In a collection of music that features everything from Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor” (in Gothic Stokowski adaptation) to Gyorgi Ligeti’s “L’Escalier Du Diable” with all the favorites you expect (Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz”) and a lot you don’t (diabolic musical imaginings by Vaughan Williams, for instance, and Johann Strauss, not to mention a “Mephisto Waltz” by Prokofiev). The conceit here is that the devil wrote the disc notes, too. “Music from the Dark Side” indeed.
This is one helluva clever idea: over two hours of selections from Naxos’ vast catalogue, of works ranging from the baroque through contemporary, each having some devilish association. I never thought of Satan while listening to the great d minor Toccata and Fugue, but the fiendishly clever notes (by Lucifer himself) make a convincing argument. This conglomeration could just as easily have been titled a HiFi demonstration disc—like the ones that proliferated in the early days of stereo. One way or another, it’s great fun, though perhaps not just the right kind of background music for a candlelight dinner.