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Countless efforts have been made in the rock & roll era to incorporate classical music into the mainstream. In the 1960s, Wendy Carlos issued the widely popular synthesized Switched-On series. Emerson, Lake & Palmer followed suit in the '70s by incorporating obvious classical themes into their progressive rock sound. The next decade saw Sky receiving the baton from ELP, followed by the likes of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the '90s. While all of those artists cited classical composers as their inspiration, they didn't necessarily appeal to the strict classical aficionado. Soul, by Austria's Mozartband, has the potential of attracting a considerable crossover audience. Spearheaded by accordionist and arranger Wolfgang Staribacher Mozartband is devoted to the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. While retaining much of their original structures, Staribacher has also taken noticeable liberties when arranging these timeless and complex pieces. He's enlisted the services of classically trained vocalists Barbara Karolyi (soprano), Annette Koch (mezzo), and Lynne Kieran (alto) and frequently paired them with pop vocalist Christian Wolf, whose raspy voice conjures up comparisons to Rod Stewart and Michael Bolton. The interaction between the two diametrically opposed types of singers is mesmerizing and bone-chilling. Instrumentally, Staribacher incorporates many of Mozart's favorite instruments like violin, viola, bassoon, and violincello, but couples them with electric keyboards and modern rhythms. "Perche" even utilizes a slight hip-hop rhythm, which in tandem with Kieran's soulful alto and a backing gospel chorus creates a classical/contemporary hybrid likely unheard of in the classical realm. Staribacher's own style of accordion playing lies somewhere between the folk style of the Alps and the more refined Viennese approach. Signed to the independent German label Lawine, Mozartband has such potential and appeal that Virgin Germany couldn't pass on the distribution rights.

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