Wakeman, Rick - Classical Variations

Year of Release: 2002
Label: President
Catalog Number: RWCD 36
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:29:00

Rick Wakeman. The very mention of the name will either leave people in astonished gasps of reverential respect or send them into an ill-conceived burst of snickering and stifled laughs. This is the man that recorded what many consider the best material of Yes ever, the man that was seen countless times wearing glitzy capes on stage, the man whose blond hair swayed to and fro in ecstatic pulses of keyboard passion, and the man whom critics loved to write off as ridiculously pretentious. He may very well be one of the most adequate symbols of what progressive rock once used to be, and no one, whether friend or foe, can dare challenge his status as an unshakable foundation of the genre.

And it is thus that it happened, just like it had to. Wakeman has decided to release a solo piano album concentrating on a collection of variations of his own device for such classical music luminaries as Beethoven, H?ndel, Saint-Saëns, and Dvorák. Yet another undeniable open target for those who have permanently added him to their black list, but for those with fairness and good will in their heart, a beautiful and touching statement from a musician who humbly concedes that "it is the strength and musicality of the original compositions that enables such an exercise to be undertaken."

The question remaining, of course, is whether Classical Variations should be reviewed from a classical music perspective or not. And it is a fundamental question, as the results vary depending on how Wakeman's efforts are considered and the musical knowledge and tastes of the listener. And perhaps being all too brash and brazen, one must immediately acknowledge the fact that classical music purists will almost surely find this record not worth their time when there are gorgeously vivid renditions of the original classics by pianists of the highest stature, such as Vladimir Horowitz, Daniel Barenboim, and Ivo Pogorelich. The mere fact that Wakeman's variation of the "Pathétique" sonata only includes its second movement will surely irk Beethoven aficionados enough to stay away, for instance.

But seen through more forgiving or less purist eyes, Classical Variations is a velvet display of Wakeman's unique, respectful, and emotional interpretations of the classics that confers them a relatively more accessible nature and removes some of their imposing drama and seriousness in order to grant them a different nature of peacefulness. And although the variations seem to drown the regal majesty of Händel and leave his pristine clarity confounded, they work like a charm with Romantic pieces, which constitute the vast majority of Classical Variations. Particularly on Beethoven's "Pathétique," Mendelssohn's "O, For The Wings Of A Dove," Fauré's "Pavane," and the surging E minor passage of "Variations On The New World Symphony," Wakeman's gentility adorns the pieces with a certain whimsical prettiness that is quite intimate and personal, as if the listener were exposed to the reactions of Wakeman's heart to such pieces.

Perhaps the most adequate listener for Classical Variations is one with a marginal or relatively amateurish interest in classical music, one who wishes to hear how one of progressive rock's preeminent keyboardists treats such timeless works, or one for whom classical music seems too distant and eloquent. Wakeman's faultless style does indeed express its intentions with undeniable skill and fluidity, but it is unfortunately lacking of the heightened sense of power and precision that the best classical interpreters rely on and thus is, as already mentioned, best considered as the work of a man honoring some of his most beloved composers than that of a pianist aspiring to join the ranks of the world's most distinguished. Again, however, do not mistake this for lack of emotion or prowess, as Wakeman certainly does not lack them and the listener who is relatively inexperienced in the world of classical music will surely find great pleasure in listening to this album. As for Wakeman fanatics...well, there's really no need to tell you that you have to get this as soon as possible, is there?

Simliar Artists: Keith Emerson, Rudolf Buchbinder, Daniel Barenboim, Ivo Pogorelich

Pathétique (Beethoven) (6:22) / Meditation (Massenet) (4:42) / O, My Beloved Father (Puccini) (5:31) / O, For The Wings Of A Dove (Mendelssohn) (4:18) / Pavane (Fauré) (6:56) / Berceuse (Fauré) (4:42) / Largo (Händel) (3:04) / The Swan (Saint-Saéns) (4:25) / Where'er You Walk (Händel) (6:15) / Variations On The New World Symphony (Dvorak) (10:14)

Rick Wakeman - piano

Piano Vibrations (1971)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973)
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974)
Lisztomania (1975)
The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur & The Knights Of The Round Table (1975)
No Earthly Connection (1976)
Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (1977)
White Rock (1977)
Animal Showdown (1979)
Rhapsodies (1979)
I'm So Straight I'm A Weirdo (1980)
1984 (1981)
The Burning (OST) (1981)
Rock N Roll Prophet (1982)
Cost Of Living (1983)
G'ole! (1983)
Crimes Of Passion (OST) (1984)
Live At Hammersmith (1985)
Lytton's Diary (1985)
Silent Nights (1985)
Country Airs (1986)
The Family Album (1987)
The Gospels (1987)
20th Anniversary Limited Edition (1988)
A Suite Of Gods (1988)
Custer's Last Stand/Ocean City (1988)
Time Machine (1988)
Zodiaque (1988)
Black Knights At The Court Of Ferdinand IV (1989)
Sea Airs (1989)
Phantom Power (1990)
In The Beginning (1990)
Night Airs (1990)
Phantom Power (1990)
2000AD Into The Future (1991)
African Bach (1991)
Aspirant Sunrise (1991)
Aspirant Sunset (1991)
Aspirant Sunshadows (1991)
Rock N Roll Prophet Plus (1991)
Softsword (1991)
The Classical Connection (1991)
Best Works Collection (1992)
Country Airs (1992)
Classic Tracks (1993)
No Expense Spared (1993)
Prayers (1993)
The Classical Connection 2 (1993)
The Heritage Suite (1993)
Unleashing The Tethered One - The 1974 North American Tour (1993)
Wakeman With Wakeman (1993)
Light Up The Sky (1994)
Live On The Test (1994)
Lure Of The Wild (1994)
Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits (1994)
The Stage Collection (1994)
Wakeman With Wakeman - The Official Bootleg (1994)
Wakeman With Wakeman Live (1994)
Almost Live In Europe (1995)
Cirque Surreal (1995)
Rick Wakeman In Concert (1995)
Rock & Pop Legends (1995)
Romance Of The Victorian Age (1995)
The Piano Album (1995)
The Private Collection (1995)
The Seven Wonders Of The World (1995)
Visions (1995)
Can You Hear Me? (1996)
Fields Of Green (1996)
Orisons (1996)
Tapestries (1996)
The New Gospels (1996)
The Word And Music (1996)
Vignettes (1996)
Voyage (1996)
Welcome A Star (1996)
Fields Of Green '97 (1997)
Simply Acoustic - The Music (1997)
Tribute (1997)
Master Series (1998)
Themes (1998)
Official Live Bootleg (1999)
Return To The Centre Of The Earth (1999)
Stella Bianca Alla Corte De Re Ferdinando (1999)
The Masters (1999)
The Natural World Trilogy (1999)
White Rock II (1999)
Christmas Variations (2000)
Chronicles Of Man (2000)
Morning Has Broken (2000)
Preludes To A Century (2000)
Recollections - The Very Best Of Rick Wakeman (2000)
Rick Wakeman The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (2000)
The Caped Collection (2000)
Classical Variations (2001/2002)
Simply Acoustic (2001)
Out Of The Blue (2001)
Two Sides Of Yes (2001/2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 1 - The Real Lizstomania (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 2 - The Oscar Concert (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 3 - The Missing Half (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 4 - Almost Classical (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 5 - The Mixture (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 6 - Medium Rare (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 7 - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 8 - Stories (2002)
Two Sides Of Yes - Volume II (2002)
Wakeman & Cousins -Hummingbird (2002)
Out There (2003)
Retro (2006)
Retro 2 (2007)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live At Hampton Court Palace (2009)
Always With You (2010)
Past, Present, and Future (2010)
Anderson/Wakeman - The Living Tree (2010)
In The Nick Of Time-Live In 2003 (2012)

Journey To The Center Of The Earth Live In 1975 (2001/2002) (DVD)
Rick Wakeman The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (DVD) (2001/2002)
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble - Live In Buenos Aires (DVD) (2001/2002)
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble - Out There (DVD) (2004)
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth Live In 1975 - 30th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Made In Cuba (DVD) (2005)
Amazing Grace (DVD) (2007)
The Other Side Of Rick Wakeman (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 1 - 1975 Live At Empire Pool, King Arthur On Ice (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 2 - Live At The Maltings 1976 (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 3 - Live 1980 Swedish Television Special (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 4 - 1984 Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1981 (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 5 - Night Music (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 6 - Rarities Plus Interview (DVD) (2007)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live At Hampton Court Palace (DVD/BR) (2009)
Classical Wakeman Volume 1 - Live In Lugano (2010)

Genre: Other

Origin UK

Added: May 18th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.rwcc.com
Hits: 440
Language: english


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