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Rock Symphonies

4.6 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 20, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

David Garrett is a rock 'n' roll concert violinist! If that sounds like an oxymoron, you'll be surprised by his powerfully fierce take on classic rock anthems when played by he and a symphony orchestra! This ain't long-haired music in a Leonard Bernstein way; it's long-haired music in a mullets and beer bongs kind of way. Listen for yourself on CD or be dazzled by the imagery, too, with the DVD!

About the Artist

David Garrett - the best-selling new classical artist of 2009 - brings listeners along on a roller coaster ride of genres colliding on his sophomore album, Rock Symphonies. Rock Symphonies displays Garrett's love of both classical and rock, marrying the two genres with a fierce intensity. Featuring new interpretations of his favorite rock anthems by U2, Nirvana, Metallica and Aerosmith to name a few, David's virtuosic violin playing shines through with precision and power, backed by his band and The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. With his new Public Television concert special slated for an August broadcast, David Garrett is poised to be the breakout star of the summer. Rock Symphonies will be released in the U.S. on Decca July 20th.

The evolution of Rock Symphonies was a natural one for the 28-year-old Garrett. Having spent 2009 on tour in all corners of the world, he would find himself performing in clubs to arenas with a live rock band one night, followed by a classical concert hall with full symphony orchestra the next. Having a dual career is a rarity, and doing it successfully even more so. The bold violinist has always been a fan of both the classical and rock worlds he straddles. "I always enjoyed when rock groups integrated orchestra into in their sound, and it elevated the music to another level," comments Garrett. He continues, "any musician loves having the full sound of an orchestra behind them - it's an amazing experience."

Rock Symphonies main recording sessions took place at New York City's famed Electric Lady Studios, with the orchestra recorded in Prague. Highlights of the album include "Vivaldi Vs. Vertigo," a mashup of Vivaldi and U2's Vertigo, Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Led Zeppelin's timeless "Kashmir," and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," featuring a guest performance by Aussie guitar sensation Orianthi (seen in Michael Jackson's "This Is It"). Orianthi also joined Garrett on stage in Germany recently for his new Public Television concert special, "Rock Symphonies," to air on PBS throughout August on stations across the country.

David Garrett has been winning over audiences since the release of his self-titled debut album in June 2009. His numerous appearances have included performances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Today Show, Fox News Channel, CBS Saturday Early Show and his first PBS smash, "Live In Berlin." His technically jaw-dropping performance of "Flight of the Bumblebee," was recorded in the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-ever performance of the piece (a blistering 66 seconds), wowing crowds the world over. In addition to being the best-selling new classical artist of 2009, he was also Billboard's #9 highest-charting new artist overall, across all genres. His CD David Garrett, debuted at #1 on Billboard's Classical Crossover Chart, and held the #1 position for nine weeks, remaining in the Top 10 for over 40 subsequent weeks .

David Garrett began playing violin at age four, and was signed to the prestigious classical music label Deutsche Grammophon by thirteen. Without telling his parents, he later fled Germany for New York, where he was accepted at the world famous Juilliard music school, studying under the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. As a way to pay the bills, he moonlit as a busboy and model, landing him in the pages of Vogue and the Fashion Week catwalks for Armani. He subsequently has gained international stardom, with gold and platinum selling discs internationally, and chart-topping albums in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Far East and a Top 20 UK hit. His charisma, passion and dedication to the violin defy categorization

He's a star everywhere from the catwalk to the Billboard charts, but violinist David Garrett is ready to conquer new terrain with his groundbreaking Rock Symphonies album, available on Decca July 20th, just in time for his newest PBS special.

This international superstar has quickly amassed a huge and devoted audience--especially of a much younger fanbase than the listeners usually associated with classical music. His fresh, vibrant take on classical music has shot new life into this genre. He has gained international stardom, with chart-topping albums and gold and platinum selling discs across Europe, in the UK and the Far East.

The super-powered David has experienced huge success with American audiences as well. Not only was he Billboard's best-selling new classical music artist of 2009, but was the # 9 overall New Artist across all genres. His debut album for Decca, David Garrett, debuted at No. 1 on the Classical Crossover chart, and maintained its presence there for 31 solid weeks. In addition, David has been featured on Oprah, Fox & Friends, E! News, the Today Show, CBS Saturday Morning, CNN, and Good Morning America as well as NPR's "All Things Considered."

David's first music special for PBS, "Live in Berlin," was an enormous hit as well, and was broadcast during March, June, August, September, and December pledge drives. Following on the heels of his hit PBS special, David toured the U.S. extensively with sold-out dates nationwide.

Rock Symphonies brings together two of this German-born violinist's two great loves: classical music and the rock music of his generation.

"For many years, I've wanted to bring classical music to a younger audience," confides David, who was soloing with the greatest orchestras in the world by the time he was ten years old. "And I've seen fantastic results--I have a wonderful young audience enjoying Beethoven, Bach and Brahms, so that's a dream come true for me." It's a vision that he has worked towards all his life from his pre-adolescent performances with the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Russian National Orchestra to his concerts with legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin by age 12.

When he was thirteen years old, David signed a contract as a solo artist with one of the world's greatest classical record labels, Deutsche Grammophon. "I probably have spent more hours in my life playing violin than sleeping," the violinist, who began playing at age four, laughs. He still maintains an active classical career, playing concertos with traditional symphony orchestras.

But rock music has always been a real passion for David as well--and his concerto nights are interspersed with arena and club shows internationally with his own band. Rock Symphonies, recorded with the City of Prague Orchestra, is a love letter to his favorite bands, like Nirvana ("Smells Like Teen Spirit"), Guns N' Roses ("November Rain" as well as their cover of Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die"), Aerosmith ("Walk This Way"), U2 ("Vertigo"), Metallica ("Master of Puppets"), and Led Zeppelin ("Kashmir"). "I'm very big fan of 80s rock, of power ballads and that kind of stuff," David says. "And I think adding an orchestra elevates rock to a whole different level." The project is made all the more special by the appearance of the blistering, young Australian guitarist-singer Orianthi on "Walk This Way" who has previously worked with Carlos Santana, Carrie Underwood and Michael Jackson (where she performs on the international smash film "This Is It"). This summer Orianthi is on tour opening for Adam Lambert and also appears on the "Rock Symphonies" PBS special.

For David Garrett, whose idols go from Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page to his former teachers Itzhak Perlman and Ida Haendel, there shouldn't be any hierarchy between genres. "Choosing repertoire is very instinctive," David observes. "For this project, it was quite easy. We had a theme--rock--and we chose things with a very strong rhythmical vibe, whether it was Beethoven or Metallica. The concept of "Rock Symphonies" has been on my mind for a very long time. I've always thought that there was a very strong connection between classical and rock; there's a very strong sense of rhythm and a very strong sense of precision in both."

Certain tracks, like "Kashmir" and "Walk This Way," are absolute naturals for Rock Symphonies (as David notes, Aerosmith already paved the way for genre crossing with their now-classic collaboration with Run-DMC). But some choices are more surprising, like an innovative mashup of U2's "Vertigo" with Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and a revisiting of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which of course experienced life as a disco favorite in the late 1970s--here, it's recreated as a hard-rock headbanger's special. "Beethoven was someone with rock-star appeal," David explains. "The real definition of a rock star is someone who's extremely passionate about music, somebody who's a genius, and tries not to be afraid of exploring. Beethoven was definitely not a follower."

David winces when he's asked if this is a covers album. "That would be the most horrible thought," he says wryly. "First of all, I tried to view every song from a very different angle than the original, and sometimes even changed the whole character of the piece. Secondly, not using vocals gives a lot of freedom."

Born in Aachen, Germany with an American ballerina mother and a German lawyer as a father, David and his family were nurturing his international solo career since his early childhood. By his teens, he was subject to a grueling schedule of symphonic concerts and recordings--but even by then, he longed to escape that life. Without telling his parents, he fled to New York, where his life revolved around rock, clubbing, and a seemingly deserved rebellion, abandoning the classical violin.

But even in that hedonistic milieu, he realized that he missed the instrument that had been such a crucial part of his identity. He decided to audition at the world-famous Juilliard School, where he was not only accepted as a student, but also invited to join the studio of one of classical music's most legendary artists, Itzhak Perlman.

While he was at Juilliard, David began picking up various side jobs, including modeling gigs. His intense, chiseled looks quickly earned him a place in such magazines as Vogue and on the catwalk for Armani during Fashion Week. With such a fashion pedigree, his personal style is also a great hybrid of influences. "My fashion sense is very rock," David observes, "though I like to wear a suit too. I like to mix it up." That's true for his music-making as well - as evidenced on his groundbreaking Rock Symphonies album.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 20, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B003O86MY8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,171 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I've always been a fan of music that crosses genres. Artists like Mike Phillips who mixes hip hop and jazz so well, or the Finnish band "Apocalyptica" who play heavy metal on Cellos.

And of course the "Hip Hop Violinist" herself, Miri Ben Ari who has been featured with such hip hop artists as Kanye West, Scarface, Talib Kweli, Akon, Styles P and others.

I first listened to the snippets of the album, because as much as I love this kind of thing, it's often very hit or miss. For every Miri Ben Ari or Apocalyptica there's a whole slew of others that make you want to burn your ears off.

After listening to three snippets, I immediately bought it. Even if it had been 10 dollars I would have gotten it, because this is really good music.

He covers a wide range of Rock music from Nirvana (Smells Like Teen Spirit) and Guns N'Roses (November Rain) back to Aerosmith (Walk this way) and Led Zeppelin (Kashmir), and also throws in some classical classics such as Beethoven's 5th and Toccata.

I remember the first time I heard Apocalyptica was while viewing the film "Your Friends and Neighbors" in the theater while living in Charlottesville Virginia. I heard them playing Metallica songs on Cellos during the opening and closing credits and was amazed. I had never heard anything like that before.

I felt that again while listening to Garrett's album because I think even though I've heard this type of thing before, it's still something that takes me aback. It's not something you hear every day. You don't turn on the radio and hear this. You tend to hear the same 10-25 songs a day (several times a day) and there's very little exposure to true artists like Garrett.
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I got this CD as soon as I saw the amazon ad for it. His earlier CD David Garrett was mind-blowing (and I am a grandma!) and I was anxious to play this when it arrived. Okay, so DG is a brilliant violinist and it shows on this album. BUT I doubt he had much to do with the production end of it. He does some great arrangements but some of the cuts here lack his usual vitality. What is most disappointing, though, is the editing. Poor sound quality, the mixing borders on horrible. This is studio work of the worst kind. My feeling is that his producers wanted to rush this out in prep for the spectacular DVD Rock Symphonies available now only from PBS (for the usual overprice donation).
What I want to say most of all here is that if you saw the DVD on PBS, don't expect this CD to be made of cuts of the live performance. The two media only have a name and a very few cuts in common. And none of the jaw-dropping fervor. After hearing DG Live in Berlin, I bought the CD and waited for the release of the DVD, again, a much superior product. "It is not available." on amazon and PBS doesn't have it either. Huh???????????? Maybe if we all scream, his record label will issue a CD of the Rock Symphonies DVD ....
Perhaps it's that some of the excitement about hearing his virtuosity is lost without his obvious delight in playing toe to toe with his bass guitarists and other members of his orchestra in a live venue. His duet with Orianthe is lackluster on this CD; it is a powerhouse on the DVD.
So why four stars instead of three? For those who want more (actually, less for us fans since there are only a few cuts)exposure to this kind of music, you can hear a few great licks sampled here and do ITunes. But to hear the real artist, buy the David Garrett CD.
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It pains me to write a less-than-enthusiastic review for this album, as I am a fan of David Garrett, but I must be honest. I thought his first U.S. album, titled "David Garrett" was great. This album, though, is not that good.

I thought his rendition of Vivaldi's "Summer" on his first U.S. album was fantastic, and I was expecting his renditions of Beethoven's 5th symphony and Vivaldi's "Winter" on this one to be just as good. Much to my dismay, I found that they were not so well done. The beginning and end of each of those songs are quite good and the songs could have been magnificent overall had he not taken excessive artistic license with them. The middle of "The 5th" slumps into a chaotic, disco-like mess, and "Vivaldi vs. Vertigo" is overly repetitive. His violin-playing is out of sync with the orchestra in "The 5th" - I can't understand why they let that slide.

I had heard him play "Kashmir" twice in concert with his band, and it was very moving. This rendition, however, was weak and disappointing. Much the same for most of the other pieces.

I do give him credit for "Toccata" and "Master of Puppets", which were well done. But that's not much compared to his prior, much better album.
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"Rock Symphonies" is not your granny's oeuvre (although I dare say David has converted plenty of grannies).DG promised us an adventure and boy did he bring it!Here are a few thoughts that went through my head as I listened to the CD:ground breaking, exhilarating, exciting, dramatic,and perhaps most important of all, passionate. David's passion for pieces in this CD is so palpable, one can't help but be drawn in. Let's not forget the virtuosity. There is a lot going on in "Rock Symphonies", but the one constant is that David Garrett is one fabulously talented and original violin virtuoso.The better your sound system and the more often you listen to "Rock Symphonies"the more you will appreciate David's mind-bending interpretations of both Rock and Classic masterpieces. Bravo
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pretty boy
Everything you just said makes absolutely no sense. "Genre mashing" but without the gushing accolades, so much hype you leave from a performance with your head spinning followed by a let down. STOP!!!!!!!
Jul 12, 2011 by Pat V |  See all 4 posts
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