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.
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.
With out a doubt, the "Messiah" is the most frequently performed choral composition throughout the world. The first part, "Christmas," concludes with the "Hallelujah Chorus" and is heard around the world at Christmas time. The lesser -known part two is performed during the Easter season. If you have never heard the "Hallelujah Chorus," then you must be from another planet!
Grieg is a master of charming melodies used throughout all his music. The "Peer Gynt Suite No.1" is no exception. "Morning" begins with a graceful melody which suggests a morning with a sun rise feel and the chirping of birds. The last section, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is probably the best known of "Peer Gynt Suite No.1" having been utilized in numerous movies.
Originally composed in 1874 for the piano, depicting drawings and watercolors by friend Victore Hartmann. It has since been orchestrated by several composers. By far, the most performed orchestration is that of Maurice Ravel in 1922. Every picture can tell a musical story. Also, Mussorgsky wrote a "Night on Bald Mountain" which has been used in numerous films, including Disney's Fantasia.