The Piano Guys – The Piano Guys (2012)
The Piano Guys are an American group who found fame through YouTube by posting modern arrangments and mashups of classical music and classical arrangements of pop songs. Intrigued? Well, so was I!
The first thing that strikes me is that this is an incredibly geeky album. Due to the nature of the music played, if you are not au fait with the homages, you are going to have a lesser experience than those who “are in on the joke” as it were.
Sadly, I feel this is true on this album; I don’t particularly listen to contemporary pop music, so I don’t know the originals of a number of these. Some, despite my not knowing them, work in their own respect (Pepone (Paradise) is a take on Coldplay in an African style; Adele’s Rolling In The Deep is a very nice tune), but some I feel that there is something missing on some that would perhaps be there if you knew the track (David Guetta’s Titanium on Titanium/Pavane, and Without You; Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years; One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful; )
Some of the pieces that work really well tend to be those which derive from sources other than pop; the modern arrangements of predominantly classical pieces and the soundtrack pieces. Code Name Vivaldi is a mash up between Vivaldi and music from the Bourne Identity, Beethoven’s 5 Pieces is music from Beethoven’s Fifth with Secrets by OneRepublic. Then there is the fantastically fun Cello Wars, a take on various pieces of Star Wars music, beginning with the Imperial March, followed by Duel Of The Fates, May The Force Be With You, the Main Theme, and the Cantina Band (on accordion; played by Darth Vader in the video). The Cello Song is an arrangement of Bach’s Cello Suite Number 1, which, with added sequenced beat, is quite interesting to listen to, and Bring Him Home is from Les Miserables and quite a beautiful track.
I have to say that I am not opposed to the principle of interchanging music styles; in fact, the move from pop music to different arrangements is where jazz mostly comes from, especially jazz standards in the bebop era, and in reading about them, I learn that it is the videos that matter a lot in these arrangements; however, on the whole I was not inspired by the album, though there are a few gems herein. And, in themselves, those gems are worth seeking out.
Favourite tracks: Cello Wars, Pepone (Paradise), The Cello Song
Spotify link: The Piano Guys – The Piano Guys