Album Remarks & Appraisals:
An orchestral presentation of The Who’s 1973 groundbreaking album and seminal rock opera, featuring performances by Pete Townshend, Billy Idol, Phil Daniels (the original star of the film, Quadrophenia) and British tenor Alfie Boe. This magnificent work chronicles the British Mods of the 60’s, the joys and pains of young adulthood, and the familiar feelings of loneliness and longing for love and human connection.
As a leading icon of the British music revolution of the 1960s, Pete Townshend made his name by creating the power chord, smashing guitars onstage, and penning anthems of teenage rebellion like "My Generation." Now, at almost 70 years old and half a century after he penned the archetypal rock lyric "Hope I die before I get old," Townshend has created a classical version of one of The Who's landmark albums, Quadrophenia for a symphony orchestra, opera singer and choir.
This new orchestral version of Quadrophenia, an album originally released by The Who in 1973, was orchestrated by Rachel Fuller, a professional composer, orchestrator and singer-songwriter in her own right and also the partner of Pete Townshend. Its release on the Deutsche Grammophon label will be celebrated with a world premiere concert at the Royal Albert Hall, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and London Oriana Choir.
The project is the latest chapter in Townshend's lifelong mission to break the three-minute mold of the traditional pop song and take rock music to a higher artistic level. In the 1960s he defined the concept of the rock opera with Tommy, taking it a stage further with Quadrophenia.
Conceived and written by Townshend in 1973, Quadrophenia went on to become a feature film and a theater production, and was performed in its entirety on The Who's most recent live tour. For the last three years Townshend has worked closely with Rachel Fuller on brand-new arrangements for orchestra, soloists and choir.
Recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2014 at London's legendary Air Studios, the new incarnation of this classic rock opera is conducted by Robert Ziegler and features popular British tenor Alfie Boe on vocals, with Townshend himself on electric guitar and performing cameo vocal roles. Townshend will reprise his roles at the live world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 5 July 2015, alongside the RPO, Ziegler, Boe and other star guests.
Pete Townshend: Classic Quadrophenia (Trailer)
Quadrophenia by Pete Townshend
Performer: Pete Townshend (Electric Guitar/Voice), Alfie Boe (Tenor), Billy Idol (Voice),
Phil Daniels (Voice)
Conductor: Robert Ziegler
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Notes: Orchestration: Rachel Fuller
Lyricist: Pete Townshend.
Audio Mixer: Myles Clarke.
Liner Note Authors: Tim Cooper; Pete Townshend.
Recording information: Air Studios, London (10/21/2014-10/23/2014).
Photographers: Michael Müller; Jill Furmanovsky; Geoff Richman.
Pete Townshend's Classic Quadrophenia finds the singer/songwriter turning his 1973 rock opera into a full-fledged opera. Enlisting his partner Rachel Fuller to adapt the album into a classical piece, Townshend found a sensitive, simpatico collaborator who manages to retain the oversized dramatic sweep of the piece. Similarly, conductor Robert Ziegler leads the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra through the piece with gusto, mirroring the majesty of the Who if not the mayhem. Generally, that's the curious thing about Classic Quadrophenia: it is recognizably the album in its form but not quite in feel. Some of that is due to this not being a Who record, of course, but shifting the piece into the classical realm ratchets up the melancholy that runs throughout the opera, making it less an explosion of teenage angst and more of a bittersweet reflection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine