Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Beethoven's Last Night

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Beethoven's Last Night ©2000 Atlantic
1. Overture
2. Midnight
3. Fate
4. What Good This Deafness
5. Mephistopheles
6. What Is Eternal
7. The Moment
8. Vienna
9. Mozart / Figaro
10. The Dreams Of Candlelight
11. Requiem (The Fifth)
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

Boasting a large cast, Trans-Siberian Orchestra is not so much a heavy metal band as they are a Broadway musical with heavy metal overtones. They are comprised of several members of Savatage, namely: Jon Olivia, who is prominent in the song writing work as well as playing and singing; John Middleton (bass); Chris Caffery (guitars); and Jeff Plate (drums). Other band members include former Asia and Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the brainchild of noted rock producer and song writer, Paul O’Neill. Their discography includes two releases of Chistmas music, Christmas Eve And Other Stories, and The Christmas Attic. Both of the Christmas albums are concept works based loosely around a story that makes for a grand live performance.

Beethoven’s Last Night has a more involved story than the two Christmas CDs. The full story is available on the web site, so I am not really giving anything away by discussing it here. It is the last night of Beethoven’s life. "Mephistopheles" (brilliantly played by Jon Olivia) approaches him with the age old offer that is too good to refuse, and the drama begins. Fate has a hand in things as well as does Theresa, the legendary “immortal beloved,” the great love of Beethoven’s life. In the end, there is a surprise and a twist that cheat Mephistopheles of his amusement. There is introspection and anguish, surprise and joy all mixed into a very good story. Trans-Siberian Orchestra tends to approach an album from the point of view that the story is of greatest importance. The songs are used to convey the story, rather than the story being used to try and join the songs together. This is why Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s albums shine where other concept albums don’t. The research that has gone into the writing of this story is very much evident from the content.

The players all excel on this album. Theresa is played by Patti Russo with a powerful singing voice that will really surprise you. She really belts out her parts without losing any of the emotion of the songs. Jon Olivia shines as Mephistopheles, bringing an evil overtone to his singing that makes you believe he is from the Devil. Beethoven is played by Jody Ashworth who truly carries the drama the part well. The CD is vocally rich with over twenty five singers including the choirs. Musically, the CD is rich with variety. Anyone familiar with the works of Beethoven will be treated to music that is at once familiar and intriguing. Bits of Mozart are interspersed and woven into a rich tapestry of sound that will please most any listener. "Requiem (The Fifth)" thunders with power. "A Last Illusion" includes an adaptation of "Flight Of The Bumblebee" played on an electric guitar that must have blistered the guitarists fingers it is played so fast. This is interwoven with the "Ode To Joy" from the Pastorale Symphony and backed by a chorus that makes it one of the standout tracks on the disc. "I’ll Keep Your Secrets" is a great power ballad sung by Theresa and played masterfully by the band. I don’t care what genre of heavy metal is your personal preference, this CD belongs in your collection. I’ve said in other reviews that classical music is powerful and rich with passion. Nowhere is that brought out more sharply than with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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