I can’t quite believe that this is the first time I’ve grabbed something from the classical list since I was in Paris two months ago. Confusingly, this is another Strauss piece – just by the German Richard Strauss who is of no relation to the Viennese Johann Strauss II. All these composers get confusing at the best of times, let alone when you have two in the same time period who have the same last name.
Eine Alpensinfonie is another example of a tone poem (or symphonic poem, depending on whose terminology you follow) which, over the course of 50 minutes and a number of phases, takes you on a day long journey in the Alps. This journey is much more varied and eventful when compared to my hikes around the Black Forest.
The size of the orchestra required to do this piece justice is immense – then again so are the swings in the mood of the piece. It’s like the orchestra equivalent of that thing where you need to pack double the clothes if you have no idea what the weather will be like on holiday. You need the thunder-board for the storm scenes and then you have to have a number of different bells for the pastoral sections in order to evoke delightful alpine cows.
It’s pieces like this, which treats the story as one long movement rather than being a song cycle containing clear divisions, that make me enjoy a good tone poem. It tells an interesting (and mostly intelligible) story where you can easily lose yourself. I know that I should be doing these classical pieces more often, so now that I have job security I’m hoping to start crossing these off more readily.