Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Think I’m going to start doing more themed posts, instead of just songs of the week, since I usually tend to get the same few stuck in my head for months at a time.  Thoughts?  This week’s theme: classical (including but not limited to the Classical era) music.

1 – Hallelujah Chorus (Handel’s Messiah) – George Frederic Handel

The entire composition is a masterpiece of music, but I’d like to specify its most famous chorus in particular here.  There are lots of words to describe it: grand, majestic, rich, and as I like to sum it up, WOW, yet all these still fall short of truly defining it.  It leaves you speechless.

2 – Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque) – Claude Debussy

Perhaps a little clichéd, but for me, ‘Clair de lune’ is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed.  My piano teacher has described it as the Impressionistic era in a single song, which is pretty accurate.  Such a wide range and blend of dynamics and emotion in the piece, a lovely song to play and listen to.

3 – Symphony #5 – Ludwig van Beethoven

Normally, Beethoven and I are not the best of friends.  His piano sonatas frustrate me, and I’m just about ready to throw Fur Elise against a wall if I have to hear one more request for it.  But Symphony #5 is pretty spectacular.  It was one of my favourite pieces to listen to when I was studying for my music history exam, and having studied it in some detail makes listening to the piece all the more rewarding.  It’s truly a great piece, hats off to you, Herr Beethoven.

4 – Erlkonig – Franz Schubert

If the poem itself doesn’t send chills down your spine, the music and the vocalist will.  It’s one hell of a poem, and if sung well, one hell of a song.  The controlled frenzy of the piano sets an ominous background for the different voices to weave a strange tale of magic and fear and death.  Really eerie and gets your pulse pounding, and that ending will surprise you!  Just maybe have the English translation handy if, like me, you’re not fluent in German.

5 – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – J.S. Bach

I gotta put this one up here, out of all of Bach’s compositions, because it really is such a flowing and beautiful piece.  Johann Sebastian and I are a lot greater pals than Beethoven and I, except maybe when it comes to harmony which I haven’t forgiven him for yet, and out of all his many, many pieces (he’s really earning that money to feed all those children of his), this one has got to be my favourite.  If I ever get married, I hope to hear this playing as I walk down the aisle.

And that’s this week’s post done!  I daresay all these pieces can probably be found on YouTube, though you probably want to be careful about which recordings you listen to.  My general rule of thumb is to go for more established orchestras or performers, though that doesn’t mean amateurs can’t also give a good performance.  I’d probably recommend even going to the library to find these on CD in the classical section – published recordings have a higher likelihood of good quality than Internet recordings.  Please do go and give these a listen, they’re absolutely magnificent pieces and they’re the backbone of Western music today.  Until the next time ❤

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