That's what I've been missing all this time wrapping presents and cleaning up house and decorating and dealing with people.....the music, the music itself with all the lights and colours and shadows. I've been wanting like crazy to put on The Nutcracker or Handel's Messiah and just wallow in the whole length of it, instead of just snippets here and there on the radio, or just CDs short enough to not dominate anyone's moods but mine. I want to blast my Christmas music through the house and not have to worry about everyone hangin' around watching TV 'cause they're all home too.
Well, we did (over dinner) watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. ORIGINAL version, thank you very much, and my mother's one complaint is that "It's too short" -- which is true -- one can't quite get enough of either Boris Karloff's voice or that superlatively-heartwaming (and expanding /:)) Who-caroling..... As soon as the opening credits and music started, I started to get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from old favourites -- something true and dependable that'll never let you down in the authentic emotion department, that's the idea.
Other music/movies that work on this count:
It's a Wonderful Life -- Make it to the end and you'll feel it all right as "Auld Lang Syne" surges forth, even if it's easily termed cheesy and overexposed as a holiday movie....Merry Christmas, ya old Building & Loan!!!
Scrooge -- Aka the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol. Gotta love that graveyard scene...and the spooky voices howling despair...and that lovely chamber arrangement of "Barbara Allen"....
The Dark Crystal -- Cosmic wholeness and regeneration.....need I say more?
Star Wars -- Original trilogy so far as depth--otherwise the thing that has the most resonance is just the music itself, esp. the Jedi theme and that familiar pattern of ending-cadence rising and then immediately tumbling breakneck into the main title theme as the credits roll.....:D
The Phantom of the Opera -- Preferably the original London cast recording, when the intensity was fresh and Michael Crawford was cutting-edge intense.
Les Miserables -- Yeah, the musical...especially the whole finale, which practically rips your heart out and them warms it with overworldly visions of freedom/redemption/perfect social justice.
"Love Song For a Vampire" -- The song over credits at the end of Bram Stoker's Dracula, by Annie Lennox...perfect and powerful, even moreso than the film itself.
"Into the West" -- More Annie Lennox, over the ending credits for The Return of the King. Actually, this is, together with the ending credits and their visuals, a summation of the entire trilogy and the production of it, and so the vibe that I get off of it is this monumental "labour of love" consummation that flows right off the screen. I personally consider the entire score of LOTR from start to finish to be one of the greatest in all of filmscore history.
"Unchained Melody" -- As used in Ghost -- the Righteous Brothers version and all the ways that theme is woven into the score. I know it's a "romantic" fave anyhow, but hey...
"The Thief of Your Heart" -- Sinead O'Connor, to wind up and resolve In the Name of the Father....I have a hard time putting up with all the emotional tension and outright injustice in the movie's course (and often have had to leave the room 'cause I get so pissed off), but this is the song that I'll stick it through to the end for, this and the wash of relief in the final verdicts, though belated and with so much time and youth lost.
Pachelbel Kanon in D -- All-string arrangement, with a deep dark almost-groaning pulse in the cello line and the yearning keenness of the violins as they weave their filigree atop and throughout...this has always struck me as a "processional of all the ages" type of piece, despite its topical popularity as a wedding march. And speaking of wedding marches.....
"The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" -- More Handel, and just stuff that feels goooood....this one's that bustling flurrying of strings and light horns that you might have detected in Four Weddings and Funeral, as one of the wedding processionals there.
And even though it's not a wedding march but a coronation anthem, I must include "Zadok the Priest", which was featured in The Madness of King George....it builds from a sedate traveling-line of pulsing strings into a truly imposing wave of song, both stately and almost primal in effect.
The ending chorus of the sorceress' restored-to-human lovers in Alcina, also, has a fullness of dramatic tension/resolution within it that belies the outright lightheartedness of the dances that follow it to end the opera....heh, give me the denouement and retransformations, but the 'back to normalcy' post-climax is something I can do without....let 'em figure it out by themselves :P
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony -- The faithful-to-the-score rendition by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which I've heard on WFMT a lot lately (even waking up to it), gets to the heart of the matter the best, with its pacing and intensity uncompromised....I am convinced by now that Beethoven's culminating vision was that of a music of the spheres, unbound by human cultural forms and expanding to include the entire universe as its field of sound and imagination.
Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection") -- Something that must be heard and felt with one's whole being, an odyssey of cataclysm and transcendence...music as mystical ordeal.
Albinoni's Adagio -- The version I have on LP is the definitive one imo, with a strong organ bass line, lush strings and a keening violin solo (no, the organ cannot achieve the degree of acoustic penetration...). When the main theme gushes out at the climax of the piece and the organ floods in beneath, it's always given me the visual impression of a drowning city, a huge and horrifyingly-beautiful tragedy.
Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings -- Otherwise known as that music that they used in Platoon...ascending and pausing and waning and rising and building until that climactic shimmering laser-beam of sound that makes one feel as if, to quote Emily Dickinson, "the top of my head were coming off"...
"Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice -- Also used, very pointedly, in Jean Cocteau's film on the same theme...there, its yearning qualities are all the more highlighted in isolation, and as a reference to the whole myth from within a modern-dress version.
"The Last Spring" -- Edvard Grieg, one of his two Elegiac Melodies....I have the music for the song version on hand too, and it is a good text, but the all-strings version is, well...rather good at pulling at my heartstrings, so to speak. And vis-a-vis Grieg, there's also all the music for Peer Gynt....even a better listen if you've actually read the story of the wayward wanderer, which I did when I was about 8 or 9 in a junior-classic series called My Book House....damn, I'd love to get my hands on that whole series again....
Actually, in the realm of classical music and opera, there is so much that I thrive on that it's really a bit silly to try narrowng it down atall, as I'll only think of more things as soon as I hit post. So don't take this as a complete list of my likings by any means, just in case there was any temptation to do so. It's really barely scratching the surface.