December 02, 2011
In playing songs by Radiohead and Arcade Fire alongside arrangements of pieces by classical composers, Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley aren’t just making an eclectic recording of covers. This 2-CD set — each CD represents one genre — melds approachability and complexity. The classical pieces tend to have dance or folk roots (Bernard Herrmann’s “Vertigo Suite” has its own cinematic hook) and the pop songs are mostly richly textured.
Shuffle mode does work well for the set — an Astor Piazzolla tango and Blonde Redhead’s “Misery is a Butterfly,” for example, seem to pair off naturally. Haimovitz displays a dazzling array of tone colors, bends pitches and covers an enormous range as he replaces the voices of instantly recognizable performers. In A Perfect Circle’s “3 Libras,” one of the more unusual selections in its straightforwardness, he admirably captures the singer’s tension as the melody rises.
O’Riley’s arrangements make the most of details: Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” sounds like a new piece that never had vocals. And between his playing and Haimovitz’s, even Stravinsky’s backward-looking Suite Italienne sounds edgy.
by Ronni Reich
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