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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
10
Alchemy
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 7 March 2013
Clive Nolan's latest offering, "Alchemy", is a fully-fledged musical intended for stage productions. This studio recording of Alchemy is, I must admit, of excellent quality and musicianship. Written entirely by Nolan himself, the story is set in 1842, and involves a quest to stop Jagman - an evil man searching for the secret of the long-deceased alchemist Anzeray. Those who have heard Nolan's earlier work, "She", recorded and performed under the artist name of "Caamora", will know what to expect - for although Alchemy is an actual musical it shares much similarity to Nolan's "She". Progressive rock fans should keep in mind the fact that Alchemy has only limited rock influences present, and should be considered solely as a musical. The performance contains dialogue, which is present upon the recording, and although the acting present in this version is somewhat short of perfect, it does not affect the songs themselves in any way. All of the singers are of a high quality, although some shine more brightly than others - Victoria Bolley is particularly exceptional, obviously a classically trained singer. Even singers already known amongst progressive rock/metal circles, such as Damian Wilson and indeed Nolan himself, here perform even better than usual as singers. For example, Wilson (who appears only briefly) sings in a powerful, low voice, almost operatic in nature, so very different from his usual higher voice, used in Threshold and other projects. All players present, however, including the musicians, are performing to the best of their ability and I am very impressed. Agnieszka Swita, who performed the lead role in "She", returns to play one of the main roles, and sings similarly to her performance in the latter project. Other singers include David Clifford, Tracy Hitchings, Andy Sears, amongst many others. The full cast and plot can be read upon the Alchemy website.

This particular version, which is the only presently available, is in digipak format and spread over two CDs. Disc one contains thirteen tracks, disc two contains fourteen. The total running time is around two hours in duration. The booklet, which is attached within the digipak, presents all of the libretto and dialogue, along with all plot developments. The recording quality of the album is perfect, and typical of Clive Nolan and Karl Groom's productions.

All considered, this is a fine musical from the prog-master Clive Nolan. Even if one has not previously heard his works, musical fans shall greatly admire his writing style, which has similarities to the better works of Lloyd Webber and others in that vein - although understandably more limited in scope than "Phantom of the Opera". Nevertheless, a definite five-star album. Highly recommended.
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on 11 September 2017
I fully support the other reviews posted here, I have enjoyed all of Clive's works so far so as soon as I heard about this I ordered it and must have played it nonstop for weeks. The story is the classic good versus evil and whilst the plot is pretty simple the story telling adds layers and complexity, plenty of threads are started early on only to be brought together later in the piece which keeps the interest levels high even after many listenings; well worth following the story online during initial listening. The musicianship is first rate and some of the multi part harmonies are simply breathtaking. If you are a fan of good music you must give this a try. I enjoyed it so much I also bought the live BluRay version.
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on 9 March 2013
I'm a big fan of Clive Nolan and consider him to be extremely underrated...though not so in prog rock circles. Alchemy is a terrific 2 hours or so of music...with the melodies hitting home on first listening. Yes, the music verges on the camp at times but this is entertainment...in it's purest form...so will not be deducting a point. The cast is terrific. Good to hear Andy Sears as well, and in great voice. Production is clear and immediate but has real depth...so a nice experience on the headphones...thanks Karl Groom. Favourite track? Well, I do like "Quarternary Plan"...which is quite Gilbert and Sullivan-esque but delivered with great aplomb. Did Clive turn base metal into Gold? I think so...
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on 24 July 2013
If you like Prog Rock and don't mind a bit of Musical Theatre, then your going to love this album.
Have played it through a few times and am still finding little bits that I missed before, they are doing a live version of the album latter this year (2013) and have booked tickets to go and see it.
Well done Clive keep up the good work.
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on 11 November 2013
This was the first time I'd heard any of Clive Nolan's music but having read some great reviews I thought I would try it, and I'm so glad I did. It was music that sounded catchy upon the first hearing and the singing and musicianship is of the highest quality. I think it would certainly suit a live stage show and I can only say that if you'd not listened to CN's music before, then give this a try.
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on 19 September 2014
Having seen the live stage show this cd brings back happy memories. With the bits of dialogue it is easy to follow the story. Excellent music and lyrics as always from Mr Nolan.
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on 10 September 2013
I have just seen the world première of this new musical at my local Playhouse Theatre (where I watched the launch of She : The Musical back in 2012), and took home the CD on the strength of one listen. Picking up where his African adventure left off, the remarkably gifted Clive Nolan has created another engrossing rock opera which is little short of a symphonic masterpiece. Featuring strong soloists and a disciplined, harmonious chorus bringing to life a sumptuous score that bristles with nods to 1970s progressive rock, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera. The sum total is a fulsome round of 27 songs imbued with rich melodies and lavish orchestrations that maintain the momentum throughout. There's one song, Quatenary Plan, which I simply cannot get out of my head, Gardelle's haunting tribute to Amelia tugs forcefully at the heartstrings, while her own soaring aria The Girl That I Was would stir any half-decent West End audience. The icy One For The Noose bristles with menace, likewise Lord Jagman's wonderfully sinister The End Justifies The Means. During the brief spoken narratives, one phrase recurs: "There Is More"; as regards further works from the golden pen of Clive Nolan, I certainly hope so.
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on 12 May 2013
Not my usual style of music, but the tracks are very varied in style, so there is something for everyone.
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on 22 March 2013
In English: Magnificent musical from one of Britain's most talented musicians. Expect amazing melodies and top notch singers.

In Swedish: Vi börjar väl med att lägga förväntningsribban på en rimlig nivå: det här är den bästa musikal som skrivits sedan The Phantom of the Opera. Då kör vi!

Clive Nolan albumdebuterade 1986 och förknippas med band som Arena, Pendragon, Shadowland, Strangers on a Train och Nolan & Wakeman. Även om han har gjort sig sitt namn inom progressive rock är detta inte en "rockopera" utan en ren musikal. Nolan själv har skrivit libretto och musik, arrangerat, producerat, och givetvis sjunger han en av huvudrollerna själv samt spelar keyboard. Det är inte förvånande att "Alchemy" tog fyra år från idé till färdig produkt.

Det är dock inte bara Nolans namn som lockar tankarna till den brittiska progressiva scenen:VicNew4_small bland sångarna hittar vi Tracy Hitchings från Landmarq, Damian Wilson från Threshold, David Clifford från Red Jasper, Andy Sears från Twelfth Night, Paul Manzi från Arena och Paul Medel från IQ. Därmed lämnar vi progrockreferenserna.

Till skillnad från många musikaler håller librettot hela vägen: året är 1842 och professor Samuel King (Clive Nolan) söker efter artefakter som gömts av den store alkemisten Thomas Anzeray (Chris Lewis). Lord Jagman (Andy Sears) assisterade först King, men förrådde och sköt honom, och tror att han är död. King räddades dock av Eva Bonaduce (Victoria Bolley) och tillsammans med William Gardelle (David Clifford), börjar de jakten på artefakterna och Jagman. Jagman har dock inte bara förrått King, utan också Amelia Darvas (Agnieszka Swita) som bär på den viktigaste ledtråden. När trion räddar Amelia från att hängas börjar äventyret på allvar.

AgnieszkaVarje musikal med självaktning behöver förstås också en kärlekshistoria, och här finns den mellan Gardelle och Amelia (och den ännu mer smärtsamt outtalade mellan King och Eva). Gissa om den uttrycks i en del känslodramatiska solonummer och duetter?

Duetterna är oerhört snyggt skrivna, men de stycken där Nolan använder en trio och rentav en kvartett och får allas texter att fungera ihop samtidigt, ja, de är fullkomligt magiska. Om man nöjer sig med att en låt skall vara bra eller vacker kan man helt klart njuta av dem utan att gräva ner sig för mycket, men om man gillar att dyka in i smart skrivna stycken är detta en ren extasfest. Lyssna exempelvis på "King Explains" och "Highgate".

"Alchemy" är synnerligen välcastad: det är stor variation på rösterna, men de flesta av Andysångarna har den där musikalnyansen eller en touch av drama utan att tippa över i melodrama. Andy Sears är magnifik i rollen som skurken Jagman: när han får vansinnesutbrott i "Tide of Wealth" eller när han åmar sig för Amelia i "Deception" är det svårt att inte gilla honom trots att han är en bad guy. Victoria Bolley har också en röst som gjord för West End, och på samma sätt som det finns variation i röster finns det stor variation i låtmaterialet. Inte allt är stort och bombastiskt, utan det finns mer jordnära nummer som exempelvis "Desperate Days" (sjungs av Noel Calcaterra) och ett par bitar som viskar om Nolans brittiska operettarv från Gilbert & Sullivan.

Och ja, eftersom detta är 100 % West End är det inte så konstigt att när den stora dramatiken sker i "Overture" och "The Ritual" är det faktiskt helt omöjligt att inte tänka på The Phantom of the Opera. Det rör sig dock inte om något stulet: det är den mäktiga orkesterattacken som flirtar med Andrew Lloyd Webber. Gillar man välskrivna musikaler typ Phantom och Chess blandat med en gnutta Prokofiev-dramatik och ordentligt catchy melodier är "Alchemy" ett givet köp.
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on 4 April 2013
Classic Nolan chic full of great melodies. Superb follow up to She. Looking forward to seeing it performed live on stage. Well done
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