Classical Brubeck

Classical Brubeck

by Dave Brubeck

Best known for his seminal jazz recordings in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dave Brubeck is also an accomplished composer of concert music. This two-disc set, recorded during an intense series of sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra and a pair of English choirs, focuses on sacred works: the dramatic Easter oratorio, BelovedSee more details below


Best known for his seminal jazz recordings in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dave Brubeck is also an accomplished composer of concert music. This two-disc set, recorded during an intense series of sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra and a pair of English choirs, focuses on sacred works: the dramatic Easter oratorio, Beloved Son; a series of characterful variations on the Gregorian chant "Pangue lingua"; The Voice of the Holy Spirit: Tongues of Fire, a vivid retelling of the story of Pentecost; and, finally, Regret, an elegiac, lyrical meditation for string orchestra. While the style of all four compositions is firmly in the classical tradition, each features an improvisatory interlude where Brubeck (as pianist) and his quartet provide jazz-inflected commentary. The immediate appeal of Brubeck's music should come as no surprise to those familiar with his memorable jazz tunes, such as "Take Five" and "Kathy's Waltz." But these works go deeper than mere surface charm, and even in an intimate setting such as Regret, the effect is powerfully expressive. While off the beaten path for Brubeck -- and, indeed, classical fans -- it's a path well worth exploring, particularly given that the performances are superb and vibrantly recorded by Telarc's expert engineers.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard S. Ginell
This double-disc set is a determined effort to clear the shelf and record as much of Dave Brubeck's classical output as possible while the composer was still around to participate and guide the performers' hands. The project was done in only four sessions at London's Abbey Road Studios without the benefit of tuneup concerts; conductor Russell Gloyd says that the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices were practically sight-reading throughout. As such, it's a miracle that these performances turned out as well as they did -- or perhaps not, since Gloyd is Brubeck's chosen interpreter (and manager) and these busy London professionals are used to mastering new material quickly. Almost all of the set is taken up by three big sacred choral compositions, which for all of their rampant eclecticism bear the same unmistakable stamp of Brubeck's harmonic signatures and all-embracing personality. "Beloved Son" (1978), an Easter oratorio, has choral passages that might have been inspired by those in J.S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" -- which is roughly about the same subject -- but also some militancy, a free-form episode from the Dave Brubeck Quartet (which they never do when playing jazz in concert), and a rocking gospel workout on the concluding "He Is Risen." "The Pange Lingua Variations" (1983) is a somewhat more diffuse work based on Gregorian chants, but here you can hear the variations principle at work throughout the score, especially when the quartet comments on the material. Archaic-sounding passages abound -- the dreaded parallel fourths and fifths that composition teachers warn against, another example of Brubeck breaking the rules of choral writing for his own expressive purposes. "Voice of the Holy Spirit" (1985) is the longest of the pieces here, about 52 minutes, and again Brubeck doesn't let anything inhibit his choice of idiom -- a Latin-ish break for the quartet, a gaudy conclusion to "Be Strong in the Lord," even a universal children's taunt as the basis of "When I Was a Child." Finally, as a brief afterleaf, listeners whisk ahead to 2001, where the then-80-year-old composer looks back with unexpected poignancy in "Regret," a lush bittersweet elegy for strings with skillfully wrought counterlines for cellos, capped near the close by a solo from Brubeck in the same vein. Despite his explanation in the booklet ("Perhaps it is an emotion unique to someone who has lived as many decades as I"), one still wonders what moved Brubeck to write this anguished piece, as he seems to have lived an exceptionally fulfilling life. This outpouring of creativity is treated to excellent, spacious Abbey Road SACD sound, deeper than the stereo CD version (which is more brightly lit), with only studio ambience in the rear speakers. And would you believe there is much more unrecorded classical Brubeck on the shelf?

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Product Details

Release Date:


Disc 1

  1. Abba Father  - Dave Brubeck
  2. Eli  - Dave Brubeck
  3. Rabboni  - Dave Brubeck
  4. Pange Lingua  - Dave Brubeck
  5. I. Sing my tongue sing  - Dave Brubeck
  6. Nobis datus  - Dave Brubeck
  7. II. To us is given  - Dave Brubeck
  8. In supremae  - Dave Brubeck
  9. III. Thus on the night  - Dave Brubeck
  10. Verbum caro  - Dave Brubeck
  11. IV. The word made flesh  - Dave Brubeck
  12. Tantum Ergo  - Dave Brubeck
  13. V. Let us bow down  - Dave Brubeck
  14. Brass Chorale  - Dave Brubeck
  15. Meditation  - Dave Brubeck
  16. Bow down (Improvisation)  - Dave Brubeck
  17. Interlude  - Dave Brubeck
  18. VI. Praise to the Father!  - Dave Brubeck

Disc 2

  1. Prelude  - Dave Brubeck
  2. Full Authority  - Dave Brubeck
  3. Witnesses  - Dave Brubeck
  4. Pentecost  - Dave Brubeck
  5. Tongues of Fire  - Dave Brubeck
  6. New Wine  - Dave Brubeck
  7. Peter's Sermon  - Dave Brubeck
  8. Silver and Gold  - Dave Brubeck
  9. Greater Gifts  - Dave Brubeck
  10. Though I Speak with the Tongues  - Dave Brubeck
  11. When I Was a Child  - Dave Brubeck
  12. For Those Who Love God  - Dave Brubeck
  13. Be Strong in the Lord  - Dave Brubeck
  14. Benediction  - Dave Brubeck
  15. Regret, for solo piano & strings  - Dave Brubeck

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dave Brubeck   Primary Artist,Piano
London Symphony Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Michael Moore   Bass
Russell Gloyd   Conductor
Bobby Militello   Flute,Saxophone
Richard Studt   Leader
London Voices   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Dave Brubeck Quartet   Band
Randy Jones   Drums
London Oratory School Schola   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Thomasin Trezise   Soprano (Vocal)
Alan Opie   Baritone (Vocal)
Michael McCarthy   Choir Master
Terry Edwards   Choir Master

Technical Credits

Dave Brubeck   Composer
Robert Woods   Executive Producer
Nick Jones   Liner Notes
Anilda Carrasquillo   Art Direction
Iola Brubeck   Contributor
James Mallinson   Producer
Nick Jones   Liner Notes
Jonathan Allen   Engineer
Nick Jones   Liner Notes

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