Friday, May 8, 2009

Blowin' the dust off

We have a couple of CDs in the collection - one brand new, the other has been with us for a few months - that present an updated interpretation of classical music. Like any cover album, it's hard to say if it can stand up to the original versions.
Revolutionary features Cameron Carpenter on the organ: a digital organ, played within the hallowed confines of Trinity Church in New York City. That should give you a hint about the type of album this is. The liner note photos provide another, as Carpenter exudes more David Bowie than Johannes Bach in his appearance. Don't let that fool you, though. Carpenter is a Juilliard graduate who began performing organ works at the age of 11. The pieces he interprets on this album are all very beautiful, and in the case of the Bach compositions, listening to them performed on an organ in a lovely cathedral seems so fitting. (I will say, however, that the variations on a theme from Bizet's Carmen - track 10 - made me feel like I was at a Chicago Blackhawks game).
Wolfgang's Big Night Out is Brain Setzer's take on classical music. Remember Stray Cat Strut? Take that rocking, big-band sound and apply it to Wagner, Beethoven, Rossini and Mozart. Some of the interpretations are more successful than others, but if you weren't mortally offended by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd doing The Barber of Seville, then you'll probably enjoy this album. My favorite track (of course) is For Lisa, a takeoff of Beethoven's Fur Elise, but all the selections are real toe-tappers. Setzer's guitar playing is great, and his backup orchestra gives the whole album a very well-rounded feel.

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