Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Capriccio Dances

With the Classic 100 Dance countdown this weekend, I thought it was time to reveal my votes, for those who care about such things. It's at least a good chance to share some great music. As usual, the decision of which 10 pieces to vote for was horrendously difficult. Luckily, I left it till there were only two hours left to vote and I desperately needed to get to bed anyway, so my tiredness helped me make the difficult choices.

In the end, I had to ask myself, does that piece really make me move? And with some hard fought honesty I managed to cull such favourites as Ippolitov-Ivanov's Caucasian Sketches. What did make the cut then? Two I discussed in a recent post, Bizet's Farandole and Saint-Saens' Bacchanale. In a break from my usual rule of only one vote per composer I also voted for Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, because, it's the freaking Danse Macabre okay and it really makes the bones dance.

Still specifically dance music, there was Borodin's Prince Igor for the Polovstian Dances which have been moving me since my early teens, particularly after I learnt one on the clarinet; Copland's Rodeo, which has dances like Hoedown and Buckaroo Holiday; and of course Dvorak's Slavonic Dances which are simply brilliant.

My other choices are not dances, but they do make me move when I hear them. Orff's Carmina Burana and Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain are two of my all-time favourite works and they really do go off, as I do with some frenetic air-conducting.

The last two pieces I realised as I voted have particular significance to this blog, being the two capriccios which indirectly led me to the name: Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Itallien and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol. Both written by Romantic Russians thinking about Mediterranean countries, and both exciting romps that never fail to stir the feet to tap and the arms to swing, between softer moods of head swaying.

It was because of these two pieces that I one day decided to figure out what a capriccio was; in short it's a fantasy on a theme, not so much a musical theme but an idea, like Italy or Spain seen through Romantic Russian eyes. If not for these two works then, this blog may not exist. Here's hoping they do well in the countdown. And here's hoping it's a rollicking good selection of works sure to keep the blood flowing and the body moving.

Don't forget to listen, it's a great way to explore new music and enjoy old favourites.

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