Tolga Kashif / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Tolga Kashif: The Queen Symphony

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In preparing an album of classical music based on rock songs, a measure of the project's success depends on how compatible the music is to the classical milieu. Past collections that have recast into classical styles such groups as the Beatles and the Police turned out well in part because these groups had a little "classical" in them. Perhaps an album "classicizing" AC/DC would not be as successful; a project involving similar treatments of music by the Rolling Stones proved so weak it provided fuel for an argument against the validity of this entire genre. Queen, on the other hand, probably had more "classical" in it than any other major British rock group. Queen was also able to creatively absorb in its magnum opus Bohemian Rhapsody influences drawn from the most un-rock like classical form of them all: opera. Composer Tolga Kashif has embarked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on a quest to bring Queen's music into a wholly classical realm and The Queen Symphony is an entirely satisfactory result. Rather than realizing direct treatments of specific Queen songs, Kashif has remodeled several related numbers into six movements making up a "symphony." In approach, it bears a distant resemblance to the symphony that Philip Glass fashioned out of the second side of David Bowie and Brian Eno's Low, but it is far more dramatic and themes change over a bit more rapidly. There is also a full chorus, which results in some "Hollywood"-type scoring that may be a bit over the top for some. Nonetheless, The Queen Symphony is excellently well done; beautifully recorded; and has an attractive, well-annotated package that includes a late, formal studio shot of Queen.

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