A Classical Halloween, pt 2: Rounding to 13

Oct 30, 2014

As promised, the classical Halloween countdown continues - thanks for your input!  Earlier, I posted eight picks; here are five more classical scares to bring the count up to 13. (And in the next post I'll add those you suggested.)  Here are some youtube versions. Again, if you have any other candidates, let me know at classical@iowapublicradio.org  or at our Facebook post:

Erlkoenig by Moritz von Schwind
Credit public domain/ wikipedia

Franz Schubert - Der Erlkönig ("The Alder King") - Goethe's 1782 poem about a very bad spirit lives on because in 1815, an 18-year-old named Franz Schubert set it to truly terrifying music. Nobody sings his version better than the great American mezzo Jessye Norman:

Henry Purcell - Was he the supreme English composer? It's arguable, but he was clearly a king of Halloween-ready masterpieces. I could make a case for his The Fairy Queen, but I'm going with a listener suggestion: the Witches from Dido and Aeneas. Let's just say that "Do no harm" was not their motto, but "make 'em laugh" could have been. And nobody hams it up more than Dominique Visse and Stephen Wallace, in the (delightfully tacky) recording by Rene Jacobs :

Camille Saint-Saens - Danse Macabre - This delectable spookfest exists in two versions - the familiar violin piece (based on the familiar image of death playing the fiddle) and also an earlier version with a text. I'll play that one tomorrow, but here's the instrumental danse, literally Gangnam style:

Igor Stravinsky - The Russian genius earned his way into the Halloween hall of fame, but WHICH of his tales of the supernatural should I pick? Tune in tomorrow, but for now, here's a full documentary about one candidate, a postwar masterpiece called The Soldier's Tale. Artur Rubinstein's son John narrates, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts, and MacArthur "genius" Leila Josefowicz plays the violin solo:

Jaromir Weinberger - Schwanda the Bagpiper Polka and Fugue - The most famous opera by this Czech composer centers on love overcoming a diabolical deal, and its Polka and Fugue deserve their "hit" status. But who knew they're a bass-clarinet concerto in disguise?