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Tony Banks: Six pieces for orchestra / Charlie Siem, violin; Martin Robertson, alto sax

Album Summary

>Banks, Tony : Pieces (6) for orchestra
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Tony Banks, founder member of rock band Genesis, has already written a much admired orchestral work called Seven (8.557466), which was praised for its 'genuine melodic gift' (Gramophone). His new work consists of six songs without words which may evoke in the listener ideas of seduction, journey, hero, quest, decision and goal. Two of the pieces feature solo instruments - alto saxophone on Siren and violin on Blade - played here by elite soloists, which mesh into Banks's orchestral tapestry with bewitching effect. The remaining pieces reveal his outstanding lyrical gifts and total command of musical narrative. Throughout 2009 Charlie Siem's reputation as one of the brightest new classical artists grew with prestigious concerts in Paris, London, Oslo, Bergen and Basel. He has since enjoyed a very successful career, appearing with major orchestras and at festivals around the world. Martin Robertson began his solo career in 1986, and has since performed as a soloist with the Berlin, Los Angeles and London Philharmonic Orchestras, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

BBC Music Magazine
Ex-Genesis member Tony Banks in classical mode, each of the six pieces majoring on rhapsodic feeling and bold melodies. Blade, featuring the solo violin of Charlie Siem, is the most impressive.

American Record Guide, September / October 2012
Tony Banks is the founder of the rock band Genesis and a new convert to classical music as well. This is crossover, a hybrid of pop music gestures, film music harmonies, and effective 19th Century retro symphonic writing. This is his second recording for Naxos. These six symphonic songs are full of openhearted melody and glamorous orchestration, predictable and not very innovative but very easy to take. Particularly pleasing is The Oracle, a serene bit of tunefulness that has harmonies, harps, and woodwind writing that sound a bit like early Delius.

The orchestra has a big, brassy sound, with lush strings for the soupier lyrical moments - and there are plenty of those. Martin Robertson's alto sax solos in Siren and Charlie Siem's violin in Blade are smooth and stylish.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Smécky Music Studios, Prague, Czech Republic (03/13/2011-03/17/2011).


Very nice new music with "pops" roots
Tony Banks is known to many listeners as one of the founding members of the major '80s rock group Genesis. Like many talented rockers, Banks has turned his focus to different genres of music making in their post-touring world. Many performers have turned to forms of classical composition and film scoring Some of the best known and most successful examples include Paul McCartney, Danny Elfman and fellow Genesis genius Peter Gabriel. I have not heard Banks' first Naxos orchestral release "Seven" but I have certainly read good things about it The present release focuses on Banks' desire to write short, attractive concert pieces that may even include solo instruments. I think this collection succeeds on all accounts! The opening work, "Siren" is scored for solo saxophone and orchestra. Soloist Martin Robertson is a tremendous player and has an international reputation for orchestral saxophone playing. This is a bouyant and fun piece to listener to. "Still Waters" is a very cinematic sounding work with sweeping string writing and some nice solo lines for the horns. "Blade" is a very exciting, driving work with a wonderful solo violin part performed by the excellent Charlie Siem. This work has a bit of Celtic feel and I truly admire the chattering, propulsive backdrop to the soaring solo line. This was probably my favorite work of the "Six". Truthfully, every piece here is very entertaining. "Wild Pilgrimage" is a calmer work that does, indeed, have a "searching" quality to the melody and with beautiful string writing again. "The Oracle" is a deeply fervent; almost religious sounding work with some very soulful wind lines. "City of Gold" is the longest work in this collection and it feels a bit like a small scale tone poem with some exotic elements. The score evokes grand vistas and a sense of discovery. In the booklet notes, Tony Banks indicates that these six pieces could be thought of as a set with a theme or "universal story" that covers the aspects of "seductress, journey, hero, quest, decision and goal" As Banks also points out, it is up to the listener to attach those concepts to the pieces or not. Almost equal compliment must be paid to Paul Englishby who actually orchestrated these works for Banks from the composer's piano originals. Englishby is a film composer of note and a brilliant orchestrator by these samples. I enjoyed these works a great deal for the genre that they exist in. I think Tony Banks would make a very fine film composer himself and these works are highly entertaining in their own right, especially "Blade" - but they're all quite good!
Submitted on 05/01/12 by Dan Coombs 
Cinematic in scope.
Familiarity with Tony Banks as a founding member and keyboardist for Genesis, while illuminating, isn't the whole story to his new release, Six Pieces for Orchestra. As with other musicians of his era who have made the transition to orchestral scoring, Banks shows an altogether unfamiliar side in these compositions. His second release, preceded by the successful Seven, takes us on a sonic tour of ideas unexplored in his more familiar art rock/prog/pop world, evoking strong imagery all along the way.

From the opening, I glanced up at my TV to ensure I wasn't actually dialed into a movie I'd left in the Blu-Ray player. A quick check of inputs showed I was indeed dialed into the analog outputs of my SACD player. Such is the sweeping cinematic feel of this disc. In part, this would owe to the orchestration work of Paul Englishby, who translated these works from the original piano compositions. An accomplished composer and orchestrator himself, Englishby utilizes a broad palette in realizing Banks' works in concert with the City of Prague Philharmonic. Any expectation of Banks' complex but familiar modalities should be suspended, as these works are rooted in an altogether different yet equally well thought set of ideas.

Liner notes have Banks describing the pieces a "seductress, journey, hero, quest, decision and goal". Subsequent listening sessions after reading the notes were illuminated by these themes, but they are by no means necessary to evoke visual imaginings of the music - these are present throughout.

The two pieces featuring soloists Charlie Siem on violin and Martin Robertson on alto saxophone are interesting in maintaining the broad orchestral appeal while serving the soloist. In service to both soloists, the shorter length of each work allows a balance of melody and accompaniment throughout that would ebb and flow far more in longer pieces.

For those fans of film composers, from the contemporary such as Danny Elfman, to the more classic works of Maurice Jarre, Tony Banks Six would be a surprising adventure. Those those who come to these works by other means, they are nonetheless compelling musical vignettes.

Submitted on 05/28/12 by Timothy Nolan 
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Works Details

>Banks, Tony : Pieces (6) for orchestra
  • Performer: Martin Robertson (Saxophone)
  • Conductor: Paul Englishby
  • Ensemble: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Smécky Music Studios, Prague, Czech Republic (03/13/2011-03/17/2011)
  • Running Time: 51 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary