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The Beautiful Beatles
George HARRISON (1943 - 2001)
Here Comes the Sun [2:50]
John LENNON (1940 - 1980) & Paul McCARTNEY (b. 1942)
Norwegian Wood [4:40]
A Day in the Life* [3:50]
Julie [3:33]
Mother Nature’s Son [4:01]
Dear Prudence [4:41]
Across the Universe [4:09]
Blackbird [3:12]
Hello, Goodbye* [4:29]
Here, There and Everywhere [2:38]
Fool on the Hill [4:10]
I Will [1:47]
Let It Be [5:07]
For No One [3:52]
Yesterday [5:11]
The Aureole Trio (Laura Gilbert (flute), Mary Hammann (viola), Stacey Shames (harp))
* Gil Goldstein (accordion)
rec. April 2008, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
Experience Classicsonline

I have admitted before on this site that I very often prefer covers of Beatles’ songs to the originals - and very often purely instrumental versions. The combination of instruments here is rather unusual: flute, viola and harp. The flute can be mellow as well as brilliant. The viola is the mellowest instrument in the string instrument family and the harp has softer edges than a piano, but is more dynamic than an acoustic guitar.

Some years ago I reviewed a disc entitled Beatles for Harp (see review), transcribed and played by Jim Palmer. That’s a disc I have frequently returned to and enjoyed greatly. The Aureole Trio offer more variation with their combination of instruments and this collection will probably be an even more frequent visitor to my CD player. Like Jim Palmer they have chosen, in the main, lesser-known songs - the exception being the ubiquitous Yesterday - but there is very little overlapping between the two discs.

Generally the arrangements are lovely and the playing is sensitive throughout. The flute and the viola blend beautifully. Very often the flute is played in the upper part of its register while the viola more often than not plays within the lowest reaches, producing a cello-like tone. In two pieces, A Day in the Life and Hello, Goodbye an accordion is added, rather discreetly, to give more depth to the sound.

The first song, George Harrison’s only contribution, Here Comes the Sun, is a truly lovely melody and a splendid appetizer. Looking up the review of Jim Palmer’s disc I saw that it was one of the highlights there too. Norwegian Wood is atmospheric and here the flautist employs the so called Flatterzunge technique, producing a buzzing sound through rapid movements of the point of the tongue.

In Blackbird, the flautist, naturally enough, produces some birds’ trills and also embellishes the melody - not only in this piece, by the way. The final bars are a quotation from Obladi, oblada.

Let it be, the title song from the last issued album by The Beatles, begins like Pachelbel’s famous Canon and is to my mind one of the best numbers on this disc. Yesterday, on the other hand, is so heavily embellished that the simple beauty of the melody is more or less lost. This is however the only departure from the high standards that permeate the disc - and as so often in assessing music this is more a matter of personal taste than actuality.

This is a disc that is eminently suitable for concentrated chamber music listening but at the same time excellent ‘music for relaxation’ - a musical function that shouldn’t be frowned upon.

The recording can’t be faulted with excellent balance between the instruments.

Göran Forsling



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