Music: Schlegel, and Genesis Reintepreted

Disclaimer: The following is about my personal musical taste,which may not be thesame as yours!

Ayn Rand enthusiastChristopher Schlegel wrote a symphony based onObjectivist virtues, called Symphony No. 3, “The Virtues of Man”. http://cdbaby.com/cd/schlegel

On his original recording,he had played it on a limited-range synthesizer and it sounded a bit dated, like Larry Fast’s Synergy records of the 1970s. The instrument’s limitationsdiffused the emotions and beauty in the composition.

Now he has re-recorded the piece with better instrumentation, although still including a synthesizer. It is far more listenable and enjoyable and I recommend the new version. It has the optimism and joie-de-vivre of (since I was just there, I’ll use this example:) the music in Walt Disney World’s Epcot attractions such as Illuminations.

I’m not sure which version CDBaby is selling, the 1997 original or the improved 2006 recording.

Now on to the topic of Genesis:

Ihave long foundmany of the musical compositions by the rock group Genesis, especially in the 1970s, to be inspired, passionateand interesting melodically (and often lyrically — some of the early songs are inspired by the Greek myths, for example). However, some of the songs are a bit too noisy for everyday listening, and some of Peter Gabriel’s singing (before he left the band)isn’t so pleasant (For example, his croaking “Why?” on the otherwise grand if pessimistic song “Time Table” from the “Foxtrot” album makes it hard to listen to it).

Well, in recent years, classically-trained musicians have transcribed the original songs to piano and classical instruments, and some of the original Genesis members have composed and recorded new, melodic music with classical instrumentation. These have been mostly outstanding. The best of the new interpretationsreally capture,illuminate and even enhancethe values of the original compositions that might be lost in the noise of the rock band,and I truly enjoy them as an alternative to the rock recordings.

I especially recommend “David Myers Plays Genesis.”MyersCD

Myers was the keyboard player for theworld-class Canadian Genesis tribute band, The Musical Box, and he transcribed some of the best songs, including “Time Table,” “One For The Vine” and “Firth of Fifth,” to piano with sensitivity and intelligence.

Almost asgood is “Genesis for Two Grand Pianos” by two Norwegian pianists, Guddal and Matte. GuddalCD

They have also released a second volume which I haven’t heard. And there is also astring quartet with piano led by Steve Oakman who recorded a CD called”A Classic Rock Tribute to Genesis” which Ihaven’t heard. So apparently this classical Genesis thing is a cottage industry!

Meanwhile, Steve Hackett’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Tony Banks’ “Seven” are new classical compositionsby original Genesis songwriters. The Hackett piece is pleasant background music, played with virtuosity, but not quite inspired. I enjoy Tony Banks’ “Seven” which sounds like John Williams style movie scores.

Steve Hackett has alsocomposed a second classical-style piece, “Metamorpheus,” which I haven’t heard. Hackett CD

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7 thoughts on “Music: Schlegel, and Genesis Reintepreted

  1. zigory

    Thanks for mentioning the London Symphony Orchestra’s “We Know What We Like.” Yes, it was the first classical-orchestra transcription of Genesis music. Unfortunately, I thought it failed, although a few of the pieces are listenable. It suffered from the “Muzak” curse, where classical musicians and transcribers cannot seem to bring themselves to play popular songs in a truly classical style. They have to “prove” it’s not serious music by adding “Boston Pops” style drums or a “jazzy” playing style that wasn’t inherent in the original piece. While on this subject, I will also state that Steve Oakman’s “Classic Rock Tribute to Genesis” by the Classic Rock String Quartet is utterly lacking in inspiration or creativity, taking interesting songs and removing every interesting element until they become virtually endless repetitions of simple melodies ad nauseum.

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  3. Philip Enns

    I’m afraid that I must disagree intensely with your comment about Peter Gabriel’s supposed “croaking” on the song Time Table. It is, in my opinion, the most enthralling part of the song, and it catches me every time…and I certainly don’t think anyone in their right mind can call any Genesis (their 70-75 period, anyway) music noisy…listen to Amon Duul, then reconsider! And Peter Gabriel was certainly the best (by far!) vocalist that Genesis ever had.

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  4. zigory

    Philip, thank you so much for your heartfelt, thoughtful comments. I understand what you mean that the Peter Gabriel singing of the word “Why?” is enthralling. I agree that it is the emotional core of the song, and I can be moved by the intention of that moment lyrically and the melodic composition that captures that emotion, but I find the sound of his voice there hard to take. I firmly believe Peter himself could re-sing the song in a way that would not cause this reaction in me. I love his voice in many songs. I think different people find different voices appealing or unappealing for very personal reasons. For example, I love Kate Bush including many of her high-pitched vocals, but I know many people who cannot stand her voice. I can enjoy some of Geddy Lee’s singing in Rush, but I dislike his high-pitched moments, yet some people cannot stand any of his singing. I like Jon Anderson’s male soprano in Yes, and others find it irritating. When I call Genesis music noisy, I mean compared to a piano sonata, not compared to other rock music.

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