The ballet “Daphnis and Chloe”, music by Ravel. It contains the “Danse guerriere”, the war dance of the pirates, at the beginning of the second part. Very effective. There is a bacchanal (“Danse generale”) at the end of the ballet, an incredible piece of music.
The ballet music was written to include a wordless chorus (they sing ah, ooh, and sometimes hum). However, it is sometimes recorded without a chorus. Make sure you get a recording with a chorus. There are many good recordings of the complete ballet. One nice LP performance reissued on CD is “Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe Complete / Munch, Boston Symphony 1993-08-10 / RCA Victor Living Stereo - 61846”.
There are also many recordings of two suites which contain excerpts from the ballet. Suite #1 ends with the “Danse guerriere” and suite #2 ends with the bacchanal. You may want to check these recordings out. And again: get a recording with a chorus.
“A Symphony of Psalms” by Stravinsky has some sections you might be interested in.
“A German Requiem” by Brahms. Lots of funereal music. Section 2, “Behold, all flesh is as the grass” is a slow funeral march. Section 6 also contains a short apocalyptic section (“For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised”).
IIRC, the opening music from “The Lion in Winter” may fit your bill. It sounds medievalish, oppressive and classical, but it was composed for the film.
How about the first part (“Veni, Creator Spiritus”) of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E Flat? I don’t know of any other symphonic work that smacks you in the balls with full fortissimo mixed choruses and full orchestra on the first note like that baby does.
In case you’re curious, here are the text and translation for Carmina Burana. After seeing what the English words are, it’s kind of amusing that the O Fortuna gets used so often in horror and suspense movies.
I need to check out Ike’s recommendations.
And I would have had some great suggestions too, if it weren’t for these meddling posters!
Wait, I have one – Ps. 2, vs. 1-4 from the second movement of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms:
Here’s another. The soundtrack to Alexander Nevsky, by Sergei Prokofiev. Both Arise, People of Russia and the Battle on the Ice are absolutely gripping. No one’s better at choral oppression than the Russians.
Um, not to state the obvious or anything,…Oh, what the hell. To bloody well state the obvious, why not use Carmina Burana?
This reminds me of the problem Douglas Adams and company were having trying to cast the voice of “the book” when they were preparing to do the Hitchhiker’s Guide at the BBC. They had a long discussion about finding someone “Peter Jonesy”. They discussed all these actors that would sound like Peter Jones for the narration, until a secretary asked them exasperatedly why they just didn’t get Peter Jones. It was so obvious that they had all missed it.
I am paraphrasing from the Neil Gaiman book, “Don’t Panic. The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion.”
Good observation, but I can sum up in two words: Over. Used.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a GREAT piece and I personally love to perform it! Unfortunately, I’ve seen it used in a car commercial, a life insurance commercial, a beer commercial, a local cable-access infomercial, several movies, a medieval-themed jousting dinner show, and likely dozens more where places where I’ve heard the opening chord and thought, “Oh Chiesu, not “O Fortuna” AGAIN! Can’t somebody be a little creative?” It seems like every time the media needs a dark, foreboding, powerful piece, they drag out “Carmina Burana” like it’s never been done before.
Hate to be a 'metooer", but I agree with Maeglin: there are several pieces here that certainly fit the “oppressive” choral genre.
And Maeglin: loved the Russian-oppression comment!
yea yea yea…I know, I should be shot for saying this, but the Orchestrated (or however you spell it) version of the Final Fantasy VII game. actually, dragon, you burned it for me. That is the best “overpowering” song I know of, and I love it.
Most inappropriate use of O Fortuna in history: at a student demonstration I went to.
Oooh, let’s see. We’re fighting for our rights, trying to bring a government around to the democratically expressed will of the people, and we’re playing a song that talks about how Fortune is inevitable and ineluctible in her screwing people over.