Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Night Tomfoolery (3)

Tonight, a celebration of music.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750). A gifted instrumentalist (harpsichord, organ, viola and violin) and one of the best known composers of the Baroque period of music (1600 - 1750).

Bach in 1748.  Cool wig.

Bach wrote an absolute truckload of music during his time. The Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, and (if you were [un]lucky enough to have studied Music B in VCE in 1988 - I did) the Christmas Oratorio are just a few of his many, many, works that are both well known and still performed today.  But perhaps the one piece that is instantly recognisable by everyone above all others is his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (which, for ease of typing, we'll shorten to just "T&F").

Now T&F was orginally composed for organ, but my guess is that for most people this is not how they would have first come in contact with this piece.

Anyone who is a Disney fan, and has seen Fantasia (the original one created in 1940, not the 2000 version) will have heard this piece arranged for orchestra (conducted by the great Leopold Stokowski), and accompanied by graphics in a way that only Disney could.

At the other end of the spectrum, is the synthed up version arranged and performed by the 70s/80s music group Sky (a future tomfoolery topic I think). Yes, I am a fan of Sky and have all their CDs. However I originally remember hearing this piece played as backing music for a video of some sort of speed-boat trip along a river (does anyone else remember this?) which was used on many occassions during early morning cartoon television on Channel 7, as a 3 minute filler before the next Hanna-Barbera cartoon came on.

This piece was on their album Sky 2 (yes, they had very imaginative titles for their albums; see Sky, Sky 3 and Sky 4 for other brilliant titles), and was the only single of theirs to have had any sort of chart success. Here is their orginal music video of T&F:

Some of you music purists out there are now saying "but what about it being played as it was originally intended?". Before I further insult your music senses, here it is being played on an organ (and quite a nice organ it is too).

Now T&F has dozens and dozens of versions on it on YouTube, from the brilliant to the ridiculous. I thought I would now include a couple of truely question-inspiring performances.

Here is a performance on floor-piano, an excellent way of combining exercise with music performance. I think this is recorded somewhere in the USA, given the way the crowd whoops and tries, unsuccessfully, to clap in time.

Here is T&F being played on something described as a glass harp. This appears to be a lot of different wine glasses, all pitched differently using varying amounts of water, being played by rubbing the rim of each glass. Listening to it, it does get quite annoying after a while (but it might just be because I have a blocked ear at the moment).

Canadian Brass, recently judged (somewhere) as one of the best (and probably one of the most famous) brass quintets in the world, has an arrangement of T&F. Here is it, played live as found on the DVD, 3 Nights With Canadian Brass.

The last two for your viewing pleasure.

The first is T&F being played by California Guitar Trio, one of the best Guitar trios going around at the moment:

The final piece (and a clue as to what next week's Tomfoolery will be on) is T&F performed by Extreme Trombone Quartet. Such sounds! Such virtuosity!


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