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Perpetual Motion
     

Perpetual Motion

5.0 2
by Béla Fleck
 
Banjo player Béla Fleck has traveled all over the musical map, having explored jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, and world music. Now he adds classical music to his itinerary with Perpetual Motion, an album that's as fresh and fun as it is serious and sublime. First of all, Fleck's virtuosity is a marvel. The banjo isn't

Overview

Banjo player Béla Fleck has traveled all over the musical map, having explored jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, and world music. Now he adds classical music to his itinerary with Perpetual Motion, an album that's as fresh and fun as it is serious and sublime. First of all, Fleck's virtuosity is a marvel. The banjo isn't the easiest instrument to get around, but Fleck tosses off the quick, slithering tune of the title track (adapted from a violin showpiece by Paganini) with breathtaking dexterity. At least part of the album's success, though, is due to the clever arrangements. In an excerpt from Debussy's Children's Corner, violinist Joshua Bell plays the melody as Fleck takes on the busily rippling accompaniment -- a beautiful effect. Bell performs on a number of tracks, and in fact the roster of guest artists could be considered an all-star band, including Edgar Meyer (bass and piano), John Williams (guitar), Evelyn Glennie (marimba), Gary Hoffman (cello), and Chris Thile (mandolin). The combination of instruments changes with every track, providing a wide variety of sounds and textures and revealing new aspects of familiar pieces. The mix of banjo, mandolin, and bass in a Bach Three-part Invention, for example, gives the music a jazzy, swinging feel, while the pairing of banjo and marimba in a Bach Allegro creates a thrillingly tactile sonority. A bluegrass version of Paganini's "Perpetual Motion," played as an encore, shows that as far as Fleck is concerned, just about any kind of music is ripe for the pickin'.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Zac Johnson
Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck has certainly broken more boundaries than any other picker in recent memory, from his early days performing bluegrass-inspired folk compositions on Rounder in the late '70s to his quirky jazz freak-outs with the Flecktones throughout the '90s. In late 2001, this peculiar innovator released an album of banjo interpretations of classical works by Bach, Chopin, and Scarlatti. Before classical purists roll their eyes, they must remember that the banjo hasn't always been seen as the instrument of choice of backwoods musicians in the Appalachian mountains, but as recently as the 1940s was used as a primary rhythm instrument in all manner of parlor music. That being said, Perpetual Motion is a bright and unique take on several well-known classical pieces ("Moonlight Sonata," Bach's "Cello Suite No. 1") as well as a number of interpretations of Bach's two-part and three-part inventions. These light and brief inventions act as buffers between the longer, more dramatic pieces, but end up serving as some of the highlights of the album. With Fleck often accompanied by Evelyn Glennie on marimba and Appalachia Waltz musicians Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer on violin and bass, these short, delicate pieces weave in and out of the album, proving that the banjo can be seen in a different light altogether. Fleck's picking is uniquely unparalleled in that he can so easily dip his feet into so many different genres with an instrument that is so quickly pigeonholed. The album drifts easily into the background, which is not necessarily a detraction but, knowing the fire that Fleck can unleash from his fingertips, it would have been nice to have a few more impassioned numbers on the album. The closest the ensemble comes to really making some noise is the final track, Paganini's "Moto Perpetuo" (arranged in a bluegrass style), which is not necessarily more forceful, but is certainly faster and louder.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/02/2001
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0696998961029
catalogNumber:
89610
Rank:
64213

Tracks

  1. Sonata for keyboard in C major, K. 159 (L. 104) "La caccia" - arranged for banjo & mandolin
  2. Two part invention for keyboard No. 13 in A minor, BWV 784
  3. Children's Corner, suite for piano (or orchestra), L. 113: Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
  4. Mazurka for piano No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 59/3, CT 88
  5. Partita for solo violin No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006: Prelude - arranged for banjo
  6. Etude for piano in C sharp minor, Op. 10/4, CT. 17
  7. Mazurka for piano No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 6/1, CT 51
  8. Three-Part Invention (Sinfonia) for keyboard No. 10 in G major, BWV 796 - arranged for banjo, mandolin & bass
  9. Souvenir d'un lieu cher, for violin & piano (or orchestra), Op. 42: Melody in E flat major - arranged for banjo & piano
  10. Studies (5) for piano, Anh. 1a/1: Presto No. 1 in G minor after Bach
  11. Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007: Prelude - arranged for banjo
  12. Three-Part Invention (Sinfonia) for keyboard No. 15 in B minor, BWV 801 - arranged for banjo, violin & marimba
  13. Allegro vivace a movimento perpetuo in C major for violin & guitar (or orchestra), Op. 11 (MS72) - arranged for banjo & piano
  14. Sonata for keyboard in D minor, K. 213 (L. 108) "The Lover" - arranged for banjo & mandolin
  15. Two part invention for keyboard No. 6 in E major, BWV777 - arranged for banjo & bass
  16. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27/2: Adagio sostenuto - arranged for banjo, cello & bass
  17. Two part invention for keyboard No. 11 in G minor, BWV782 - arranged for banjo & marimba
  18. Variations for piano in C major on "God Save the King," WoO 78 - arranged for banjo & guitar
  19. Three-Part Invention (Sinfonia) for keyboard No. 7 in E minor, BWV 793 - arranged for banjo, violin & bass
  20. Allegro vivace a movimento perpetuo in C major for violin & guitar (or orchestra), Op. 11 (MS72): Bluegrass Version for banjo & guitar

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Bach, Beethoven, Paganini and others 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was soooo happy to come upon this cd! I have other cd's by Bela Fleck but this classical voyage really shows what a diverse and talented musician can do with any type of music. He's technically a great musician to listen to but also, his arrangements of such famous works are simply innovative and inspiring. I think both classical enthusiasts and Bela lovers will both be pleased.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marvelously innovative and varied.  Particularly impressed  with the bluegrass Paganini!  Fleck can do any style!!