Your humble blogger is in even more of a “kick ass and take names” mood than usual, while stymied in terms of being able to act on that sentiment. For instance, while the doctors and the various therapists at my mother’s current hospital are terrific, the nurses are another story. Two of many offenses: they abandoned her on the toilet, so long she started falling asleep, which means she could have fallen off and cracked her skull open. Another time they left her in a wheelchair (not comfortable!) with the call device out of reach. At most hospitals and nursing homes, that’s a firing offense. So bombast is therapeutic.
To me, bombast benefits from noisy choruses. But to each his own!
As much as I love Carmina Burana and the particularly overwrought parts of The Ring cycle, like the Ride of the Valkeries or Brünnhilde’s Immolation scene in Götterdämmerung), I know both have detractors. So perhaps more of you will enjoy these selections.
Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Nevsky, The Fight on the Ice. This clip from the movie is longer than the symphonic version, but even with primitive staging by modern standards, many sections are moving. Prokofiev composed his score from the rough cut of the film.
Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Commendatore (the final scene). Don Giovanni, who per Mozart is really scummy, goes to hell!
Speaking of choruses, this one from the finale of Les Miserables produces a gratifying wall of sound:
And how can we overlook Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem “Dies irae”:
I have to throw in Igor Kutroy’s Olympico, written for and sung by Dimash, because Dimash, the staging, and also because everyone performing appears to be having a grand time. But interspersing the male and female chorus members has to have made their jobs more difficult.
If you are too pressed to listen to Dimash’s lush baritone, at least tune in starting at 4:20 to hear the finale.
And speaking of Verdi, Gilbert and Sullivan’s seldom performed Princess Ida (because it has three rather than two acts, hence usually three rather than two sets, plus two soprano and tenor soloists versus the usual one of each) has a sendup of Verdi finales at the end of the second act. I’m providing the entire scene but the nod to Verdi starts at 6:00:
And as much as I am a choral music fan, they aren’t essential to packing a punch:
Hector Berlioz – Symphonie fantastique, marche au supplice
And of course Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra
I’ve admittedly focused on warhorses, but there does tend to be selection bias. Bombastic compositions usually require powerful sound, which then usually means a full orchestra and/or chorus, meaning you can’t produce them on a shoestring. And professional music groups find it necessary to salt their performances with enough crowd-pleasers to fill seats.
That’s a long-winded way of saying personal faves, particularly not as well trafficked ones, very much appreciated!