Paul Schwartz

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Revolution Review

by Bruce Eder

Attempts to reinterpret and arrange the Beatles' music in classical form go back at least to 1965, when Joshua Rifkin did his Baroque Beatles Book. Paul Schwartz's 1998 album Revolution is worlds away from Bach, Handel, and Purcell in its inspiration, influenced instead by 20th century post-romantic figures such as Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten, the expressionist Erik Satie (especially on "Across the Universe"), impressionist composer Frederick Delius ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps"), and even echoes of Stephen Sondheim (on "I Will"). Working with no more than 18 musicians (including eight string players), the sounds are sweet and sublime rather than jarring, but bold in their quiet way, as pianist/arranger Schwartz explores the melodic and harmonic possibilities of the Beatles' music in myriad forms, beginning with the string trio and working outward from there to chamber orchestra dimensions, with winds and reeds beautifully and sparingly represented. In contrast to Joshua Rifkin's album or such late-'70s works as Fracois Glorieux Plays the Beatles, Schwartz's work isn't as openly jocular -- it can be taken seriously and heard as music that stands up on its own terms, and not just as an intriguing take on the Beatles.

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