Here is a compilation of some of the most spectacular classical works ever written. That is not to say they are all thunderingly loud, and many are not loud all the time. Perhaps one of the elements that separates classical music from other genres is its contrasts in volume and all the shades in between. These composers were experts at using dynamic contrasts to great effect. Music by these great composers is now so ofter used as background to films and documentaries that we have forgotten how to really listen to it in all its varied moods. With orchestras of more than 100 performers we run the gamut from calm and evocative to exciting and dramatic. Holst's The Planets exemplifies orchestral effect to the utmost in its marvellous depiction of space. Wagner features stirring opera music and the sort of power chords that would impress heavy metal fan. One of my favourites, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is a spectacular piece that still has the power to upset listeners of a nervous disposition. Listen to its mesmerising pounding rhythms. More sonic thrills await in Saint-Saen's finale of his Third Symphony.
To top it all, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture comes complete with bells and cannons.All up, there are excerpts from 26 exhilirating works some of which may drive you into a frenzy in their extremism so turn down the volume until you adjust some of the most powerful and extrovert music ever written. • Toowoomba Chronicle, November 2006
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