Top positive review
78 people found this helpful
Electrifying blend of classical and modern
on July 28, 2009
Wunderkind David Garrett grew up in Aachen, Germany and studied violin under Ida Haendel and Itzhak Perlman before graduating from Juilliard in 2004. As a child prodigy, he was subjected to a grueling rehearsal schedule of classical repertoire (he injured his back and shoulders recording Paganini: Caprices as a teen), but the freedom of NYC (including the huge music library at Juilliard and various clubs) opened up a new world of musical possibilities. David supplemented his income by modeling for print magazines like Vogue and Fashion Week for Armani while at Juilliard; his striking looks and broad crossover appeal have earned him the nickname "the David Beckham of classical music." Garrett's response? "He kind of drew a new audience to football, OK mostly female, but that's not a bad thing. I think that's why people actually say that because they know I really try very hard to get new audiences for classical music."
I first heard of David Garrett in a Barnes and Noble and was hooked. After watching numerous clips and interviews (both German and English) on YouTube, I was blown away by his utter confidence and poise. You can see at once that this is someone who truly loves music and his instrument (he plays both a 1717 Stradivarius and a 1772 Guadagnini, which he badly damaged after falling on it); just like growing up bilingually with a German father and American mother, he's equally at home as ambassador of classical and pop.
"David Garrett" is actually David's fourth solo album for Decca after Free, Virtuoso, and Encore, and most of the tracks are pulled from these three albums (I would have liked to see the inclusion of "Claire de Lune" from Encore). The themes run the gamut from Baroque (Vivaldi's "Summer" from the Four Seasons, Bach's "Air") to Romantic (Bizet's "Carmen Fantasie"), a dash of Italian Gypsy, modern rock (Metallica, Queen, AC/DC, Michael Jackson), film scores (Zorba the Greek, Pirates of the Caribbean), and original works ("Chelsea Girl," "Rock Prelude"). The album opens with a high-octane rendition of Vivaldi that might bring to mind Vanessa-Mae or perhaps the eccentric Nigel Kennedy, but David makes this all his own, and at breakneck speed.
My favorites are the uptempo tracks, particularly the "He's a Pirate" theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. This Hans Zimmer gem is a cross between sweeping score reminiscent of the Chieftains' score for TNT's "Treasure Island" with the stately delicacy of a bourrée. The xylophone echoes the violin, accented by triangle and harp. The intense "Smooth Criminal" opens with tympani mimicking a heartbeat...chilling and effective. David's aggressive bowing in the first part slides into a near-human wail as he duets with the electric guitar, then returns to the staccato melody. Queen and AC/DC are given similarly effective treatment. Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" also translates well to the violin medium, buoyed by the assertive piano bassline. I loved the rollicking "Zorba's Dance" but was a little underwhelmed by "Dueling Strings" (I just can't distance the song from Deliverance (Deluxe Edition)).
Overall, this is a fun, flashy album that showcases David's immense technical talent and will hopefully attract younger listeners to classical repertoire. Purists will likely not be impressed, but for casual listeners, this is a catchy album that does justice to familiar tunes (hey, if it gets today's youth interested in Bach and Vivaldi, that's a good thing). Be sure to check out David's charismatic live performance of these songs on David Garrett: Live In Berlin.