Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture, Romeo & Juliet, The Nutcracker Suite (1987)

NUMBERS WEEK (MARCH 14-20, 2011)

Sir Georg Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Next July 4th, pay close attention to the music played during the fireworks. Most shows end with two patriotic pieces: Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever and, most curiously, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Granted, the 1812 Overture is indeed a patriotic piece - if you are a Russian. The piece, written in 1882, celebrates Napoleon's retreat from Moscow in 1812. However, Tchaikovsky wrote that famous cannon part at the end of the piece, ensuring that this piece will be heard at fireworks shows from now on. Now a nation of musical illiterates will think that this great work has something to do with the USA. Oh well, never let the truth get in the way of entertainment. The composer himself described the 1812 Overture as "very noisy" and "with no artistic merit in it."

You might not recognize the piece by its name, but Romeo and Juliet's main theme is often used during love scenes in movies. You've heard it before. You've heard it so much, it has become a parody of itself and is used in movies and TV shows such as Wayne's World, Scrubs, Ren and Stimpy Show, South Park, Spongebob Squarepants, Pushing Daisies, etc.

And, of course, you hear the Nutcracker Suite every December in countless ads. If Tchaikovsky were alive today, he'd be rich on his royalties (not that he was poor during his lifetime).

Tracks: This could be considered a "Tchaikovsky's Greatest Hits" CD. The Chicago Symphony is superb and Sir Georg's interpretations are spot on. The CSO is renown for its brass section, which brought its A-game to this recording session, particularly on the 1812 Overture.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I usually listen to this disc around Christmas for The Nutcracker Suite. Strange hearing that piece in March.

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