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Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Beethoven’s Last Night

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Beethoven’s Last Night
by Mike Novak at 31 October 2010, 3:10 PM

Who would have thought that after over a decade of relative obscurity, a Christmas-themed side project featuring members of and people associated with SAVATAGE would turn into one of the biggest rock bands on the Earth, with tours selling out arenas in America? Personally, I credit TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA as a band that got me into heavy metal. Al Pitrelli’s lead guitar on their renditions of classics like “O Holy Night” and “The Nutcracker” made me entranced by the sound of lead guitar and even though they’re relatively light compared to what I’ve been listening to recently, I still love much of their music.

“Beethoven’s Last Night” was originally released in 2000, but up until this re-release, was very difficult to find, probably because up until last year’s “Nightcastle, it was their only non-holiday release, so it was often shelved in a separate location from the holiday albums. Considering how well “Nightcastle” sold, people are definitely accepting of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA as a real band as opposed to a Christmas-related gimmick.

The title is pretty self-explanatory. This is a concept album about Beethoven’s last night, involving The Devil, muses and self-examination, as well as a 10th Symphony that he had been working on. The whole idea might be a bit too over-the-top for some. This is definitely NOT a metal album, however that does not mean that it is not worthwhile. The style is typical of a Broadway-style rock opera.

On the bright-side the songs are generally well-written with a number of different singers playing the various characters including Jon Oliva himself as Mephistopheles. There are some great interpretations of various classical pieces, including the zenith, “Mephistopheles’ Return”, which has the first movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata as a foundation. Other Beethoven favorites show up, like his best-known work, the first movement of the 5th Symphony as well as the first movement of his “Moonlight Sonata”.

The obvious downside for people like me and people that are probably reading this is that there are times where I wish the band would rock out more. There are too few solos and actual guitar riffs and I feel a lot of this band’s instrumental talents are wasted.

If one can get past the lack of heaviness and can accept the music for what it is (it took me a while, but I did it) then they are in for a treat, because this is a very-well written album with great music, good singing performances and an intriguing storyline. While I doubt they’ll ever top their debut, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”, “Beethoven’s Last Night” is a solid album which is now thankfully more readily available for the fans that may have missed this the first time around.

P.S. Be sure to catch them on their upcoming European tour.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Overture
  2. Midnight
  3. Fate
  4. What Good This Deafness
  5. Mephistopheles
  6. What Is Eternal
  7. The Moment
  8. Vienna
  9. Mozart
  10. The Dreams Of Candlelight
  11. Requiem
  12. I'll Keep Your Secrets
  13. The Dark
  14. Für Elise
  15. After The Fall
  16. A Last Illusion
  17. This Is Who You Are
  18. Beethoven
  19. Mephistopheles' Return
  20. Misery
  21. Who Is This Child
  22. A Final Dream
Lineup:
Jon Oliva - Vocals, Piano, Keyboards, Bass
Paul O'Neill - Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Dave Wittman - Guitar, Bass, Drums
Al Pitrelli - Guitar, Bass
Chris Caffery - Guitar
Todd Reynolds, Paul Reynolds, Paul Woodiel, Mary Rowell, Laura Seaton-Finn,
Denise Stillwell - Violin
Mark Wood, Mark Ferris - Viola
Gary Yellin, Jonas Tauber, Dorothy Lawson - Cello
Robert Kinkel - Piano, Keyboards
Johnny Lee Middleton - Bass
Jeff Plate - Drums
Patti Russo, Jody Ashworth, Guy Lemmonnier, Jamie Torcellini, Sylvia Tosun, Zak
Stevens, Dave Diamond, Doug Thoms - Vocals
Danielle Landherr, Marni Elliot, Sylvia Tosun, Robert Kinkel, Christian James,
Jacob Ashworth, Evan Maltby, Sebastian Perez, Caroline Ross - Background Vocals
Record Label: BMG/Tonpool
     


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Edited 16 September 2021
 

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