I've never been a huge fan of classical music, mainly because I never properly understood it or took the time to listen. After seeing James Rhodes perform at Latitude Festival this year, I suddenly realised what I was missing out on. I decided to buy this particular album because I loved his track introductions - they're witty, thought-provoking and usually reveal unexpected information about the composers. This album manages to capture these, as well as his brilliant (in my opinion anyway) playing. I love his renditions of Chopin and Schumann - they manage to calm me and make me so happy listening to them.
I love this CD as I love James Rhodes. I think he is a marvellous pianist and comes across as a very sensitive human being in spite of the graphic language he uses!! I am in my sixties so do not feel I can play parts of it to a lot of my friends however I bought this CD for myself so that is all that matters.
James Rhodes's first live album captures everything that is special about his gigs - apart from the visuals of course. In life, he is a slight figure and you wonder how he can produce such colossal music; here instead we get the packaging, all black & white and retro - anyone who smokes a cigarette in black & white is instantly retro and cool. This is beat poet chic.
But James Rhodes is very forward thinking in his approach to music - his direct addresses to the audience fall somewhere between lecture, infomercial, stand-up comedy and album liner note causerie. He is an engaging speaker and casual swearer, saving all his passion for the pieces.
And it is the music that remains the star. Introduced with juicy, gossipy, biographical information, the composers featured here are presented at their best. Even though he's seated at a piano, James plays second fiddle to the men who created these sublime pieces of music.
All human life is here. The full gamut of human emotion - apart from disgust and ennui. The first disc is dominated by Beethoven's mighty Waldstein sonata - worth putting your hand in your pocket for that alone - but my personal favourite is the Chopin on Disc Two. "In The Hall of the Mountain King" is perhaps the only track that loses something in not being visual - seeing Jim's hands disappear into a blur of frenetic activity is a wonder to behold.
Sit back in a darkened room and let Jimmy share with you an evening of beauty. The finest music presented in an entertaining manner, this is an album that reaffirms James Rhodes as one of the most exciting crusaders for classical music on the scene today. Oh, and he plays like a dream, too!
As always, James does not disappoint with this new album. Sometimes have to turn the volume up as when he speaks it is quieter. You can feel the atmosphere of the live performance almost as if you were part of the audience. Close your eyes and you can picture James playing in his unique style. Feels almost like a personal performance for you alone. Even if you are not keen on classical music I think you would still find it a good listen.
James never fails to deliver and today we received his long awaited 4th album to add to the collection. Once again he performs this recital in his own inimitable style and with his exciting and enthusiastic interpretation of the classics. We are left enthralled and amazed by his beautiful, passionate and moving genius.