Friday, February 28, 2014

Ice Ice Baby

Among the many things that have diverted me in the past few weeks, the Winter Olympics is probably the most unlikely. But it's true, the antics of the GB curling teams, the skiers, the snowboarders and the ice skaters have all managed to rekindle a little of the London 2012 magic, even if you can't quite escape the nagging feeling that careening down an icy half-pipe on a glorified tea tray with little to no control over your descent is more a contest of luck than skill. Hell, I even enjoyed the countless documentaries about Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's ice skating triumph in Sarajevo 30 years ago (and incidentally is it acceptable to say Jayne Torvill in 1984- meh; Jayne Torvill in 2014- phwoar? No? Ok then).

All that  exposure to Ravel's Bolero sent me back to one of my favourite albums of the last few years, Deutsche Grammophon Recomposed by Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald, one of a series in which various artistes from outside the slightly anal word of classical music are invited to remix and generally mess around with the august Deutsche Grammophon catalogue. The artists invited thus far include Jimi Tenor, Matthew Herbert and Edinburgh's very own Max Richter. Now I've never thought very highly of Carl Craig, even though I own a few of his records, because he was idiotic enough to insist on posing on the cover of The Wire holding a gun, the sort of buffoonish behaviour you might expect from the P Diddys of this world rather than supposedly thoughtful techno DJs. Moritz Von Oswald, on the other hand, I have a lot of time for; I mean, you have to tip your hat to someone who was  an occasional member of the Associates as well as founding the Basic Channel label. Anyway, however the workload was divided, between them they came up with a superb piece of work, remixing the aforementioned Bolero, as well as Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The Bolero rerub is nothing short of spectacular, building over an intro section and four movements, from a series of repeated string and horn motifs to a full-on Detroit floor filler. With parts drafting in and out of phase à la Steve Reich, it's entirely of a piece with Deutsche Grammophon's ethos and never feels forced. This isn't Hooked On Classics. The original Ravel, incidentally, is played by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert Von Karajan, which no doubt explains the exquisite packaging of the CD , featuring numerous piccies of the two remixers in and around Hans Scharoun's still-gobsmacking Berlin Philharmonic building (above). Anyway, purchase or download are recommended highly. There's a taster below, the Second Movement,which gives you a bit of a feel for how it builds over time. And it may also make you think of Jayne Torvill. Which is nice.

Buy the CD here

1 comment:

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