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Banks: Six Pieces for Orchestra

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Audio CD, April 24, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tony Banks, founder member of rock band Genesis, has already written a much admired orchestral work called Seven (8557466), which was praised for its genuine melodic gift. (Gramophone). His new work consists of six songs without words which may evoke in the listener ideas of seduction, journey, hero, quest, decision and goal. Two of the pieces feature solo instruments - alto saxophone on Siren and violin on Blade - played here by elite soloists, which mesh into Banks's orchestral tapestry with bewitching effect. The remaining pieces reveal his outstanding lyrical gifts and total command of musical narrative.

Throughout 2009 Charlie Siem's reputation as one of the brightest new classical artists grew with prestigious concerts in Paris, London, Oslo, Bergen and Basel. He has since enjoyed a very successful career, appearing with major orchestras and at festivals around the world. Martin Robertson began his solo career in 1986, and has since performed as a soloist with the Berlin, Los Angeles and London Philharmonic Orchestras, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Intercontemporain.


Tony Banks is best known as one of the founders of Genesis, and he was
responsible for writing most of the band's material. He developed a
career in film scoring beginning in the 1970's, and after the turn of
the century he also turned his attention to writing purely orchestral
music. Six Pieces for Orchestra, released in 2012, is his second
orchestral album, the first being Seven: A Suite for Orchestra, from
2004. Here Banks is joined by composer and conductor Paul Englishby,
who contributed to the pieces' development and orchestrated them.
Banks' evocatively-titled works are melodic and warmly Neo-Romantic,
with a broad, cinematic sweep. Violinist Charlie Siem and alto sax
player Martin Robertson each have a track on which they're featured
soloists. Englishby conducts the City of Prague Philharmonic on this
Naxos release. --AllMusic, Stephen Eddins

Over the 40+ year career of the band Genesis, members of the British progressive rock group have crossed over into other endeavors with great success. Former singer Peter Gabriel is a rock icon, who does much to popularize world music. Phil Collins plays big-band jazz and, (like Mr. Gabriel) enjoyed a chart-topping solo career. Recently, keyboardist Tony Banks, a life-long (and founding) member of the group, has successfully launched his career as a composer of classical music.

'In Genesis, in the early days we played with form a lot more,' he says in a telephone interview with Superconductor. 'In the later years we were writing more conventionally in terms of how the songs were structured.'

Mr. Banks has a new CD out. Six Pieces for Orchestra is his second venture into the classical stratosphere, a collection of orchestral instrumentals and 'songs without words.' He adds, 'I wanted to throw all structure out the window.', Paul Pelkonen
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Product Details

  • Performer: Charlie Siem, Martin Robertson
  • Orchestra: The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Paul Englishby
  • Composer: Tony Banks
  • Audio CD (April 24, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0071K5KWU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,744 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel R. Coombs on May 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Tony Banks is known to many listeners as one of the founding members of the major '80s rock group Genesis. Like many talented rockers, Banks has turned his focus to different genres of music making in their post-touring world. Many performers have turned to forms of classical composition and film scoring Some of the best known and most successful examples include Paul McCartney, Danny Elfman and fellow Genesis genius Peter Gabriel. I have not heard Banks' first Naxos orchestral release "Seven" but I have certainly read good things about it The present release focuses on Banks' desire to write short, attractive concert pieces that may even include solo instruments. I think this collection succeeds on all accounts! The opening work, "Siren" is scored for solo saxophone and orchestra. Soloist Martin Robertson is a tremendous player and has an international reputation for orchestral saxophone playing. This is a bouyant and fun piece to listener to. "Still Waters" is a very cinematic sounding work with sweeping string writing and some nice solo lines for the horns. "Blade" is a very exciting, driving work with a wonderful solo violin part performed by the excellent Charlie Siem. This work has a bit of Celtic feel and I truly admire the chattering, propulsive backdrop to the soaring solo line. This was probably my favorite work of the "Six". Truthfully, every piece here is very entertaining. "Wild Pilgrimage" is a calmer work that does, indeed, have a "searching" quality to the melody and with beautiful string writing again. "The Oracle" is a deeply fervent; almost religious sounding work with some very soulful wind lines. "City of Gold" is the longest work in this collection and it feels a bit like a small scale tone poem with some exotic elements.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry on December 13, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It has been over eight years since Tony Banks released his first all-orchestral album "Seven", which (as I mentioned in my review at the time) managed to be a successful instance of an artist crossing over into the classical genre in spite of the general tendency for these ventures to have dubious results. I enjoyed "Seven" thoroughly, and I was curious and hopeful to hear more. Banks has dedicated the last several years of his solo career solely to orchestral music, and his compositional style, even in other areas, always seemed to evoke orchestral composition as a result of its inherent complexity.

Thankfully, Tony Banks has returned this year with "Six Pieces for Orchestra", which, as the title suggests, has one less composition than its predecessor. Banks joked recently that if he hangs around long enough he might just make it to Zero. Jocularity aside, "Six" happens to be even more musically adventurous than its predecessor. Banks' compositional style outside of classical often involves unique chords and complex arrangements. With "Seven," when he applied these complexities, he noted that often the results, while pleasing, were more straightforward than he had expected. As a result, with "Six", he decided that he could take the orchestra even further compositionally, which results in a more adventurous result on every track. The orchestra turns out to be the perfect palette for Banks, and the end performance on this album is directly from his composition and not the expansive musings of an orchestrator vigorously extrapolating a simple melody (which is unfortunately a frequent occurrence for many crossovers into the classical genre).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Haag on August 18, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In my 2004 Amazon review of Tony Banks' debut classical work, "Seven," I wrote it marked "a new beginning for a very overlooked songwriter and composer." Thankfully, "Seven" was indeed this new beginning I was hoping for, and the subsequent result is what I was looking for and then some. With "Six," Banks now takes us deeper into the realm of classical music, augmenting his writing for orchestra with two stellar pieces of music for soloists. This work again proves Banks is hardly in retirement with his great writing talent; as usual, he rewards listeners with a wide palate of tone color and imagination.

The album opens with the most melodic and interesting work of the six. In "Siren," Banks employs saxophonist Martin Robertson (who has actually recorded sax on some of Banks' solo albums) to handle soloist duties. Robertson's solo playing is very well paced and nicely compliments the orchestra. I call it the most interesting work because it seems alto sax (or indeed any sax) is largely overlooked in classical music. It was nice to hear it front and center in this work.

The other work for soloist on the album is "Blade," featuring violinist Charlie Siems. While this up-and-coming musician is largely known to British audiences, Siems playing on this work is very impressive indeed, and should be a fine introduction to an American audience. The crashing chord at the beginning of this work certainly catches your attention, anticipating greater things to come, and Siems does not disappoint. Banks notes in his liner notes "Blade" could have worked as a rock song. While there are hints of that flavor present, the piece still holds up nicely as classical fare.
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