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ABCs of classical listening

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The best way to listen to Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture is not with brandy sifter in hand but rather with your Swiffer floor mop fueled to warp speed by the thundering notes.

Gone are the days of dark drawing rooms and leather chairs for listening to the classics. Not that Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fur Elise doesn’t welcome a roaring fire, but in everyday terms, the languid melody full of soothing notes might be better used during rush-hour traffic.

The mobile iPod brings classical music into the every day, whether studying at the library, walking to work or braving Nesters grocery isles on a Sunday night.

For the aggressive shopper who isn’t afraid to go cart-to-cart, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor will get your motor running. There are plenty of modern renditions of this organ piece to inspire the twists and turns need to navigate a body-strewn aisle. For silent movie lovers, the diabolic trembling of the original organ music from Phantom of the Opera; for Disney fans, the romanticized opening of Fantasia; and for rock and roll tastes, Swollen Members’ Steppin Thru will get you straight to the front of the cashier line.

Steam up your love life by slipping on Maurice Ravel’s sizzling Bolero to seduce a lover out of his or her clothes. Slide in a CD or rent one of two movies featuring renditions of this 19th Century composition. You can’t go wrong with blonde bombshell Bo Derek starring in both: she seduces Dudley Moore in the film 10 and plays a woman who believes a lover’s impotence can be cured by training as a bull fighter in the movie Bolero.

Ravel’s Bolero, which echoes the sharp turns and spins of a Spanish dancer, plays out like a bullfighter teasing a bull with his red cape. The sexual overtones beg to arouse the even most fatigued nine to fiver; the repeated charging and withdrawing ebbs and flows until the melody and counter melody reach a dizzying climax. This love affair grows from quiet to thick and then thunderous – definitively a R (avel)-rated experience.

Wrinkles don’t stand a chance when ironing is accompanied by the string section of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rites of Spring. Enthralled by the brisk melody, collared shirts take less than a few minutes. The lower RPM approach many orchestras take with this 20th Century phenomenon is of no use to your steadily growing laundry basket. Valery Gergiev’s rendition, played by the Kirov Orchestra, reminds listeners why the premiere piece was met with a riot at Paris’s Champs Elysees Theatre in 1913.

War, work out – it’s all the same. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was inspired by Russian liberation from French occupation during the Napoleonic wars. In a weight room, the score of crescendo and diminuendo retreats and attacks, and fuels those nasty bicep curls. Careful not to pull a muscle during the cannonade, but rather fully embrace the victory bell-ringing ending as your Stairmaster flashes 178 calories to burn with only 500 more of your cookie-afternoon-snack cheat to go.

The 2112 Overture by Juno-award-winning and multi-platinum Canadian rockers Rush, pays tribute to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, is also a great sit up motivator.

Classical music motivates moods – joy, doom and gloom or otherwise – so live out the full breadth of the genre rather than stuff it in stereotypical environments. There is a reason why classical music is planted in an elevator – the calm before the shopping storm.

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