As a fair number of you know, Fall is my favorite season of the year.  Specifically, I get pretty wound up when October knocks on the door with its gift basket of chilly wind, gray skies, and general fear of something creepy lurking around the corner.

You know, Halloween.

This year, because of an unexpected turn of mildly unpleasant weather, the cool temperatures, sunless sky and constant drizzle have fooled me into thinking October 31st is waiting to spring at any moment.   I’m okay with that.  So, this morning (like, say, 4:00 when the Insta-Princess insists–for some silly reason–my proper place is in bed), I stumbled downstairs and starting rooting through our vast but only semi-organized collection of CDs.  Finally, after agonizing minutes of searching (where I accidentally found my long-lost Bat Out Of Hell II disc inside a Doobie Brothers case), I managed to pull free from the grabby mountain of musical clutter my Devil’s Dance CD.

Devil’s Dance isn’t entirely filled with spooky music, but it tries, and because of that attempt, the numbers chosen, and the masterful playing of Gil Shaham on his Comtesse de Polignac Stradivarius (accompanied by Jonathan Feldman on piano), it is, for me, the quintessential Halloween album.

Without a doubt its best number–and the most fitting for album–is Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre.  Both Shaham and Feldman are at their best playing this selection; a dynamic duo without the tights and with slightly more diginity.  It was this playing that tripped my old desire to learn how to play the violin.  Unfotunately, I have little musical talent, which is probably why I’ll forever crush on Flora when she strokes the strings of her cello.

A slightly more bombastic tune, but still ghoul-worthy is John William’s Devil’s Dance from The Witches of Eastwick.  Yeah, I know, the guy who wrote the Star Wars theme and the Superman March hit one out of the ballpark for Satan.  That’s cool.

Of particular note is Giuseppe Tartini’s Devil’s Trill –or, Sonata in G Minor.  Supposedly the devil invaded Tartini’s dream and played a brilliant tune on his violin; upon waking, Tartini then tried to record what he heard.  The end result isn’t frightening (the legend of its origin is what ties it to this collection of musical pieces), but it is a very demanding piece, requiring almost insane speed and accuracy.  You don’t hear it very often for this reason, but Shaham takes it on and does a wonderful job.

So, Halloween, I have your soundtrack and await your arrival.  You great pumpkin, you.

Posted Thursday, September 4th, 2008 at 3:21 pm
Filed Under Category: Life
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