Sunday, 6 January 2013
Just picked this up for a pound today in a charity shop. The lengthy liner notes from Robert Jones are quite fantastic, here is (almost) the first half:
" The occult has always succeeded in drawing bizarre, colorful, unworldly sounds from the world's great composers. Love, hate, patriotism, vengeance have all been the subjects of great music-making, but none of these more explainable items has succeeded in providing such vast scope for the musical imagination as has the supernatural.
And no wonder. Life beyond death is still as great a mystery as it ever was, which means that the most far-fetched sounds and (in the case of ballets and operas) stories can seem perfectly plausible when convincing music is added. And, of course, one must remember that the Devil is famous for his dancing (as are his demons and witches), something which God and the angels never seem to do in the musical theater.
The works played here by Maestro Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra reflect a variety of devilish doings, some horrifying, some rather light-hearted (the Devil is also known for his sense of humor). Two of these works (by Kachaturian and Ginastera) have nothing to do with the occult but are diabolically exciting just the same.
Modest Mussorgsky's weirdly extravagant Night on Bald Mountain was completed, appropriately enough, in 1867 on the eve of St. John's Day (Midsummer Day), an evening notorius for it's appeal to elves, fairies, and witches. Mussorgsky took his scenario from a drama by Baron Mengden called "The Witch", but, according to the composer, he filled in the details from a book called "Witchcraft" which contains, in Mussorgsky's words, "a very graphic description of a Witches' Sabbath provided by the testimony of a woman on trial, who was accused of being a witch, and had confessed love pranks with Satan himself to the court. The poor lunatic was burned - all this occurred in the sixteenth century. From this description I stored up the construction of the Sabbath."
Mussorgsky obviously had a lot of fun with the piece. His letters bubble with enthusiasm for the subject and pride at his own treatment of it. Of the program, he wrote that it contains an "assembly of the witches, their chatter and gossip; cortege of Satan; unholy glorification of Satan; and Witches' Sabbath." Mussorgsky especially liked his "solemn march for all this nastiness" and predicted to Rimsky-Korsakov that his B-minor theme in the third section would get him locked up in a music conservatory ("these are the witches, stark naked, barbarous, and filthy"). "
I also picked up a copy of Johnny Richards' The Rites of Diablo, (the liner notes explain: "...a sort of black mass during which the participants vilify, insult and by every means possible denegrade the gods of evil." ), Strings for Pleasure play The Best Of Henry Mancini and the record below, which must be the inspiration behind Boyd Rice's Music, Martinis and Misanthropy.