Classical CD Reviews

John Bayless, piano – Circle of Life – The Music of Elton John in the Style of Bach – Angel

Bayless is a specialist at giving popular themes a Baroque improvisational twist.

Published on June 3, 2008

John Bayless, piano – Circle of Life – The Music of Elton John in the Style of Bach – Angel
John Bayless, piano – Circle of Life – The Music of Elton John in the Style of Bach – Angel 7243 5 34970 2 6, 57;24 ****:

Pianist Bayless’ first album in which he gave a Baroque treatment to various musical themes was Bach Meets the Beatles of 1985.  In the meantime he has done similar albums on Puccini, classical movie themes, and other subjects.  These are well-honed improvisations based on the original themes, but often bringing in quotes from well-known works by the older composer.  In this CD one can pick out Bach’s Air on the G String, themes from the third and fifth Brandenburg Concertos and a Bach Prelude.

Not being a huge Elton John fan I’m afraid I was only familiar with four of five of the 13 songs improvised upon in this album.  But that didn’t really make the others any less listenable.  Some of them delve quite heavily into Bachian counterpoint.  Tiny Dancer, for example, is almost complete Bach, with 16th notes running all over the keyboard. Candle in the Wind is John’s best-known song and its sentiments are supported with a sorrowful Bach chorale that seems to fit with the pop song amazingly well.

The recording was made in the super-quiet studio of Skywalker Sound in Marin County, CA, and the sonic quality of Bayless’ Steinway is rich and varied. You wouldn’t of course be hearing the low noise floor in your car, but I would think this CD would be perfect driving music.

TrackList:
1. Circle of Life
2. Your Song
3. Tiny Dancer
4. Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
5. Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word
6. Believe
7. Daniel
8. Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
9. The One
10. Crocodile Rock
11. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)
12. Candle In the Wind
13. The Last Song

 - John Henry
 




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