Entertainment Weekly (12/10/93, p.78) - "...Not your garden variety orchestral set...[THE YELLOW SHARK] goes a long way in certifying [Zappa's] long-stymied ambition as a Serious Music longhair...cracked cabaret and atonality abound: poo-poo jokes are, thankfully, omitted..." - Rating: A
Q (8/95, pp.150-151) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Compiled from several European concerts, these are his most successful chamber pieces."
Stereo Review (3/94, p.98) - Performance: Wild, Weird Stuff / Recording: Stellar - "...Zappa's orchestral music defies convention, often dissolving rhythm and harmonic relationships to explore the timbral and textural possibilities of the instruments....THE YELLOW SHARK is a fittingly peevish and bracing summation of his unparalleled musical overview...."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.138) - "[C]onductor Peter Rundel leads Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern through 19 tracks from Zappa's canon to prove how well suited his material is to orchestral treatment..."
THE YELLOW SHARK consists of Frank Zappa compositions commissioned by the German orchestra Modern Ensemble in September 1992. The tracks included here are Zappa's reconstructions of these pieces, as well as early tracks and more recent songs.
Personnel: Frank Zappa (spoken vocals, conductor).
Ensemble Modern includes: Peter Rundel (conductor, violin); Hilary Stuart (spoken vocals, viola); Herman Kretzschmar (spoken vocals, piano, harpsichord, celeste); Jurgen Ruck (guitar, banjo); Claudia Sack (violin); Friedemann Dahn (violincello); Ueli Wiget (harp, piano, harpsichord, celeste); Wolfgang Stryi (bass & contrabass clarinets, tenor saxophone); Catherine Milliken (oboe, English horn, didgeridoo); William Formann, Michael Gross (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, cornet); Michael Svoboda (trombone, euphonium, didgeridoo, alphorn); Uwe Dierksen (trombone, soprano trombone); Stefan Dohr (horn); Thomas Fichter (acoustic & electric basses); Rumi Ogawa-Helferich (cymbalom, percussion); Andreas Bottger (percussion).
Includes liner notes by Rip Rense, Frank Zappa and Peter Rundel.
Personnel: Jürgen Ruck (guitar, banjo); Ueli Wiget (harp, piano, celesta, harpsichord); Ellen Wegner (harp); Detlef Tewes (mandolin); Peter Rundel, Mathias Tacke, Claudia Sack (violin); Hilary Sturt (viola); Friedemann Dahn (cello); Dietmar Wiesner (flute); Catherine Milliken (didjeridu, oboe, English horn); Michael Svoboda (didjeridu, trombone, euphonium, alphorn); Wolfgang Stryi (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Roland Diry (clarinet); Veit Scholz (bassoon, contrabassoon); William Formann, Michael Gross (trumpet, piccolo trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn); Uwe Dierksen (trombone, soprano trombone); Daryl Smith (tuba); Franck Ollu, Stefan Dohr (horns); Hermann Kretzschmar (piano, celesta, harpsichord); Rumi Ogawa-Helferich, Andreas Bottger, Rainer Römer (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Spencer Chrislu.
Liner Note Author: Rip Rense.
Photographers: Henning Lohner; Hans Jörg Michel.
Readers: Hermann Kretzschmar; Hilary Sturt.
Arranger: Ali N. Askin.
Frank Zappa was not only a great satirist, an incredible guitarist and eclectic bandleader, he was also one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His avant-garde instrumental compositions ranged from the ridiculously absurd to outright masterpieces. On a series of European concerts in 1992, the unique Ensemble Modern performed many of Zappa's works for contemporary orchestra as well as arrangements of some of his instrumental rock pieces and assorted sketches. The recorded result is the magnificent THE YELLOW SHARK.
This once-in-a-lifetime event is one of the few chances to hear Zappa's compositional genius performed by an ensemble that could execute such dramatic colors and textures the way FZ intended. The grandeur of the opening "Dog Breath Variations" sets the stage for the ensuing hurricane of sounds. The agitation of "Outrage At Valdez" and the dark string ensemble piece "Times Beach II" are balanced by lighter works like "Be-Bop Tango" and "Pound For A Brown." "Food Gathering In Post-Industrial America, 1992" and "Welcome To The United States" are ingenious combinations of narration and sound effects yielding hilarious results. Finally, the closing "G-Spot Tornado" is a powerful exclamation of Zappa's contemporary compositional design.
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