October 7, 2011
Curl up with the classics is the premise for this three part series released by Delos. Each of the nineteen selections on the mystery classics is a chapter that you can enjoy much like a book. Delos has taken a classical selection and given it an interesting title or chapter. With Halloween around the corner there are tracks that will provide eerie background music for trick or treaters. From Bach to Stravinsky classical composers have always been interested in evil, demons, witches, sorcery, Satan, and all sorts of spells and black magic. In addition consider this offering a sample of the Delos catalog which has a new fresh improved website at http://delosmusic.com/ For your convenience I’ve listed the catalog number of where the recording came from.
The Phantom at the Organ (2:55) (DE 3028) is a creepy organ offering of Bach’s Toccata in D Minor, a selection that has been heard in many a horror film. A nice introduction to Bach, it may lure you to explore more of his material. This is likely one of the top ten classical melodies of all time. This one is good background music for Halloween.
Vale of Dreams (2:53) (DE 3099) was composed by Griffes (1884-1920), an early 20th Century American composer, who wrote some beautiful piano works from 1910-1919. This melody was definitely influenced by Debussy and is a haunting theme that can conjure up all sorts of illusions.
Night Winds (1:37) (DE 3099) continues the melody from the previous track offering piano harmony.
In The Dark of Night (2:32) (DE 3051) was composed by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) and is part of the “Firebird Suite,” a ballet written in 1910. The work begins with the melody coming from the lower register of the orchestra and is a good test for your woofer. It is one of the creepier moments of classical music. The brass offer disturbing harmony.
The Evil Sorcerer (4:59) (DE 3051) continues with “Firebird Suite” beginning with a jagged rhythm from the percussion. A theme not unlike “Dies Irae” is offered by the brass that is filled with evil and horror. There is a conflict that fills your ears between the sharp percussion and the lurking evil theme which returns. It ends with loud dissonant chords from the brass.
Mysterious Encounter (2:03) (DE 3162) was composed by 20th century American composer Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000). The Bagatelle No. 1 is a quiet Oriental piece with melody from the violin and pentatonic scale consisting of string plucking in the background. Not sure this one belongs on the CD unless the tie in is an air of mystery from the Far East.
The Forbidden Garden (3:36) (DE 3162) begins with a variation of the theme from the previous track. The Bagatelle No. 4 end on a more traditional note with another melody and the string plucking is no longer in the pentatonic scale.
Agent in Peril (4:43) (DE 3043) is from a Bela Bartok (1881-1945) chamber work “Contrasts” which was commissioned by Benny Goodman in 1938. For those of you who don’t know the swing king was very interested in serious music and this perfectly named title does create a mood of intrigue and suspense. There are tense moments and one could imagine someone as a lost soul. The piano chords abrupt and very dreary add to the track.
Lost in the Rain Forest (7:31) (DE1017) composed by Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is a largo from his “Fantasia” that features the cello of Janos Starker. There is an air of mystery from the orchestra and no hint of his Brazilian heritage. While certainly not in the mystery category it is a pleasant to listen to track.
The Firebird’s Spell (3:09) (DE 1014) is also from “The Firebird Suite” and sounds positively creepy performed on the theremin with soft piano in the background. If you’re not familiar with the theremin it is an electronic device that is played by moving your hands over the electronic field it generates. It became very popular in science fiction films offering a spacey, eerie, and supernatural sound. Bernard Herrmann used two of them in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
The Intruder (2:53) (DE 3136) is a Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) work taken from his quintet that included oboe and clarinet. It is a dissonant chamber piece that offers “Psycho” like slashing strings and does offer a melody of sorts but overall this is a moody disturbing piece.
The Deserted Encampment (7:22) (DE 3151) was written by Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), who wrote in Hungary at the same time Bartok did. Taken from his “Serenade” this second movement, a lento ma non troppo, begins with tremolo violins backing a viola solo of mystery and intrigue. There is good dialogue between the viola and the violins.
The Mysterious Bird (2:22) (DE 3051) is the fourth selection from Stravinsky taken from his “Song of the Nightingale.” It begins in a twisted fashion with the brass before the flute offers a sane melody. It ends on a note of discord.
Apparitions (1:14) (DE/CS 6003) is another selection from Prokofiev taken from his “Prince Ivan and the Frog Princess” and is a solo piano work performed by Carol Rosenberger.
Poltergeists (1:55) (DE/CS 6003) is taken from the same Prokofiev work and is somewhat whimsical.
Hobgoblins (1:49) (DE/CS 6004) is taken from Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and again falls into the category of what is the mystery? It’s a pretty melody, as are most of his.
Ghosts (1:58) (DE/CS 6002) is from William Walton (1902-1983) and is arranged for two pianos. The work is similar to the previous three in style.
Gargoyles and Chimeras (7:40) (DE 3077) is an eerie piece for organ composed by Frenchman Louis Vierne (1870-1937). The ghostly theme is carried on for the majority of the work and is a good creepy entry.
Dark Moon (8:28) (DE 3004) is from Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). It is the third movement of his Quartet in F and is a sad longing work of love lost, reflective in nature with yearning being ever present.
Not only does this CD offer some scary tracks but it is also a fine compilation for you to explore works you’re not familiar with. Sound quality is excellent.
Delos CD# 1601
Total Time is 69:39