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Heavy Classical Music - Page 3

post #31 of 93
Shostakovich symphonies 5, 7, 8 and 10 are all dark, heavy stuff. 5 and 10 are the most accessible - there is a widely praised set of 5 and 10 conducted by Skrowaczewski. You should also check out his 1st cello concerto (one of the 3 greatest ever written), which starts out a bit quirky but turns very bleak. The Tortelier/Berglund recording is the best, but Kliegel/Wit on Naxos is also very recommendable.

Bruckner symphonies 4 and 9. None heavier \m/>_<\m/. Get Karajan on EMI for 4, and Giulini on Deutsche Gramophon for 9. Also check out Bruckner's powerhouse choral work Te Deum.

Speaking of cello concertos, the Elgar concerto is extremely dark, and another of the 3 greatest cello concertos ever written (the third one is by Dvorak). The classic recording is Du Pre conducted by Barbirolli on EMI. Elgar's In the South symphonic poem also has much heaviosity.

Mahler is good, but I usually find him overlong and too hysterical. Symphonies 1, 2, 5, 6 are probably most what you are looking for. You might as well pick up the Bertini boxset from EMI - it's very cheap and well recorded.

For something different, try Prokofiev's piano concertos. The first three are best, the most powerful, exciting and tuneful. Get the Beroff/Masur 2-CD set on EMI. You'll only need to play the first disc, but it's so cheap it doesn't matter.

Smetana's symphonic poem sequence Ma Vlast is one people mightn't immediately think of, but it's certainly epic, especially the first two and last two movements (of six). Mackerras on Supraphon is excellent; Wit on Naxos is cheaper and pretty good.

Saint-Saens' Symphony no. 3 is great fun. It features an epic part for pipe-organ in the last movement. The classic RCA Living Stereo recording by Munch still sounds awesome (but there's a small amount of hiss).


Vaughan Williams has a reputation for writing nice pastoral music, but in fact some of his symphonies are among the heaviest, darkest music you will hear. Check out symphony 4 (his most raucous) and 7 "Antartica" (his most epic). As with Mahler, you'll do well to just pick up a boxset, Previn on RCA in this case. This is the box I recommend overall for this composer. If you get it, also check out his grand 2nd symphony "London", his peaceful 3 "Pastoral" and 5, and the darkly atmospheric 9 (his last).
post #32 of 93
Originally Posted by eyeresist View Post
For something different, try Prokofiev's piano concertos. The first three are best, the most powerful, exciting and tuneful. Get the Beroff/Masur 2-CD set on EMI. You'll only need to play the first disc, but it's so cheap it doesn't matter.
I have the EMI disc of Martha Argerich and Charles Dutoit doing Prokoviev 1 & 3 and Bartok's 3rd. It's one of my favorites.

Also, try Prokofief's Symphony No. 5. The First Movement in particular.

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Rimsky-Korsakov's Orchestration of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Several movements: "Catacombs," "The Hut of Baba Yaga," "The Great Gate of Kiev," et. al... Plenty of dark/weighty stuff there.

Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" -- and not just the first movement.

Otto Respighi's "The Pines of Rome"

x2 Most of the suggestions on here. Lots of good stuff!
post #33 of 93
I believe Suk was mentioned in a previous post.

Suk's Asrael Symphony fits the Heavy description and it takes patience to navigate the musical landscape. Suk's Mentor Dvorak and his wife both died within a year of one another. To deal with the loss, Suk poured all his soul in this work and it shows. A work of shear unabashed emotional and artistic genius. Recordings: [Belohlávek, and Czech Philharmonic Orchestra - CHANDOS, Petrenko, Berlin Comic Opera Orchestra - CPO, Ashkenazy, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra - Ondine, also there is a new recording out next week that is getting some good buzz Flor, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra - BIS]

Others have mentioned Shostakovich and Mahler.... I won't add anything to those suggestions other than the fact that I own far more recordings of their symphonies than anyone really should and will continue to buy more.

Some others I might recommend....

Gliere: 3rd Symphony 'Ilya Muromets' (Fantastic work... though like the Suk takes patience and many listens)

Martinu: The Epic of Gilgamesh (Oratorio) has some wonderful orchestra writing. Not particularly operatic but full of singing and essentially narration as it tells a story. However if you get adventurous give it a try. There is a fantastic performance on the Naxos label with Zdenek Kosler Conducting the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. Best thing is it will only set you back around $7

Bartok: Miraculous Mandarin

Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra

Dutilleux: 1st and 2nd Symphonies

Honegger: Particularly Symphonies 2 and 3 (Really just about anything Honegger is heavy)

Tchaikovsky: 4th, 6th and Manfred symphonies in particular

Liszt: Dante Symphony

Respighi: Sinfonia Drammatica

I'm sure I'll think of more....

Brian C.
post #34 of 93


can anyone tell me the piece of music at the start of this video

YouTube - Mirko Cro Cop Filipović Kick Of Death Highlights
post #35 of 93
All recomendations so far have been fantastic. I'll specifically second the Shostakovich #13, (my favorite symphony of his) and the Verdi Requiem and I'll add Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky, probably my favorite of the truly heavy classics. Also Prokofiev Scythian Suite - second movement is about as heavy as classical gets.
post #36 of 93
All good suggestions!

If you're looking for a heavy metal kind of driving intense sound, the Four Seasons by Vivaldi has that kind of grinding drive.
post #37 of 93
Try Bartok's Opera, "Bluebeard". With the light turned low
post #38 of 93
Although opera may not be what you are looking for, I forgot to add another exellent dark work: Boito's Mephisofeles. It's the story of Faust told more from the Devil's perspective.
post #39 of 93
This stuff is great! Thanks!
post #40 of 93
Originally Posted by Zaubertuba View Post
I have the EMI disc of Martha Argerich and Charles Dutoit doing Prokoviev 1 & 3 and Bartok's 3rd. It's one of my favorites.
I second that, Prokofiev is amazing! The Argerich/Dutoit CD you mentioned is one of my favorites as well.

The darkest of the piano concertos is certainly the second one. In it Prokofiev deals with the suicide of a friend. Just check out the long cadenza in the first movement, and then the reentry of the orchestra...incredible. My favorite performances of the second concerto on CD are the one by Horacio Gutierrez with Jervi, and the Ashkenazy one with Previn and the LSO.

Although not very audiophile, I HIGHLY recommend watching the this peformance (and the following parts of it!) on youtube. It's by the young pianist Anna Vinnitskaya, and it won her a big competition a few years back. The performance is simply breathtaking imho, but I haven't been able to get a hold of a CD version yet.

Slightly OT: Although not particularly dark, I have to mention Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra, which is a piece that I think is usually underrated. If you are getting into Prokofiev, have a look at this piece! Of course one can't go wrong with Rostropovich's recording of it, but I really like the recent CD by Han-Na Chang with Pappano and the LSO, which happens to have an amazing sound quality as well.

Other dark music I enjoy very much are Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony, Berlioz' Sinfonie Fantastique (big parts of it are not very dark or heavy, but the last two movements do rock hard!), Liszt's Faust Symphony (the Mephisto Movement is pretty dark), Bernstein's Second Symphony, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
As already mentioned, there are lots of dark pieces in chamber music as well, and they can also be heavy...for example Prokofiev's late piano sonatas, Liszt's piano sonata, some of Bartok's string quartets, some of Shostakovich's String quartets, Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time (dark!).
post #41 of 93
Originally Posted by Masonjar View Post

Sibelius 2nd Symphony. One of my favorites that I don't mention too often.

Great to hear someone mention this work. I love it, especially the Bernstein version. It's emotional possibly brooding, not sure it's all that heavy. Fantastic nonetheless.
post #42 of 93
Contemporary: Shostakovich (violin, symphony, quartet), Prokofiev (violin concerto)

Romantic: Beethoven (many), Brahms (many) Danse Macabre by Saint Saens. Also Verdi's Requiem, and Chopin can be quite dark at times.

Classical: Mozart's Requiem, 25th and 40th Symphonies

Baroque: Bach organ works.


But if you want more emotion in your music, I suggest listening to film soundtracks, for example, The Dark Knight soundtrack is one of my favorite OSTs, composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. It's every bit orchestral, but with more lyricism and emotion.
post #43 of 93
No one has mentioned Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique?

The fourth movement is a musical representation of an execution, dreamt of by a man heavily sedated by opium. When we covered this in my colledge music history course, even the kids who were generally bored to tears sat up and listened.
post #44 of 93
Originally Posted by DeusEx View Post
Piano concertos or symphonies?
I'd say both.
post #45 of 93
Since I play piano, I'm biased toward the piano concertos....actually never heard his symphonies..
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