Brno Philharmonic Orchestra / Leos Svarovsky / Hayden Wayne

Hayden Wayne: Symphony No. 2 Reggae

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Fans of Bob Marley and Marcia Griffiths might wonder, upon seeing a title like Symphony No. 2, "Reggae," how symphonic orchestral music might be combined with the light drum-and-guitar rhythmic cycles of the often spiritually oriented Jamaican popular style. Any two kinds of music can in principle be combined, just as any two people can in principle find a way to communicate, but in the case of a music resting on specific rhythms (or "riddims," if you will) that carry their own meanings, fusion is a tall order. This work by American composer Hayden Wayne doesn't really accomplish it. Wayne's style is late-Romantic at its root, and he makes use of the full complement of players of Slovakia's State Philharmonic of Brno (are there Slovak Rastafarians?). The reggae component of the score consists of rhythmic ostinatos that come and go, with the orchestra's percussion section taking the off-beat accents of reggae's rhythmic cycles. However, the score as a whole doesn't really suggest the moods -- mystical, angry, exhortatory, and celebratory -- of reggae songs. Instead the stage is filled with large theatrical gestures and massive orchestral climaxes, all pretty foreign to reggae's spirit. Before committing money to this CD, try this experiment: find a reggae-loving friend who will listen to samples and try to guess the tradition referred to in the music. It is likely that he or she will fail.

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