Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Introducing the new album from German composer-producer Sven Helbig, who has worked with Rammstein, Pet Shop Boys, Snoop Dogg, Polarkreis 18 and German rapper Sido - to be pre-released in Germany in February, international release in July 2013. "Pocket Symphonies" are twelve symphonic pearls in the form of songs. Short, infectious, beautifully melodic, and yet with the immensity and depth of symphonic-like works, Helbig draws his inspiration from centuries of power and glory. If you like the music of Einaudi, Reich, Richter, Glass, Jenkins and other accessible contemporary composers, you will be drawn to this music. Helbig's emotional symphonic images for orchestra and piano are closely connected to his life, experiences, aspirations and also the voids between epochs, systems and continents.
"When one writes a three-and-a-half-minute symphony, a song is automatically created", according to his own personal 'credo'. "There is a genetic relationship; but in a song, one has to express within just a few bars what a symphony affords a whole movement for expressing. However, if one compresses a symphony in all of its dimensions of length, dynamics and emotions, then a song is what remains - whether one likes it or not; it doesn't work any other way. In this respect, the Pocket Symphonies are in fact symphonic songs." For the recording, Helbig continued his collaboration with the award-winning Fauré Quartett - ECHO winners in 2010 for "Klassik ohne Grenzen" (Classic without Borders). The Estonian-American conductor Kristjan Järvi, who has conducted almost all of the world's great orchestras, accompanies Helbig and the Fauré Quartett. Järvi called the Pocket Sym-phonies "probably one of the best things I've ever done"
Pocket Symphonies celebrated its world premiere at a special Yellow Lounge Concert on 25 February in Dresden, Germany (on.fb.me/VIBr6t) with a follow-up Yellow Lounge in Berlin on 26 February. Similar artists include Nils Frahm, Philip Glass & Ludovico Einaudi.
The Times, 27th July 2013
Helbig is an East German-born composer who combines a classical music language with a laid-back, postmodern sensibility...suave playing from the FaurT Quartett and the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Gramophone Magazine, October 2013
Helbig has been fortunate in his exponents, with the FaurT Quartet contributing a subtle sheen of expressive warmth on certain numbers and the Leipzig Radio Symphony responding with unanimity...to Kristjan Jarvi.
Audio Mixers: Tom Russbüldt; Tobias Lehmann.
Liner Note Author: Wolf Kampmann.
Recording information: Studio am Augustusplatz Leipzig & Teldex Studio Berlin.
Editor: Tobias Lehmann.
Photographers: Mat Hennek; Peter Rigaud ; Claudia Weingart.
While Sven Helbig's Pocket Symphonies is presented by Deutsche Grammophon as a collection of lavishly produced songs in symphonic guise, the style has more in common with adult contemporary or easy listening categories than with classical music. Despite the appearance of Kristjan Järvi, the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony, and the Fauré Quartet, who bring ample talent and commitment to the proceedings, the album actually consists of lush and occasionally lively instrumentals that no one would mistake for western symphonic music, except for the use of an orchestra. Helbig can't even be described accurately as a crossover artist, because he neither plays with traditional forms nor takes off from classical ideas, but is already firmly set in the sphere of modern studio music. His tracks are arranged to perfection and filled with plaintive melodies, gorgeous sonorities, and rich harmonies, but they offer nothing that suggests symphonic contrasts, modulations, or development. This is no discredit to Helbig, who composes his miniatures with professional skill and presents his themes in digestible pieces, from two to five minutes in length. The dominant mood of the album is introspective and melancholy, with some bursts of activity along the way, and Helbig's titles suggest an autumnal resignation and sentimentality that at times evoke the Romantic composers of short character pieces. This album is sure to appeal to casual listeners who like pretty instrumental music in the vein of Karl Jenkins or Ludovico Einaudi, though it is unlikely to draw in serious classical fans.
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