Camille Saint-Saens
Danse macabre, Op.40


4.5
superb

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
December 28th, 2010 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1874 | Tracklist


Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking a tomb with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
-Henri Cazalis
A graveyard lies still in the dark, silent night. A harp plays twelve soft notes - the sound of a distant bell tolling midnight - and all is still once more. Out of nowhere, a violin cackles, piercing the air - it is the fiddle of Death calling to him his followers. Slowly, they rise out of their graves to the sound of a lone flue and begin a hellish dance - they dance, for it is Hallows’ Eve.

Death now joins the flute, playing the same melody on his fiddle, but adding to it a new vitality. For two dead lovers, long rotten and covered in mold, he plays a soft, romantic tune, but he soon returns to his followers, which now grow in number, and plays with them again. The motif that introduced the skeletons is repeated, but now it is not played by Death’s lone fiddle: an entire orchestra of the dead play the passage.

The dead dance - king with peasant, thief with judge - as their bones, ice-cold xylophones, rattle. The dance grows into a fiery pirouette: skeletons spiral and twirl around each other frantically as Death stands above them, fiddling on a tombstone. A stray hand grabs the cloak that Death is dressed in and yanks down; the cloak tumbles down and Death skeletal body stands, naked, playing even more passionately than before. The lovers’ bodies intertwine in a frenzy, and soon they are engulfed by legions of the dancing dead.

The sea of rotting bones swells and grows, and out of it emerges Death, standing triumphant. His fiddle and the orchestra escalate into a violent cacophony, crescendoing until they reach a stunning climax. And then, in just one moment, the horde implodes upon itself.

The dead fall into their graves, Death stands alone, and the graveyard, once again lies still. A trumpet plays a fanfare - the sound of a rooster crowing, heralding the coming of the rising Sun - and Death walks away, humming a quiet melody, a sly smile painted across his face.



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user ratings (16)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
December 28th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wrote this on a whim, my second time reviewing classical music. Please listen to this, it's not very long and also check out Vladimir Horowitz's transcription for solo piano - it's just as good as the orchestral version. The piece is based upon a poem by Calizas which I quote at the top, and I tried to blend the music with the concept in my writing. Hope that you'll enjoy it!

By the way, I'm going up North to visit some old friends tomorrow, I probably won't be on Sputnik very much until Monday.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2010


31628 Comments


http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/shop_image/product/0362a70c34d1827be64c2902af3f9338.jpg

Fine to use that as artwork?

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

vanderb0b
December 28th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, that one is fine. Thanks, man!

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2010


16137 Comments


Sounds pretty cool. I like the review.

vanderb0b
December 28th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Here's a link to the whole thing for anyone interested, by the way. It's a fairly short and digestible piece, by classical music's standards. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyknBTm_YyM

Sounds pretty cool. I like the review

Thanks! This was one of my more unorthodox reviews and one of the hardest ones for me to write, so I really wasn't sure of its quality.

conradtao
Emeritus
December 28th 2010


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Rating classical works feels so arbitrary for me, but I've decided on a 3.5. I've liked this work for, what, nine years?

This was a really fun read, going to read your other reviews now! Pos.

vanderb0b
December 28th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you!

Rating classical works feels so arbitrary for me

It really is pretty awkward, especially considering that we use the same scale to rate classical works and contemporary albums, and it's really hard to compare the two.


Jethro42
December 28th 2010


12638 Comments


Very good composition, dude. Loved that piece of music. Both go together well.

vanderb0b
December 28th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Jethro! While we're on a classical thread, check these two pieces out, they're both great:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejXPcv9MS7s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsD0FDLOKGA

Zettel
December 28th 2010


604 Comments


You made me read the review more than twice, which is a good sign. It is unorthodox, but very good. I picture you writing much better stuff, you have improved a lot. Also, thanks for the links.

Jethro42
December 28th 2010


12638 Comments


Awesome! Cheers, Vander.

vanderb0b
December 28th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Zettel! Sputnik really did help me improve my writing, you're right. Cheers, Jethro!

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2010


7321 Comments


Where's the guttural vocals on this thing?

Excellent review Vanderb0b (as usual). The concept is particularly unique and it makes for some interesting reading and penmanship. Have a pos.

Have a good trip!

Jethro42
December 28th 2010


12638 Comments


Sputnik really did help me improve my writing

Same here. My English keeps on improving since I'm a sputniker.

Aaron
December 29th 2010


652 Comments


Don't mean to be a dick, but I'm not sure that referring to this as classical is appropriate, nonetheless the review hits the spot.

vanderb0b
December 29th 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks!

Don't mean to be a dick, but I'm not sure that referring to this as classical is appropriate

Strictly speaking, it's from the Romantic period, which is usually considered to be a part of classical music.
Where's the guttural vocals on this thing?

For those, you'll have to wait until my next review.

Minion
April 15th 2011


14 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Danse Macabre is an epic piece in itself; what else does this review refer to?



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