1812 Blue Balls

Bloggified by Jake on Friday, November 27, 2009

On Thanksgiving--though for no discernible reason relating to the holiday--Amazon offered The 99 Most Essential Tchaikovsky Masterpieces for a buck-99. Tchaikovsky is easily my favorite composer and I'd pay two bucks just for a good version of the "1812 Overture." In fact, I know I paid more back when I was buying cassettes during the early 1990's.

Unfortunately, this is not a good version of the "1812 Overture."

I haven't yet listened to the other 98 MP3s, and I don't know when I will. My heart really isn't in it right now.

The "1812 Overture" will run about seventeen minutes, but the first fourteen are essentially foreplay for the last three. The problem lies in the fact that you don't know if you're listening to a good version or a bad one until you get to the last three minutes.

A good version hits you in the chest with the percussive force of a cannon shot. Sixteen cannon shots to be precise, broken up by an ethereal, dreamlike lilting of strings, behind which ring church bells and sings a choir proclaiming Russian victory over Napoleon.

This version, by the London Symphony Orchestra, sounds like, instead of cannons, someone fired a starter's pistol a dozen times or so, stopping only to allow the victory bells to ring from what sounds like about two counties over. Weak cannonfire, less-than-triumphant bells, and a lack of choir makes for a dissatisfying "1812 Overture."

It's like having your girlfriend promise you a blow job if you rub her back for a little while, only to find when you roll over after half an hour of kneading muscles that she's fallen asleep. But in this case, instead of trawling the internet for porn, I'm scrambling to YouTube for a good cut of the finale to relieve the pent up desire for release that's built up so as to avoid Tchaikovsky blue balls.

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