Wednesday, August 01, 2007

EarPlay - 5 More Alternate Titles for Your Summer Outdoor Concert Listening

Previously in this series I wrote about the National Symphony's summer warhorse concerts at Carter Barron, and offered some titles that could replace some of the more overplayed repertoire. Here are some additional titles, and the sometimes overplayed pieces they can replace without causing a riot in the audience.

From The Planets - Gustav Holst's grand solar system tour for large orchestra gives us the planets "up close and personal," based on the astronomical and popular conceptions of each. Four movements from the eight-movement suite (Pluto hadn't been discovered at the time of composition) work extremely well outdoors on a starry night:

Mars (The Bringer of War). A mean, hammering, violent march, reminiscent of John Williams' music from The Empire Strikes Back.

Mercury (The Winged Messenger). Quick, fast and shimmering, like the scherzo from Mendellsohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Jupiter (The Bringer of Jollity). A enormous, fantastic festival, bright and exotic, with a central theme that runs rings around Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance.

Uranus (The Magician). Conjures grotesque figures, lurking and bouncing, like the brooms in Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice. And no Mickey Mouse to be found.

Then back on Earth:

Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes - Benjamin Britten forgoes a day at the beach and gives us the ocean, after hours and off-season. Beginning with winds and sea birds diving in the strings, the suite goes on to feature vast ocean swells through low orchestral rumblings, and finishes with an brief yet devastating storm. The flip side of Debussy's La Mer.

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