I’ve written about my love for the original instrumentation Royal Fireworks before, and I was thinking about it again today for no other reason than I live in the hometown of the Royals, I didn’t go to work, and I felt like I was on fire because it’s 108 God damn degrees here. Also, I just felt like playing something absurdly loud and boisterous. The performance below is from the Paillard Wind Ensemble, and cooks quickly even though it’s not thinly sliced or pounded. Anybody? Paillard? Anybody? No? Anyway, while it doesn’t have the sheer destructive power of the “full” instrumental package, it does have the advantage of employing the most nauseatingly French-sounding approach imaginable. In some cases that’s a bad thing, but in this case it just kicks the rage into a new stratosphere of annoying awesomeness. Crank it up and prepare to ruin your family’s night!
Music has lots of gaudy spectacles, and they started long before Lady Gaga or Jay-Z. There are dozens of works of classical music that are bombastic, overwrought, kitschy, melodramatic, or all of the above. The 1812 Overture might be the most famous example (although when compared to Wellington’s Victory six cannon shots isn’t THAT many), but it is by no means the pinnacle of music’s good bad taste.
With apologies to Stockhausen’s Licht, the honor goes to Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, in its original instrumentation. For the uninitiated, the original scoring is: 26 oboes, 14 bassoons, 4 contrabassoons, 2 serpents, 9 trumpets, 9 horns, 3 sets of kettledrums, and 6 side drums. Just read that again and contemplate its sheer awesomeness.
For years, I only knew of the relatively famous Mackerras recording. It was supposedly recorded in the wee hours of the night, as that was the only time they could get 26 (26!) oboes and the rest of the gang in one place. Turns out there’s more. Several more.
I’ve managed to track down five different recordings, all on wondrous LP. The list:
Charles Mackerras/A shitload of people from London
Jean-Claude Malgoire/La Grande Ecurie & La Chambre du Roy
Jean-Francois Paillard/Paillard Chamber Orchestra
Richard Schulze/Telemann Society Orchestra and Band
Johannes Somary/Augmented (I’ll say) Wind Ensemble of the English Chamber Orchestra
I really only posted this because I want some feedback. Does anyone know of any more? If so, leave a comment, because I’ve come this far……..
Do yourself a favor and track down a copy of one of these recordings. And fucking crank it. It’s a hell of a show. Burning down your house with fireworks is of course optional, but recommended.