Sting: Symphonicities

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Posted September 13, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

sting00Predictable move to some, Sting revives his catalog of songs using background symphonics and delicate string arrangements

Sting has stretched probably as far as he can ever imagine when it comes to wavering over multiple genres. He’s pretty much done it all in his expansive recording journey – from his outstanding, relatively short career with The Police to his smart rock-pop in his solo tenure. It was about time he touched on producing a fully symphony-laden offering, since he’s never shied too far from big orchestral arrangements on his own chart-topping hits. Sting’s 2009’s holiday offering, If On a Winter’s Night, and the ambitious John Dowland tribute album (Songs from the Labyrinth) hinted at the possibilities of a full orchestral effort. So there wasn’t much of a surprise when Sting released his labor of love towards classical with Symphonicities. On board, Sting uncovers his revered songbook to the classical interpretations handled by producer Rob Mathes and a host of arrangers (Jorge Calandrelli, David Hartley, Vince Mendoza, Michel Legrand, Bill Ross, Robert Sadin). He deals with much of his solo work and does an even better job reworking some of his overlooked offerings, even ones handled by other artists.

The Police offerings are probably the heaviest of the remixed; including the reggae-less “Roxanne” and the tranquil, drumless arrangement of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” It’s not like the Police cuts presented are damnable or out-of-pocket; it’s just lighter in calories compared with their timeless prototypes. As for Sting’s solo work, this is where the arrangers’ designs are more proficient in their style and translation. “Englishman in New York” isn’t a far-fetch remake, since the refurb handles the same exact symphonic arrangements of the original. Of all the more familiar numbers, “Englishman” pretty much steals the show. “The End of the Game,” a rarity, gets a neat rock embellishment with thick rhythms. “She’s Too Good For Me” allows him to take his rock ‘n roll-gospel number deeper into the pits of classical awareness with its sharp, quick-witted viola action. “I Burn for You,” “When We Dance” and two stunning duets with Jo Lawry on “You Will Be My Ain True Love” and the closer “The Pirate’s Bride” are also delicate contributions to the soundtrack.

Certainly Symphonicities isn’t meant to replace Sting’s originals. Its devout purpose is to provide a tangible keepsake of the live concert world tour featuring the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. For fans of classical looking for pop crossover muse reaching beyond the Josh Groban market, Symphonicities will definitely entreat. Loyal Sting followers will appreciate his warm brushes with a full orchestra, even if they’re cringing over some of their most beloved Police tunes losing some of its character and flavor. But for classical sake and for easy-listening pleasures, Symphonicities meets satisfactory conditions. Definitely one of Sting’s most refreshing and ambitious efforts in recent memory. One thing’s for certain for one of rock’s beloved vocalists: it certainly beats him attempting another one of those pesky viral American songbooks and bearing the image of an artist facing a mid-life crisis.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 13 Jul 2010
  • Label: DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON
  • Producers: Rob Mathes, Sting
    Track Favs: Englishman In New York, When We Dance, She’s Too Good for Me, The End of the Game


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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