Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical
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Paper Music challenges stereotypes
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Paper Music isn't for purists, but if you're among those of us who believe that mixing the new with the old can be good for classical music, and win new audience members besides, then you might consider hearing Bobby McFerrin's 1995 recording with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In recent years, the artist popularly known for "Don't Worry, Be Happy," has made a name in the classical world, perhaps most notably with Hush, his best-selling collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Paper Music witnesses McFerrin in a new role--conductor as well as vocal acrobat. He appears as soloist in only half of the recorded tracks; as John Schaefer remarks in the album's liner notes, this is "very much a conductor's record." From the opening bars of the first track, we sense that McFerrin has not missed his calling. Unafraid to unleash the fire that's in Mozart, he draws a tight, spirited performance of the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, in which we are struck by the tremendous force of the piece's many rhythmic jolts. Mozart gets further tribute later in the entire Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, a rather uneventful addition to the slew of recordings available of this piece, which is unfortunate considering the sizable percentage of space it takes up on the CD. The only other selections in which McFerrin rests his vocal folds are the Minuetto and Finale from Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, and the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream--both faithful performances of these composers at their best. Ultimately, the non-vocal tracks are not the album's selling points, and, admittedly, not being able to see McFerrin conduct, one wonders how frequently to credit him for the sound of the SPCO. Boccherini's Menuet from String Quintet No. 1, arranged for string orchestra, flute, and voice, is the first we hear of McFerrin's "instrumental vocals." I almost felt betrayed when I heard his "second voice" sequenced a third away in the trio section. So much for a "live" performance. Nevertheless I was pleased with the result. It is in the violin concerti by Vivaldi and Bach that we witness the amazing facility with which McFerrin executes ornaments, arpeggios, and other vocal feats. Among the most impressive moments are the stunningly fast Alberti-like passages in the third movement of the Vivaldi, and the long fortspinnung lines sustained in the Bach. Although sometimes McFerrin's voice does not "sing out" to the extent that a violin might (especially in the louder and faster moments of the concerti), we can hardly fault him for that; after all, he's the one that has breached what we thought were inherent limitations to the vocal instrument. Acrobatics aside, the most convincingly musical moments are in the more lyrical selections (one would even say the more "vocal" selections), viz. the middle movement of the Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile, and the highlight of the album, Faure's Pavane. It is in this piece that McFerrin's voice is most suited to its role. Particularly striking is his final note. We can hardly tell where his voice ends and the clarinet begins; the effect is superhuman. Paper Music breaks stereotypes, not only of what the human voice can do, but of who does classical music and how it's supposed to be done. If classical music is to have any impact on today's culture, it must sustain dialogue with it. Thanks to Bobby McFerrin for doing his part. Oh, and if you were wondering what the title means, it's a term used by some African musicians--whose music exists among the people, as performed, as enjoyed, as alive--for the idea that music could be trapped and stored on paper--a peculiar concept indeed."
Basic yet entertaining
Patrik Lemberg | Tammisaari Finland | 08/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nicely done. A great vocal performence by Bobby McFerrin (as usual,) but a choice of very basic "classics."
There's a lot of weight put on the music of Mozart, amongst which "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" is included. I think no one alive haven't heard it already, and I personaly think it's starting to taste like wood, no matter how good the orchestra is. The piece is 17.5 minutes long, and does not feature McFerrin's voice (nothing revolutionary.)
What made decide to purchase "Paper Music" was that I'd heard this version of Faure's "Pavane" - which here, with McFerrin's voice, is beautifully performed (almost reason alone to get the CD.)
After having heard this version of the piece and having read somewhere that a version of Stravinsky's Minuetto & Finale from "Pulcinella Suite" also is included I ordered the CD immediately...but McFerrin doesn't sing on the piece and it's not as satisfying, to me, as listening to the piece conducted by Stravinsky himself (or better yet - by Yoel Levi.)
There could be more pieces featuring vocals (only five tracks do,) because every time McFerrin sings here "something new is brought to old music" (in lack of a better way of putting it.)
Tchaikovsky's "Andante cantabile for cello and string orchestra," which closes the album, is another high-light that also features McFerrin's vocals.
Get this disc if you like well performed classical music.
I, myself, enjoy the modern classical music of Varèse and Stravinsky et al, where there are constant surprises (and "new" sounds by only an element such as unorthodox instrumentation.) I do not, however, regret having spent a few dollars on this CD - it is worth giving a leave of absence from the old dust collector every now and then."
Not the best work by McFerrin
Giovanni Campanella | Florence, Italy | 01/04/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Paper Music" disappointed me. Very likely, McFerrin (who is renowned for his amazing skill as a vocalist) thinks that he is well versed in conducting, too. In my opinion, by aiming to show his talent as a conductor, he decided to limit his vocal performance. So he only sings in half of the tracks and, besides, he is miserly with his vocal invention. Unluckily, as neither his conducting is very original nor his voice is let free to amaze us, the final result is, on the whole, rather modest."