on 2 May 2012
This is an album that has been made by the right man at the right time of his life-I feel all of Tony's music has lead him naturally to this great point,this is what Tony the composer was always meant to do.
The album contains some extraordinary beautiful music.I am a great fan of Delius and hoped by this second classical release that Tony would have 'hit his stride'...Well,he certainly has.
Listen closely to the piece 'Blade' it reminds me in places of Rimsky-Korsakov,with its excellent use of the violin to evoke sensations of joy,wistfulness and yes soaring elation.
I agree with so many others,that it would be fantastic to see this work performed live at some point.
All in all a very commendable work-well done Tony,your hard work creating this new album is very much appreciated.Indeed where would we be without Tony Banks in 2012, as we try to find musical solace in a world besotted with lightweight disposable pap!
on 30 April 2012
Tony Banks gained valuable experience from his first attempt at putting together a suite of classical music pieces
under the Naxos label - the previous album "SEVEN". This time round he has worked with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra under Paul Englishby. In my humble opinion this has helped greatly and the overall feel of this production sounds so much better than the first. This new work consists of 6 classical pieces, 2 of which feature solo elements - alto saxophone on "SIREN" (Martin Robertson) and violin on "BLADE" (Charlie Siem). These world class elite soloists were a great choice and have contributed to raise this album to a higher level.
MELODY is very prominent throughout the compositions and the soloist pieces are the magical touch - the piece "BLADE" being the highlight of the album. I wonder whether "CITY OF GOLD" relates to Banks' composition from the 1976 Genesis album "A TRICK OF THE TAIL"?
Tony Banks does not play piano on these pieces but fully concentrates on his role as Composer - a role that suits him well and which we hope will allow us to enjoy further classical albums in the future and perhaps also some film soundtrack music.
On another note, perhaps the album deserves a better front cover artwork as the overall simplicity of the blocks does not reflect the internal content.
I rate SIX as a 5 star album - fits in perfectly as a 21st century classical piece of work.
on 13 December 2012
It has been over eight years since Tony Banks released his first all-orchestral album "Seven", which (as I mentioned in my review at the time) managed to be a successful instance of an artist crossing over into the classical genre in spite of the general tendency for these ventures to have dubious results. I enjoyed "Seven" thoroughly, and I was curious and hopeful to hear more. Banks has dedicated the last several years of his solo career solely to orchestral music, and his compositional style, even in other areas, always seemed to evoke orchestral composition as a result of its inherent complexity.
Thankfully, Tony Banks has returned this year with "Six Pieces for Orchestra", which, as the title suggests, has one less composition than its predecessor. Banks joked recently that if he hangs around long enough he might just make it to Zero. Jocularity aside, "Six" happens to be even more musically adventurous than its predecessor. Banks' compositional style outside of classical often involves unique chords and complex arrangements. With "Seven," when he applied these complexities, he noted that often the results, while pleasing, were more straightforward than he had expected. As a result, with "Six", he decided that he could take the orchestra even further compositionally, which results in a more adventurous result on every track. The orchestra turns out to be the perfect palette for Banks, and the end performance on this album is directly from his composition and not the expansive musings of an orchestrator vigorously extrapolating a simple melody (which is unfortunately a frequent occurrence for many crossovers into the classical genre).
The most obvious differences to "Seven" are two compositions that feature a lead instrument: a violin on Blade and a saxophone on Siren. Blade, one of my favorite tracks on the album, is played expertly by Charlie Siem, who is one of the great up-and-coming violinists, and has an expansive virtuosic solo that complements a strong melody played by the orchestra. Siren has a solo saxophone played in a classical style by Martin Robertson. Compositionally, the lead instrument on Siren is more tied to the overall melody of the orchestra compared to Blade. Other tracks include Still Waters, which starts out in a darker minor key only to have a great abrupt shift to an uplifting major key by the end of the piece. Wild Pilgrimage is a piece laden with influences of English Romanticism, and while it starts from the perspective of the track Earthlight from "Seven," its title indicates that it is a longer-form piece, with more detail than its distant cousin from "Seven." The Oracle is seemingly the most straightforward melodious piece on the album, but Banks' unique compositional style is apparent in the beginning chord sequence, which invokes beauty and melancholy simultaneously in a manner rarely heard in any genre. City of Gold is the final piece, and one of my preferred on the album, with an excellent string sequence that echoes some of the arrangements Banks made for the film "Lorca and the Outlaws." City of Gold also has the strong drama to make it undoubtedly a "credits rolling" completion to a great album. Each of the song titles reflect a general storyline from beginning to end.
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra are featured on Six, and although they are not as well known as the London Philharmonic featured on Seven, according to Banks, they really were into these compositions and it shows in their excellent performance. Additionally, this orchestra allowed Banks to have more rehearsals to ensure that time would be available for any changes in composition that became apparent once it was played by the full orchestra.
The classical influences are similar to Seven, with the English Romanticism of Vaughan Williams and Elgar as the most prominent, along with Banks' own previous instrumental compositions. Also, one can ascertain the influence of Banks' several film compositions on some of the tracks such as Wild Pilgrimage.
Banks himself again selected artwork from the late Stephan Knapp as he did on "Seven," which is beautiful and appropriate for these pieces, and which provides a striking visual continuity between Banks' two orchestral albums. The modern artistic style of Knapp is a welcome respite from the plethora of classical album covers which invariably have one of the following: a egotistic photo of the composer or performer, a nature photograph, or an ancient painting adorning the cover. Banks' involvement in even this part of the album ensures again that the whole package is complete and uniquely reflective of its composer.
Once again, Tony Banks stands as an exemplary exception to the large amount of mediocre crossovers into classical/orchestral music. One hopes that it is not too soon to wish that "Five" might be on the horizon.
on 2 October 2012
As a huge Tony Banks fan, I would struggle to find anything wrong with any of his music. There are some very nice melodies in this album and it is a really pleasant piece of music to listen to. He has adapted to orchestral music very well. There are certainly parts of it where you can identify the composer's distinctive harmonies, key progressions, and his ability to create a beautiful sound, and I would certainly recommend it. Because of the genre it is, I think it lacks power and emotion slightly (maybe needs a bit more drums and bass). I cannot find the raw emotion that you find in such pieces as ripples, entangled, Island in the darkness, firth of fith, Afterglow etc etc. Just wish Tony would perform live one day - I think he is such a gifted musician and composer.
on 29 March 2012
Well the album arrived this morning and eager to listen to what Tony has been up to recently I'm happy to report that yet again, Mr Banks has delivered another cracking classical album. I'm not going to waffle on and describe each track because everyone hears and interprets music in their own way.
Really nicely written pieces and really well produced. The orchestration is tight and on form as you would expect.
If you are familiar with all of Tony's work, whether it be with Genesis or his past solo work, you will definitely hear some trade mark Banks throughout the album.
If you are a Tony Banks fan or Genesis fan but not really into classical music, give either this album or his previous one 'Seven' a listen, you might be pleasantly surprised.
I look forward to future releases.... But I'm also ever hopeful that he will also work on and release some new prog rock. Please Mr Banks.
on 14 September 2013
Always a very talented rock keyboard player who often displayed his Classical British Upper Middle Class upbringing, Tony Banks has striven hard over the last decade or so to establish himself as a bona fide composer.
' Seven' introduced a number of enchanting and very English themes and 'Six' continues that trend. Pastoral is probably the word I would use.
I agree with others that there is a 'film score' impression, although that maybe because we know he writes those and we are expecting it. It is a quality that pervades a number of other composers who are writing Classical music today.
All in all another string work from a talented composer