KASHIF The Genesis Suite
Lightsong Media LMGRCD1
Eight years ago, Tolga Kashif hit the headlines with his Queen Symphony (EMI) – an orchestral epic built around songs by the eponymous rock band. Now comes The Genesis Suite, a 73-minute traversal through the music of a group noted for touching on hardly less wide a range of stylistic bases.
The first movement combines ‘Land of Confusion’ with ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ (both taken from 1986’s Invisible Touch) in a steadily building curve of intensity, with London Voices adding an ominous overlay redolent of Carl Orff. The second movement focuses on ‘Ripples’ (from 1976’s A Trick of the Tail), whose sensuous realization is enhanced by stylish passage-work from pianist Freddy Kempf, though the third movement transforms ‘Mad Mad Moon’ (from the same album) into a ‘Concertante for Violin and Orchestra’ that even the London Symphony Orchestra’s leader Tomo Keller cannot quite sustain over its languorous 17 minutes.
Much more cohesive is the fourth movement, which utilizes ‘Follow You Follow Me’ (from 1978’s And Then There Were Three) in a deft intermezzo that features a plaintive contribution from cellist Caroline Dale, while its successor diffuses ‘Fading Lights’ (from 1991’s We Can’t Dance) across what is undoubtedly the most imaginative reworking to be heard here. The sixth movement then finds Kempf allotted a ruminative solo paraphrase on ‘Entangled’ (from A Trick of theTail), before the finale sees the return of London Voices for a heady conflation of ‘Undertow’ (from And Then There Were Three) and ‘Blood on the Rooftops’ (from 1977’s Wind and Wuthering) that amasses a fair momentum before ending in expansive repose.
Ultimately, the transformation that Kashif has worked on this material is less effective than that for Queen – Genesis’ music being more developed and thus more ‘complete’ in terms of scoring, from the outset, leaving any subsequent arranger with less formal and expressive room to manoeuvre. That said, the playing of the London Symphony Orchestra (whose involvement with ‘Classic Rock’ goes back to the origins of the genre in the late 1960s) is in the luxury class, as is the recorded sound for this first release on Kashif’s own Lightsong Media Group label. Anyone who is interested in the coming together of ‘prog’ and ‘classical’ will find The Genesis Suite rarely less than enjoyable.