Phillips, Anthony - Soire? (Private Parts & Pieces X)

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Blueprint
Catalog Number: BP319CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:02:00

The tenth and latest installment in the Private Parts & Pieces (PP&P) series comes twenty years after the initial album was given away, as a bonus record, with first 5000 copies of Ant's electric rock Sides. The complete and somewhat eventful history of this acoustic and quintessentially English sequence of releases will hopefully appear on this site soon, but until then Soireé (PP&P X) deserves a closer look.

Anthony Phillips is known to the vast majority of Prog fans as the guitarist in the initial incarnation of fallen idols Genesis. As such it might come as somewhat of a surprise to learn that Soireé is in fact an album of twenty pieces for solo piano. Since leaving his early band, Ant has become a master of this instrument as well as the acoustic guitar, playing both with equal technical ability, sensitivity and passion. These three factors are the things that most define this album, and for the most part define the entire PP&P series. Certainly Ant's recent piano output has raised a few eyebrows within the Genesis fan community, prompting questions as to why the band's resident Keyboard God Tony Banks is unable or unwilling to release an album of this quality.

All the pieces on Soireé are recently composed, with the exception of "Creation" which dates back to 1968 and the founding days of Genesis. The version on this album is of course re-recorded for the sake of quality, but it is nevertheless remarkable that Ant was able to compose this interesting and accomplished piece when he as still a Charterhouse schoolboy.

"Sad Ballerina" opens the album, the title perfectly catching the mood of the track. It is gentle, graceful, flowing, and inevitably melancholic, as too is much of the album. However it remains on the side of blue instead of black: reflection and nostalgia instead of downright depression.

Ant's touch at the keyboards is always controlled, sometimes delicate as in "After You Left," sometimes stately and mournful as in "Sultry Leaves," and at times frenzied such as in the excellent "Passepied." As per usual, Ant steers clear of grandiose self-indulgence: crashing chords and lightening runs are used sparingly and when necessary, instead of flooding the whole recording and rendering it a collection of flashy but emotionless technical exercises.

The surreal touches, which mark most of the PP&P albums, can also be found on Soireé. He promises solo piano pieces but never promises which way round they are going to be - hence "Obezag," a backwards version of the track "Gazebo." He likes his quirky fun, does Mr. Phillips!

"Fallen Flower" is dedicated to the memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales - it is a simple and stirring melody given additional depth by the dedication. Thankfully it avoids the inflated hyperbole that horribly infected many well-meaning pieces of art (musical, written and visual) in the wake of her death in Paris. And a special mention must go to the thunderous "Rain Suite" - six minutes of heavy turbulence, and as evocative as the title suggests.

Soireé is not a Progressive album in the conventional sense, but a sophisticated and tasteful piano album that has all the technical skill, adventure, originality, and flair that I personally love in Prog. It also has taste, restraint, and a beautiful cover painting by Brenda Brooks. Progressive? Neo-classical? Who cares? Anthony Phillips has come a long long way since One Eyed Hound!
Sad Ballerina (3:30) / Final Lights (1:49) / Sultry Leaves (2:49) / Fivers (1:35) / Creation (4:20) / Keepsake (1:49) / Venetian Mystery (1:57) / Scythia (4:30) / Cantilena (2:19) / The Oregon Trail (2:46) / Passacaglia (2:49) / Gazebo (1:10) / Passepied (2:57) / Fallen Flower (2:04) / Noblesse Oblige (2:11) / Hope Of Ages (3:37) / Obezag (1:02) / Rain Suite (6:01) / After You Left (3:11) / Summer's Journey (6:34)

Anthony Phillips - piano

The Geese & the Ghost (1977/1990)
Wise After The Event (1978/1991)
Sides (1979/1990)
Private Parts & Pieces (1979/1991/1995)
Private Parts & Pieces 2 - Back To The Pavilion (1980/1991/1996)
1984 (1981/1991)
Private Parts & Pieces 3 - Antiques (1982/1993/1996)
Invisible Men (1984/1991/1996) Private Parts & Pieces 4 - A Catch At The Tables (1984/1991/1996)
Private Parts & Pieces 5 - Twelve (1984/1991/1996)
Harvest Of The Heart (1985)
Double Exposure (1986)
Private Parts & Pieces 6 - Ivory Moon (1986/1991/1996)
Private Parts & Pieces 7 - Slow Waves, Soft Stars (1987/1991/1996)
Tarka (w/Harry Williamson) (1988/1996)
Slow Dance (1990/1996)
Missing Links Vol.1 - Finger Painting (1992/1996)
Private Parts & Pieces 8 - New England (1992/1996)
Sail The World (1994)
Missing Link Vol. 2 - The Sky Road (1994)
Gypsy Suite (w/Williamson) (1995)
The Living Room Concert (1995)
Private Parts & Pieces 9 - Dragonfly Dreams (1996)
The Meadows Of Englewood (w/Guillermo Cazenave) (1997)
Survival - The Music of Nature (1997)
Missing Links Vol 3 - Time & Tide (w/Joji Hirota) (1997)
The Live Radio Sessions (w/Cazenave) (1998)
The Archive Collection Vol 1 (1998)
Soire? (Private Parts and Pieces X) (1999)
Radio Clyde (2003)
The Archive Collection Vol 2 (2004)
Field Day (2005)

Genre: Other

Origin UK

Added: March 1st 2000
Reviewer: Tony Emmerson

Artist website:
Hits: 976
Language: english


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