Alma 1: Beethoven 2

So, I successfully survived Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy. It is a miniature version of the Ninth Symphony. The pianist has a solo for about five minutes or so, then the orchestra begins passing around a theme and variations for another ten minutes before the chorus and soloists enter. We get five very challenging minutes, then the orchestra gets the last word (or note, in this case). Continue reading


Caesura – The No-Tryout Solo

All my readers who have sung the “Alleluia” Chorus from the Messiah raise a hand, forefoot, or paw. All those who have heard (because you never did it, I’m sure) an impromptu solo in the next-to-last measure keep your appendage up. Thank you. You can lower them.

The caesura, or sometimes called a “grand pause” is a technique composers use to build or maintain tension in a piece of music. It is also one of the best opportunities for an instrumentalist or vocalist to have a solo without the need of practicing or trying out. This is generally not a good thing. Continue reading

A Tenor’s a Tenor, Right?

So, who’s the greatest tenor of the late Twentieth Century? Jose Carerras? Placido Domingo? Luciano Pavarotti? Bryn Terfel? Helden tenor, lyric tenor, best all-around voice? You’ve got a Mexican, a Spainard, an Italian, and a Welshman to choose from, and several very different voices.

Actually, none of the four are heldentenors, although Domingo might be the closest. And no counter-tenors, either. And just to make things confusing, Domingo and Terfel are baritones who can sing tenor roles, although Terfel doesn’t. Huh? Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: The Music of Skyrim

Jeremy Soule The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Edited: Confusing sentence has been removed. I apologize for not thinking more clearly about the reference.

Over the past five-8 years, who hasn’t seen some of the screen caps from the game, showing the excellent graphics? Even I’m familiar with the game, although I’ve never played it and don’t intend to. However, I had also heard good things about the music, both soundtrack style and the incidental music in the game. What pushed me into buying it was a review on Grim’s Hall.

Continue reading

Something Creepy This Way Comes…

No, not that guy from the next block, the one who alternates between asking if you know Jesus and inviting you to vote for Eugene V. Debs for president.

If you think that “The Dinosaurs” from Carnival of the Animals sounds like this, well… you are quite correct.

Berlioz may have been thinking of the Dance of Death, the Totentanz paintings showing a long line of kings, peasants, bishops, farm women, merchants, knights, beggars, all led by skeletal forms explaining that all must die no matter their rank or station.

But the dead are not the only ones dancing… the “Kindly Ones” also have their time.

But these are not what most people think of as classical music for Halloween. No, it is either Leopold Stokowski’s orchestration of Bach’s Tocata and Fugue in D minor, or a piece of music actually inspired by Walpurgisnacht, and illustrated with the Russian legends about Chernobog.