Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


A Leaf - Beatles Piano Transcriptions

A Leaf

Short Fantasy on "Give Peace a Chance" (arr. Rzewski)
Hey Jude (arr. I. Okashiro)
Golden Slumbers (arr. Takemitsu)
Michelle (arr. Monk-Feldman)
Yesterday (arr. I. Okashiro)
Aki 2.2 (Magical Mystery Tour) (arr. Sakamoto)
Michel BLOCK

"billet doux"
Chitose Okashiro, piano
Recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NYC, April 12th-13th 2003.
CHÂTEAU C10002 [52.00]


The Beatles, and the fertile song-writing partnership of Lennon and McCartney in particular, influenced certain strands of contemporary composition quite significantly. These ranged from the populist wing, e.g. Ron Goodwin's Beatles Concerto to more serious and even avant-garde areas, e.g. Cuban guitar legend Leo Brouwer and the late, great Toru Takemitsu.

This excellent CD can be seen as continuing in such a tradition; in fact Takemitsu exerts a strong influence over this project as a whole, with performer and several of the arrangers also hailing from Japan. It is bookended by two non-Beatles pieces: McCartney's A Leaf, originally written for piano solo, as recorded here, but previously recorded in orchestral guise on the underrated Working Classical album, and Michel Block's exquisite "billet doux", a birthday gift for the featured pianist Chitose Okashiro in 1999 and recorded here as a tribute to its composer who died the month before this recording was made. These pieces, however, complement naturally and fittingly the material in between.

As well as Takemitsu, whose glowing quotes about this music adorn the booklet, an equally important figure in the genesis of this project is the pianist Aki Takahashi. The latter recorded the Hyper-Beatles CDs in the late 1980s, featuring arrangements of Beatles songs by 47 composers from around the globe. Four of the latter feature here, including Ryuichi Sakamoto's Aki 2.2, named for the pianist herself. The talented ex-Yellow Magic Orchestra man takes Magical Mystery Tour as his starting point and he is already well versed in classical "crossover". His arrangement for piano trio of his main theme for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a film in which he also acted, alongside David Bowie, being a particularly affecting, though by no means sole example. Chitose Okashiro's elder brother Ichizo provides her with Hey Jude and Yesterday and maverick American pianist/composer Frederic Rzewski, whose complete piano works I reviewed earlier this year, is typically compelling in his Short fantasy on "Give Peace A Chance", his take on an early solo Lennon favourite.

Returning to Takemitsu, I sometimes find some of his original compositions rather amorphous and static, beautiful though they are, but he was a composer with his finger firmly on the pulse regarding arrangements of more populist music. Just witness his strangely compelling version of, say, The Londonderry Air, not forgetting the solo guitar arrangements of other Beatles material such as Michelle, Hey Jude and Yesterday, on this disc represented by piano arrangements from different sources. Golden Slumbers is a gorgeous and typically faithful realisation and, like most of this very successful collection, made me return to the originals, also magnificent, so many years down the line. Behind the populism, first rate musical minds and inspirations were at work! A must-have for anyone equally enamoured of the Beatles and contemporary classical music. Highly recommendable as far as this listener is concerned.

Neil Horner


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