I’m being sent to a Gulag on Monday and I gotta pack”. Legend goes that so few people turned up at the first showing that Prokofiev wrote it off as a big ‘ol bowl of failure. WHAT THE HELL USSR???
I first heard this symphony when I was 7, in my first school. I actually fell asleep to its soothing loveliness and was woken up by the teacher, to then embarrass myself, by calling her “Mom” (true story, sadly). This piece is just- gosh, everything you could want if you’re getting into classical music- it’s short, easy to listen to, and unpretentious. The best thing about it may be that as it’s a kids story everyone knows you can keep tabs on what the hell is going on, which is often a problem for me. Example:
-“Excuse me sir, you seem to know what’s going on, my book says that this German opera has an aria about love, does it come after this weird stuff here?’
-‘”Actually this would be it, and has been for the last 20 minutes.”
-” F**kbeans, are you serious? He sounds like he’s ordering from a dessert cart. Also, 20 minutes to tell some tramp in a parachute dress that she’s hot is just overkill!”
Yes scenarios like that have occurred, to people, and me. Back to reasons to hear/see it if you can, an added bonus to Peter and the Wolf is that each character has their own instruments, Peter is the string section, the wolf is the French Horn, the duck is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC and is the oboe (love it!). Seriously, you will adore it.
If you haven’t heard this, you’re missing out, and your life has been meaningless, I now allow you to remedy this horrible travesty of nature by going to hear it.
(the next two parts, on books and films, will be up later today- or tomorrow)