14 Songs, 45 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
20 Ratings
20 Ratings
Fred from CA. ,

A Powerful "New" Voice for the 21st Century

With a career spanning over 30 years, and over 20 original albums in his portolio, composer/performer Mike Oldfield has now released his first classical album. This unexpected move by Oldfield and his recording company has proven quite successful: "Music of the Spheres" debuted at the number one slot in the U.K. classical charts, and deservedly so. Make no mistake: MotS is bold, fresh music, by turns unabashedly romantic and passionately vigorous. This is music for a different age.

Mike Oldfield's music straddles several styles, so here are offered thoughts for a few different audiences.

*For classical music listeners: "Music of the Spheres" should be considered "light classical music ," even filmic music. Think of the stirring soundtracks of Korngold, and the bright melodies and rich orchestration of Saint-Saëns. Yet MotS is clearly a 21st century composition - like Glass, Oldfield has here married minimalism with romanticism. In his biography "Changeling," Oldfield cites influences as diverse as Bach, Sibelius, and Terry Riley. A careful listen to MotS will reveal how effortlessly these influences have been blended.

Oldfield enlists the undeniable vocal talents of Ms. Haley Westenra for two pieces. Pianist Lang Land is also featured, though too little is heard from him (listen to the closing few minutes of the track "Animus"). Multi-instrumentalist Oldfield performs as well, here limiting himself to classical guitar. Karl Jenkin's orchestration is lush (if occasionally leaning to the bombastic), and the musical recording and production is world-class.

* For progressive rock listeners who remember the release of Oldfield's "Tubular Bells:" after the stunning, out-of-left-field success of Oldfield's first composition, he continued on through the 70's with a succession of original, complex, even demanding instrumental albums. Though tagged "progressive rock," Oldfield's music was sui generis, a fact which doubtlessly contributed to his increasing obscurity in the United States (though not overseas). (To drive home the point: note that the iTunes staff have labeled one version of MotS as "classical" and the other version the same music as "pop".) Throughout the 80's and 90's Oldfield moved through a variety of music styles, including pop, dance, and chillout. MotS, then, represents a return to form, with a new musical maturity expressed through the power of the orchestra. If you liked Tubular Bells, you'll very much like MotS.

* For Mike Oldfield fans: Yes, MotS quotes from Tubular Bells, using a few of its familiar themes as leitmotifs - a technique common to classical composition, though not to rock music. MotS also looks back on many other Oldfield works – the track "Aurora" for one example, summons the spirit of the fanfare from side 3 of "Incantations." Other listeners have heard echoes of "Ommadawn" and "Amarok." For the fan, MotS is journey through Oldfield's best, harmonized into...the music of the spheres.

A note on the two iTunes versions of this album: MotS premiered in March 08 at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. One of the two versions of MotS available on iTunes includes the live recordings taken from this performance.

A classical album from Mike Oldfield? On reflection, it was inevitable. After all, that tubular bell found 35 years ago in Branson's studio *came* from an orchestra.

Ray in Taos ,

Hold up there folks....

I have the shrink wrapped CD here at my desk from Amazon & it's the same deal that iTunes is selling. Here's the deal - DON'T YELL AT iTUNES! They don't make licensing rules. The label/distribution company makes those deals. Let the UK labels & their US counterparts know that you want the special releases.

You can also go to anyone who'll sells "import" music. You might be able to get from Amazon UK, but you will pay their rates that they are licensed for in their zone.

Ok, it's a GREAT work from Mike Oldfield! He & his work are fantastic. Enjoy the tunes & don't be mad at iTunes.

wingnutt2k6 ,

WOW! Mike re-invents himself, again!

I first heard an advanced copy of this back in Nov. I wasn't impressed, I thought "what!? another Tubular Bells remake?!" but it isn't... True that Harbinger uses that theme and ends with Musica Universails but that's where the 2 end. It's anoutstanding CD and from what I've read it's hit #1 in the UK classical charts the first week out. This is an album that grows on you, crank it up with the headphones, you won't be disappointed.

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