In all the photos of David Garrett which adorn this CD, he looks
for all the world like David Beckham. I bet he doesn’t have the
ball control of his famous first namesake, nor will he understand
the offside rule.
starts with a tremolando on guitar, then David plays the famous
habanera – it’s a beautiful tune – with a big vibrato. Then
in comes the rhythm section and he plays the tune again. Then
he plays the tune again with embellishments, over a constant
beat. The Flamenco break which then interrupts the music is
embarrassing, then we return to the tune with twiddly bits.
I cannot imagine why Bizet never thought of this invigorating
arrangement instead of the dull old sung version with solid
It was at this point
that I started to wonder if I was really a bad person. Had this
CD been sent to me so that I could pay some penance for some
dastardly deed done in my earlier life? If I’d had a knife nearby
the thought crossed my mind that cutting my wrists would be
a welcome release.
A banal arrangement
of a banal pop song by Metallica follows and is treated with
more respect that poor old Bizet – probably because Metallica’s
song is still under copyright.
featured in the film Deliverance and it was brilliant
in that context.
want to quote two points from Garrett’s notes to show this whole
pretentious enterprise for what it is. David tells us, a
propos Pachelbel’s Canon, that “The challenge was
to create a new interpretation (this is what performing musicians
do day in, day out, David – talk about stating the very obvious!)
while still basing it on the traditional instrumentation of
harpsichord and lute. So we added an exciting tempo change in
the middle section, to give me an extra virtuoso moment!” He
plays with his vibrato and syrupy sound – quite inappropriate
for the material, of course – then twiddles around for a while
as his accompaniment marks time. I never heard the lute which
was part of the traditional - not original I notice - instrumentation.
David then tells
us that, with regard to Paganini Caprice, “… having created
a wholly new orchestral accompaniment, I felt that something
was missing – the fast paced rhythm of the technically demanding
violin part … needed more emphasis. The guitar and a whole set
of drums now bring to life a wholly different side of Paganini’s
masterpiece.” If only Paganini had thought of this his composition
could have been so much better.
has had better days.
vibrato was, by now, very annoying. So was his simplistic view
of everything he played, which extended into his own compositions.
Just when I got to the end of Eliza’s Song, and knew
in my heart of hearts that I would never need to hear this CD
ever again, there was a “bonus” track – oh, happy day – Monti’s
Czardas reappeared in what was called The Ganas Mix,
which appeared to be a bit of percussion added for rhythmic
effect with something swooning away in the background.
On the British Children’s
TV programme Blue Peter on 28 May 2008 David Garrett
played a version of The Flight of the Bumble Bee in just
1 minute 6.56 seconds, thus becoming the Guinness World of Records
World’s Fastest Violinist. Who cares? It can’t have done anything
to help children appreciate classical music.
truly, is dross. Who is it aimed at? Some, unkind, friends of
mine have suggested listeners to Classic FM, but surely that
radio station plays music as she is writ, even if only parts
of compositions are broadcast. Garrett has recorded Tchaikovsky
and Mozart Concertos – I wonder if he brought his special insights
into music, as he has done here, to those performances? Of course,
it’s easier playing rubbish like this than the Tchaikovsky Concerto.
If you really want to hear a violin used superbly and artistically
within a popular music context, go to YouTube
and listen to David LaFlamme’s magnificent fiddling in White
Bird by It’s A Beautiful Day – seminal late 1960s
hippy-trippy music, perhaps, but real, honest and streets ahead
of this nonsense.