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| Not your father's "Switched on Bach"...|
William Orbit takes a modern synth approach to classics by Barber, Beethoven and Vivaldi without going the disco "Hooked on Classics" approach (or its modern day equivalents like the BOND girls...). Some may love it, purists may hate it, but it is interesting to see technology enable the individual to perform large scale works that required full orchestras in the past.
On a personal note, I like the cd, and defended it against a snobbish snipe of "surely you realize that the original (Adagio for Strings) is better....". Recently, though, I uploaded my Ravel's Bolero to iTunes, and with iTunes on random, Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte started to play (a piece that Orbit covers on his cd.) I recognized the melody from Orbit's version, though I had never heard Ravel's version (and didn't even realize I owned it; I usually turned the Ravel cd off after Bolero). The Ravel version, for some reason,made me cry a little, something that the Orbit version never did to me. The funny thing was that I was not aware at first what I was listening to; I was occupied with some task while I was listening and not paying attention to the music, I just felt suddenly overcome. The synth version is interesting in its use of tonal coloration, but it lacked something from the orchestral version, even though the melody was played note for note...which suggests that melody alone is not enough.
I'd be interested to hear theories on what makes the orchestral versions stand out from the synth versions, if anyone's game...