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Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto ''Eleven Eleven''; Piano Quartet
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Danny Elfman's music is known to millions, and in addition to his more than 100 film scores, he writes music for the concert hall. About this project, he writes: Most people know me as a film composer. A few years ago I came to the conclusion that I didn't just want to write orchestral music totally free from the influence of film, I virtually had to in order to keep my sanity. Over the last decade I had done several non-film concert commissions, and each time I found them to be incredibly liberating and relieving. This album includes a newly written Violin Concerto by the famous film composer, recorded for the first time. The second piece on the album, the Piano Quartet, is performed by members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
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The real surprise of this album is the chamber work, a piano quartet. Elfman was definitely in a strange place when asked to consider the task, but the inclusion of a piano provided some freedom. The 5-section piece, performed by members of the Berlin Philharmonic and pianist Markus Groh, is remarkably complex, classical, and modern with no traces of movie styles. Elfman, however, reaches back to childhood in the second movement with the sing-song taunt we all know, probably the first to do so for a classical composition. Elfman was at the time groovin' with the Shostokovich quartets and he must have been inspired. Elfman is a brilliant autoditact, and this new direction ("to keep my sanity," he wrote) is to be applauded.
The concerto is large, lyrical, and bombastic, and the performance is electrifying. The booklet contains marvelous information about the composer, the soloist, and the process which led to the composition. The recording itself is rich and full, given the difficulty of pitting a solo violin against a very large accompanying orchestra.
At one point in the second (of four) movements, the solo violin duels with a percussion section of six players. It's both eerie and amazing. At other points, this is the most savage violin playing I've ever herd, and I'm really old.
If you favor violin concertos or large scale orchestral works or clear, powerful, modern recordings, get this CD!
I thought the concerto was okay - enjoyable in certain ways, but, for me, it doesn't really hang together into quite a cohesive whole. Of course, Mr. Elfman's fans will love every second of it - I like Mr. Elfman's music sometimes, but I'm not rabid about it. The quintet was more interest and more than a little Herrmannesque, which is always fine by me. And a little Glass, too (Philip, not Paul, well maybe even some Paul). The entire affair is, as is the fashion today, mastered too hot, as if it were a rock record. It's not. So, if you're a fan, it'll probably be for you. If not, I'm not sure what you'll make of it. I do admire anyone who sets out to do a thing and does it.
Brazen percussion theme throughout while Sandy Cameron attempts to set her violin on fire and elements of Mr. Elfmans familar tone are ever present. Not sure what the number eleven represents but I cant wait for twelve.