Banks: SIX Pieces for Orchestra
Paul Englishby, Martin Robertson, Charlie Siem & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
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||SIX Pieces for Orchestra: No. 1. Siren||Paul Englishby, Martin Robertson & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra||8:49||$0.99||View in iTunes|
||SIX Pieces for Orchestra: No. 2. Still Waters||Paul Englishby & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra||6:41||$0.99||View in iTunes|
||SIX Pieces for Orchestra: No. 3. Blade||Paul Englishby, Charlie Siem & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra||10:20||Album Only||View in iTunes|
||SIX Pieces for Orchestra: No. 4. Wild Pilgrimage||The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Paul Englishby||8:14||$0.99||View in iTunes|
||SIX Pieces for Orchestra: No. 5. The Oracle||Paul Englishby & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra||5:16||$0.99||View in iTunes|
||SIX Pieces for Orchestra: No. 6. City of Gold||Paul Englishby & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra||12:05||Album Only||View in iTunes|
Cinematic in scope
Familiarity with Tony Banks as a founding member and keyboardist for Genesis, while illuminating, isn't the whole story to his new release, Six Pieces for Orchestra. As with other musicians of his era who have made the transition to orchestral scoring, Banks shows an altogether unfamiliar side in these compositions. His second release, preceded by the successful Seven, takes us on a sonic tour of ideas unexplored in his more familiar art rock/prog/pop world, evoking strong imagery all along the way.
From the opening, I glanced up at my TV to ensure I wasn't actually dialed into a movie I'd left in the Blu-Ray player. A quick check of inputs showed I was indeed dialed into my CD player. Such is the sweeping cinematic feel of this disc. In part, this would owe to the orchestration work of Paul Englishby, who translated these works from the original piano compositions. An accomplished composer and orchestrator himself, Englishby utilizes a broad palette in realizing Banks' works in concert with the City of Prague Philharmonic. Any expectation of Banks' complex but familiar modalities should be suspended, as these works are rooted in an altogether different yet equally well thought set of ideas.
Liner notes have Banks describing the pieces a "seductress, journey, hero, quest, decision and goal". Subsequent listening sessions after reading the notes were illuminated by these themes, but they are by no means necessary to evoke visual imaginings of the music - these are present throughout.
The two pieces featuring soloists Charlie Siem on violin and Martin Robertson on alto saxophone are interesting in maintaining the broad orchestral appeal while serving the soloist. In service to both soloists, the shorter length of each work allows a balance of melody and accompaniment throughout that would ebb and flow far more in longer pieces.
For those fans of film composers, from the contemporary such as Danny Elfman, to the more classic works of Maurice Jarre, Tony Banks Six would be a surprising adventure. Those those who come to these works by other means, they are nonetheless compelling musical vignettes.
No. 3 is my favorite. Charlie Siem's playing is simply beautiful. This music sounds like it could be a film score. It's big and sweeping and wonderful. Definitely recommend.
Charlie Siem is amazing as usual!