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So There Set
Double Vinyl, Includes Download Card
|Listen Now with Amazon Music|
|Amazon Music Unlimited|
|New from||Used from|
|Vinyl, September 11, 2015||
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Ben Folds takes a turn on his forthcoming album, So There, available September 11th. He embraces strings and chamber music yet still maintains a passion for his love of pop. So There consists of eight chamber pop songs with the very talented yMusic Ensemble and a 21 minute piano concerto performed with the Nashville Symphony. Ben Folds meeting and recording with yMusic became the bridge between the classically themed concerto and the contemporary chamber rock songs that live in harmony on So There. The combination is an inspired body of work on both small and grand scales.
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The three movement piano concerto is definitely the tracks of interest to me on this album as I did not know what to expect from a "pop artist" but I was pleasantly surprised. Folds has a strong background in classical music as is evident in his solo concerts if you get a chance to see him live. It's no surprise that he was paying homage to some of the greatest composers and pianists in history; for example, there are hints of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in the first piano cadenza of movement I and there are other times where he'd mimick the stylings of Beethoven, Rachmanioff and Shostakovich in his orchestral and left hand accompaniment. The second movement reminded me of some of Debussy's piano compositions like the Engulfed Cathedral while the third movement seemed to envelop all of these composers mixed into one. The first movement, while being the longest, was my personal favorite though I felt it could've been cut into two movements (which would've made it a 4-movement work, each of which lasting roughly 4-5 minutes in length)--Ben Folds claimed that the second movement was his favorite to compose. Overall, though this is only one listener's opinion, I was impressed by the album and somewhat disappointed that I did not see Ben Folds when he was performing his concerto in Dallas. I recommend every BF give this album a listen and perhaps the piano concerto will introduce the classical stylings of former pianists to a new audience.
Which brings me to the Piano Concerto. I'll start with the criticism - Ben Folds has so many musical ideas, and I love that about him. It serves him well when writing an album of short pop songs, but listening to the First Movement of the Concerto is like being buffeted by a whirlwind of ideas and different composers' styles. I loved each of the ideas as they came up, but after a while, I wanted him to settle things down a bit and maybe develop one or two ideas a bit more before going to the next. He's no dummy musically, and he did some development - I just wanted more to tie the movement together a bit more cohesively. He did a better job of that in the second movement, I thought. The third movement kind of just ends with a whimper.
Now after having said all that, I'm so happy that he decided to write a Concerto - it ain't easy. It's been way too long since any of my piano heroes attempted that, and I hope he'll try it again one day. (I was always disappointed that Keith Emerson only wrote one.) The first movement in particular is just so much fun!....so many ideas, so many fun piano figures! His playing is really clean, too. There's a lot to admire there, and I'm sure he knew all the purists out there would dump on him for his effort, so I admire him all the more for going for it. The creative spark is so strong in him, and I love seeing him stretch into whatever areas he wants to go and ignoring labels - he always gives me something to think about and enjoy, so more power to him. I'll gladly go along for the musical ride wherever he wants to take me! Now I'm going to go listen to the first movement again....
As far as the concerto itself, I did not enjoy it as much as the rest of the album. I am ecstatic that Folds in continuing to push his musical boundaries but I feel the concerto had kind of a video game soundtrack feel to it. I think it might have been more appropriate to be released as an EP and replace it with three or four more chamber rock tracks.
Overall I enjoy the album and recommend it to other Ben Folds fans.
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Very fun music, clever lyrics, interesting melodies, and unique arrangements.Read more