7 Songs, 57 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5

7 Ratings

7 Ratings

Tony Banks, where art thou?


Interesting that iTunes doesn't mention this work's creator, Tony Banks, except on the artwork. As only a casual listener of orchestral instrumental music, to me this album is a pleasant, pastoral work. It does bear more resemblance to orchestral movie soundtracks moreso than the few dedicated orchestral works with which I am familiar.

Occasionally I hear faint hallmarks of Tony's melodies and phrasing, but if this had been played without my knowing it, I doubt I would have recognized it as his. As a long time fan of his keyboard playing and songwriting with Genesis, and familiar with his solo work, this to me is an interesting departure, certainly seeming to fulfill a creative urge for Tony.

An outstanding suite that is imbued with Tony Banks.


If my title is awkward, that's just because I wanted -- respectfully but emphatically -- to disagree with the the previous reviewer. "Seven" bears the signature of Tony Banks in its romantic (yet always with that English sense of reserve and understatement) shadings of strings and woodwinds, in its audacious but sure-footed deployment of pedal tones, and in the sweeping cadences, in which expansive four-note chords collide and become enmeshed with one another.

If all of that sounds too technical (or pretentious), let me put it this way: the suite is wonderfully melancholic, at times serene, and at times, that Afterglow-esque mixture of yearning and mournful. I have come to surmise that among Tony Banks's many significant contributions to the music of Genesis is a kind of grim, stoic response to the inadequacies and limitations of the "real" world. I believe that this is what people mean when they say that his music has a "romantic" quality.

This is not to say that Banks's work is "escapist." A better characterization would be that it evokes the artist's strength of will and confidence of personal vision. My favorite is "Black Down": lush and powerful.

What you can hear Banks's work with Genesis as well as in "Seven" is a refusal to pander to the demand that the world places on an artist to create something mediocre, whether the demand comes from idiot critics who don't listen carefully and are merely interested in identifiable "genre" labels or from the clamor for music that fits a cookie-cutter formula. In other words: Tony has never lost his sense of taste. It has only matured over time, and "Seven" demonstrates the taste of a wise yet dynamic composer.

The success of Genesis in the 80s coincided with a more "pop" sound, but many fans (or students...) of the band know that the designation "pop" belies the craftsmanship, emotionality and inner-complexity (not a show-offy complexity!) that was truely without parallel among their chart-topping peers. Much of this quality is a result of Tony Banks's indefatigable refusal to produce cliches. (I mean, even the band's ostensibly "poppyist" stuff, like "Illegal Alien" is filled to the brim with amazing ideas, colors, rhythms, tones, hooks, key changes surprises.)

Anyway, I would encourage most anyone to purchase this album, and I would do so with even greater confidence to anyone who loves anything about Genesis, including ANY of its various different line-ups. There's something for you here. It might take a couple of listens, but it's well worth it. Tony Banks is a musical genius who first-and-foremost has great taste.

My favorite movement is definitely "Black Down." Lush, dark and powerful.

About London Philharmonic Orchestra

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the central institutions of the busy London concert scene, has long been recognized as one of the world's great ensembles, an assertion borne out by continued acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

When the venerable Royal Philharmonic Society faced a financial crisis in the late 1920s, Sir Thomas Beecham proposed a plan to form a permanent orchestra for the first time in the Society's 115-year history. It was proposed that the ensemble, to be called the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, would serve as the orchestra for both the BBC and the Royal Philharmonic Society. The scheme collapsed, however, when the BBC independently elected to form an orchestra of its own.

In 1932 Beecham received the Society's commitment and patronage and at last founded a permanent orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to serving as the Society's official ensemble, the Philharmonic performed in other engagements as well, including Beecham's own series of concerts, the Courtauld-Sargent concerts, and, in summer, a Covent Garden opera series. Under Beecham's guidance the Philharmonic rapidly attained a high level of excellence and dominated the concert scene in London until World War II.

At the outbreak of the war, Beecham departed England for the United States, leaving the Philharmonic to fend for itself. Instead of dissolving the leaderless organization, the Philharmonic's members reconstituted the ensemble as co-op and chose their own management board. When the BBC evacuated the BBC Symphony Orchestra from London during the German bombings of 1940 - 41, the Philharmonic remained, taking over the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts at Queen's Hall and maintaining without interruption the Philharmonic Society's own yearly slate of eight concerts. In 1941 Queen's Hall was destroyed by bombs, leaving the immense Royal Albert Hall as London's only concert venue; consequently, both the Proms and the Philharmonic Society concerts were transferred there. The Philharmonic continued to be the official orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society Concerts until 1945. Beginning in that season, the Society changed its arrangement: The Philharmonic gave only three of the eight annual concerts a year, while the remaining five were divided among the BBC Orchestra, the London Symphony, the Hallé Orchestra, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

From the time of Beecham's departure, the Philharmonic demurred in naming a music director, engaging a string of guest conductors until the appointment of Eduard van Beinum as Principal Conductor in 1949. The withdrawal of the Philharmonic's government grant in 1951created grave financial difficulties that threated the ensemble's very existence; unable to pay its players on the basis of a year-round contract, the Philharmonic in 1957 resorted to booking and renumerating its players on a by-the-concert basis.

From this lowlight the Philharmonic's standards and financial situation slowly improved through the 1960s and 1970s, aided by the leadership and acumen of such distinguished figures as Adrian Boult, William Steinberg, John Pritchard, and Georg Solti. Among the more auspicious moments in the Philharmonic's history are its 1973 tour to China, the first ever by a Western orchestra, and its performances in South Africa in 1993 as the first orchestra to visit the country since the abolition of apartheid. In its recent history, the ensemble has performed under the leadership of Bernard Haitink, Franz Welser-Möst, and Kurt Masur. In 1990 the Philharmonic was named the official resident orchestra of the Royal Festival Hall. Since 1964 it has also served as the resident orchestra for the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. ~ Joseph Stevenson

London, England
October 7, 1932




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