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Beethoven's Last Night

325 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 11, 2000
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Beethoven's Last Night + The Christmas Attic + The Lost Christmas Eve
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's first two recordings, a pair of late-'90s Christmas albums, hinted that some day TSO might evolve into a latter-day ELO or even an ELP. Instead, this overwrought concept album shares more common ground with ALW (Andrew Lloyd Webber) or Meat Loaf. TSO, in fact, aims to retrace a path once traveled by producer Jim Steinman, the mastermind behind the theatrical, over-the-top rock opuses that briefly transformed Mr. Loaf and Bonnie Tyler ("Total Eclipse of the Heart") into mass-audience favorites. TSO ringmaster Paul O'Neill (once a guitarist in Broadway productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair) here ditches the holiday themes and instead scores a simple-minded fairy tale (whose text spans a 32-page CD booklet) that involves Beethoven's soul, the devil, and an imaginary Symphony No. 10. Too often, the music is the servant of the project's thin plot, and the rock-classical instrumental bravura that initially attracted public attention to TSO (at times, the group sounds like a symphonic Boston) is obscured by overheated vocal rantings. Meanwhile, the guitar-driven rendering of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ("Requiem") is mundane. Yet, one vocal track, "After the Fall" with singer Patti Russo, jumps off the record as a Tyler-esque knockout, raging with emotion and melodic luster. It doesn't save the album, but it helps. --Terry Wood

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 11, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: April 11, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lava
  • ASIN: B00004S7LI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,931 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

212 of 218 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Nite on April 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD
To my great relief, TSO returns to form (and better) with Beethoven's Last Night. Their 1998 release, The Christmas Attic, was enjoyable but a let-down: it seemed like a rehash of their first album instead of a new idea.
But Beethoven's Last Night is something else altogether. Across 22 tracks (73 minutes of music), TSO unfolds the harrowing story of Beethoven's last night on earth, including remembrances of his love and life, deals with the devil, and the saving grace of Fate. Like most of O'Neil's writing for TSO and Savatage, it's a tear-jerker and bound to leave you with a smile on your face.
The songwriting is volcanic, bombastic but widely varied; the pounding heavy metal that introduces Requiem (The Fifth) is interrupted by a ghostly children's choir, creating a goosebump-inducing shock. I got chills up my spine at least five times during the course of the album. The musical asides - little bits of the Moonlight Sonata and countless others by Beethoven and Mozart, polyharmonic choral sections, a children's choir (only very briefly, don't worry) -- make for a rich, multilayered repeat listen.
The vocal performances are stunning in their perfection. Beethoven sings like an operatic baritone, Theresa veers between rock siren and delicate soprano, Mephistopheles sneers and rasps, Twist (Fate's deformed son) mocks and leers, and in the end Fate sings us to sleep with a simple, beautiful lullaby.
Paul O'Neil's songwriting can be uneven -- you wince a bit when he rhymes "dismembered/remembered" and "minute/in it," and intros a song with an 80's-power-ballad drum fill -- but he hits much more often than he misses, and the music and vocals are good enough to gloss over the rough patches.
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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful By "reaven" on November 8, 2000
Format: Audio CD
If you don't end up crying by the end of this album, you have no heart! This CD is simply amazing! I love rock operas and concept albums, whether they be done by Savatage (who are pretty much the same guys that are in Trans-Siberian Orchestra but with one (and sometimes two) singers) Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Queensryche, Iced Earth, or the many other bands who have caught on to the idea. This has got to be The Rock Opera of all rock operas! I don't really feel like taking the time to tell you all what it's about, so I'll just say that it's about Beethoven's Last Night! The band intigrates a lot of Beethoven's music into the album wonderfully, though most of the music is original. Paul O'Neill is an extremely gifted lyricist and his lyrics shine on this album. This album is extremely moving and intelligent (which most music today lacks). There are very slow, emotional songs and some more upbeat ones, but this is a pretty steady album and really needs to be listened to from start to finish without interuptions. Highlights are: Mephistopheles, What Is Eternal, The Moment, The Dreams of Candlelight, Requiem (the Fifth), I'll Keep Your Secrets (my personal favorite on the album), Who Is This Child, and A Final Dream. This album is loaded with emotion, intelligence, and extreme talent. If you're into rock operas, progressive rock, or just thought-provoking music in general, I highly recommend this!
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By B. E. Nickerson on April 13, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This has to be the best of my 350 CDs. This has almost a Broadway-esque sound to it. Yet the rock is not lost in the ballads and instrumentals. "What Is Eternal" "Vienna" and the other 20 tracks are among the best on the album. DO NOT PASS THIS ALBUM UP, YOU WILL NOT BE DISSAPPOINTED. Jody Ashworth & Patti Russo (former Meat-Loaf vocalist) deserve 110% for their superior divine performances as Beethoven & Theresa on this album. Also, Jon Oliva portrays the devil (how fitting) and Guy Lemonnier plays a Young Beethoven. This album cobines the classical, unloosable genius of Beethoven & Mozart and the rough rock edge of the TSO. I take my hat off and lay in mud for Paul O'Neill & Robert Kinkell, who wrote all of the songs for this album. The music is unbelievable, the lyrics are powerful and emotional and the story is realistic enough to possibly be true. The TSO is definately the most gifted band ever to walk the face of the earth. sory Metallica, Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, but you've met your match. This album will remain a classic, I guarantee it.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Zev Bazarov on September 8, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is a rock opera concept album. They use electric and acoustic guitars, violins, keyboards, and other classical instruments. Most of the songs are rock versions of Beethoven's work, or variations of them. All in all the music is well played, and recorded good. The actors voices are well sung with emotion. The story of this album is that Beethoven is feeling it is his time to pass on, right after he has completed his 10th Symphony. At that time the Devil comes and tells Beethoven he is to spend death in Hell for eternity, but he can change that if he gives all of his music to the Devil. Beethoven is then guided throughout his life, by Fate, to change whatever he wants so that he will not be damned to hell, and not have to give over his music. He sees both good and bad times, and how that has made him who he is. He sees that he should change nothing, because he would never have had the inspiration to create such great music. This is the message that throughout our lives, we are made of both the bad and the good, and that we would never be who we are now, unless we had the bad. It is up to us to choose if we will use the bad as an inspiration to bring joy and wondrous creations as Beethoven chose to do. At the end Beethoven and his Fate play a trick on the Devil, and he is able to pass on to bliss. The story is a fun one, and sends a positive message. Guitar work isn't too technical, but its interesting to hear Beethoven in rock. If your a fan of progressive rock, concept albums, or Beethoven, I would suggest you check this out, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. 4 stars.
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