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Balcony Lovers (Hall of Fame #99-97)

Continuing the countdown of the top 100 popular classics according to Classic FM...

#99 - William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet - Craig Armstrong

Following on from Gladiator, we have another film soundtrack at 99. Although, this entry seems to be all about one scene in particular - the one with the balcony. Unlike Gladiator, I wasn't visualising the film when I listened to this piece, which alters the experience. I did enjoy it though, it's stirring, uplifting without being schmaltzy. One issue with this recording is that I found the change in ambience between the piano and the string section a bit clunky.

#98 By The Beautiful Blue Danube (Opus 314) - Johann Strauss II

This has to be one of the most recognisable classical pieces, and well-worn in contemporary media (think Homer Simpson spoofing Stanley Kubrick, and, from my childhood, VeggieTales' Stuff Stuff Mart Mart). Looking for a YouTube version, I was accosted by André Rieu of course. This unapologetically glitzy show features more balcony (they're just so romantic!) André doesn't take the music too seriously but I reckon composer Johann Strauss would be happy with his rendition. It's party music at the end of the day (There is a track on the accompanying DVD called 'Strauss Party'). I do wonder how the dancers cope with those indulgent pauses. I also wonder if we'll see André Rieu again in this countdown.

#97 English Folk Song Suite - Ralph Vaughan Williams

Fun Fact, the composer's first name is pronounced 'Rafe'. Yep. While I didn't really know this piece, its presentation of various English folk-tunes is comfortingly familiar. There are several "wait, that sounds a bit like ..." moments, including more than a hint of Twelve Days of Christmas towards the end. Drawing on my own experience of medleys and mash-ups, I'm sure Vaughan Williams had fun weaving all these diverse melodies together and it comes across in this recording by the Hal Leonard Concert Band.

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