COSTELLO Il Sogno Tilson Thomas 4715772

Costello knows his way around an orchestra. The writing is full of color and variety, and solo instruments get their fair share of the spotlight - a beguiling trumpet song in the second movement still lingers.

Costello weiß, wie man Orchestermusik schreibt. Die Musik ist farbig und abwechslungsreich, die Soloinstrumente kommen angemessen zur Geltung eine betörende Trompetenmelodie aus dem zweiten Satz lässt einen nicht los.

Costello connaît bien l'orchestre. L'écriture est pleine de couleur et de variété, et les instruments solistes sont chacun à leur tour sous les projecteurs - un séduisant air de trompette dans le deuxième mouvement résonne encore.

Mr. Costello is ceaselessly curious about music. He is inquisitive enough not just to listen widely, but to learn the makings of every idiom that moves him . . .

Costellos musikalische Neugier ist unerschöpflich. Er ist wissbegierig genug, sich nicht nur die verschiedensten Dinge anzuhören, sondern auch die Machart jedes Genres zu erlernen, das ihn interessiert . . .

Costello est d'une inlassable curiosité musicale - au point non seulement d'écouter beaucoup, mais aussi d'apprendre le fonctionnement de tout langage qui le touche . . .

. . . this former angry young man has grown into perhaps the most adventurous and accomplished musical polymath of our times . . . It is almost skittish in flavour, light and playful and entirely lacking in the kind of darkness that characterises Costello's songwriting. It is as if, liberated from his black lyrical sensibility, he has abandoned himself to the delightful possibilities of instrumental music . . . "Il Sogno" shifts its musical terrain from Debussy-like harmonies to Leonard Bernstein-flavoured jazz and swing, making references to Broadway musicals as much as to the classics . . . it abundantly displays the musical diversity that has become Costello's hallmark.

. . . dieser einst zornige junge Mann hat sich zum vielleicht mutigsten und vollendetsten musikalischen Universaltalent unserer Zeit entwickelt . . . Die Musik ist geradezu übermütig, federleicht und verspielt, ganz ohne jene düsteren Züge, die Costellos Songs kennzeichnen. Befreit vom dunklen Charakter seiner Lyrik, überlasst er sich offenkundig den reichen Möglichkeiten der Orchestermusik . . . "Il Sogno" bewegt sich musikalisch von Debussy'scher Harmonik bis zu Jazz und Swing à la Leonard Bernstein, Anspielungen auf Broadway Musicals sind ebenso häufig wie auf die Klassiker . . . überall zeigt sich die musikalische Vielseitigkeit, die zu Costellos Markenzeichen geworden ist.

Cet ancien jeune homme en colère est sans doute devenu le musicien universel le plus aventureux et le plus accompli de notre temps [...]. La musique est de saveur fantasque, légère et enjouée, entièrement dépourvue de ces couleurs sombres qui caractérisent les chansons de Costello. C'est comme si, libéré de sa noire sensibilité lyrique, il s'abandonnait aux agréables possibilités de la musique instrumentale [...]. Le langage musical d'«Il Sogno» passe d'harmonies debussystes au jazz et au swing à la Leonard Bernstein, avec des allusions aux comédies musicales de Broadway tout autant qu'aux classiques [...]. On y trouve abondamment toute cette variété musicale qui est devenue la signature de Costello."

Il Sogno is a rhapsodic piece full of shifting moods, with moments of eerie delicacy and of comic pomp.

["North":] . . . a jazzy, piano-based song cycle on love lost and found.

. . . a very appealing and fresh sounding stand-alone work . . . Michael Tilson Thomas leads the London Symphony Orchestra in a brilliant performance . . . there's absolutely nothing to complain about in terms of interpretation or playing, and the sound, from Abbey Road Studios, is similarly beyond cavil . . . What he (Costello) has done is write an excellent and imaginative dance piece, giving us a very promising "classical music" debut that deserves to be treated with respect and listened to with pleasure.

The LSO and Michael Tilson-Thomas exult in the work's textures and climaxes. The milieu is more cinematic than symphonic but this beguiling confection is light-years beyond most pop-classical crossover attempts.

"Il Sogno" is a serious effort that reveals a composer adept at his modern classical idiom, and what's more, he's a skilled orchestrator as well.

. . . he has blossomed into the most broad-minded music-maker in contemporary pop . . .

An ambitious classical piece . . . an adventurous and almost skittish blend of jazz, swing and classical.

there are some great dramatic moments, as in the crashing strangeness and rage of "The Jealousy of Helena" or"Workers' Playtime", where Bottom's theme comes charging in like an ass, sparring with the other characters' motifs . . . the way he interweaves his themes as the action progresses is a revelation. Arching over all of it too is his sense of melody.

"Il Sogno" is classic Elvis Costello . . . good enough to reward attention even if it were by an unknown composer . . . The music is rhythmically lively, as dance music must be. It is full of character and storytelling, and the orchestration is skillful, unusual, and colorful . . . Costello's fans will recognize him here, and discover more of him.

Pop's most relentless eclectic has outdone himself by releasing two vastly different recordings at once and scoring on both counts. The instrumental "Il Sogno" . . . brims with the bittersweet melodicism and alternately playful and wistful wit that have distinguished his work as a singer/songwriter. And the London Symphony Orchestra handles Costello's orchestrations, which nod to jazz and jazz-influenced composers such as George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein, with grace and vitality.

No rock musician can aspire to serious auteur status these days, it seems, without undertaking a big classical composition -- oratorio, opera, symphony, what have you. The only catch is that most of them haven't a clue how to go about it.
Elvis Costello does.
"Il Sogno" ("The Dream"), an evening-length ballet score based on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is the one product of this odd recent trend that's actually worth the staff paper it's written on . . . an expansive, colorful and often striking creation, done with all the imaginative flair and restless precision of Costello's rock efforts. And on the Deutsche Grammophon recording that hits stores today, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, the various episodes of Costello's score sparkle and shine like the pages of a glossily illustrated book of fairy tales . . . What's most striking, though, is Costello's command of the orchestra. "Il Sogno" alternates between richly idiomatic traditional sonorities and skillful grafts from elsewhere, including a jazz band and the tinkly, percussive sound of the cimbalom. If this is really just scoring by ear, Costello's untutored facility is prodigious. But then, it always has been. From the beginning of his career, Costello has been a consummate classicist, less interested in innovation than in mastering and refining an ever-wider range of musical languages -- from punk rock to country, from pop ballads to art songs. There was no reason to expect anything less from him in this
new arena.

Costello treats listeners to a classical adventure . . . "Il Sogno" -- literally, "The Dream" -- is a kaleidoscope of musical styles and a narrative fantasy story tour de force. . . Costello's sense of dramatic pace and timing reveals his maturity and wisdom as a
composer . . . "Il Sogno" is a surprisingly stunning, diverse and lovely orchestral composition, and if listeners can't find Waldo, they can find Costello -- whose true inspiration comes not just from one musical style, but from all the world's music.

. . . Costello's sound is surprisingly fresh. His melodies are memorable and untrivial. The sudden swings into jazz prove pure delight. Tilson Thomas' performance is tops, bursting with life.

great job

. . . rock's most eloquent nerd isn't gettinger older, he's getting bolder . . . he's had the gall to keep going on the strength of musical exploration.

Very easy light-orchestral listening, rich in airy melody and playful pastiche . . . Another competent string to his bow. Literally.

Elvis Costello is something of a musical chameleon. Indeed, his ability to write in a variety of styles was manifest in his brilliant early albums . . . The singer/songwriter's keen ear for stylistic detail has aided him in "Il Sogno" too -- a fluent and melodically attractive ballet based on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The scoring is generally skilful, and tracks like 'Oberon humbled' show that Costello has mastered the fine art of thematic transformation. "Il Sogno" is constructed, like so many of its balletic predecessors, from small, discrete sections, with several themes woven throughout the score to provide coherence . . . Costello fans -- and I count myself among them -- will likely want to hear "Il Sogno" in its entirety . . . the performance here leaves nothing to be desired. Michael Tilson Thomas and the LSO make the most of the score's gauzy delicacy and tender lyricism, and DG's recording is exceptionally vivid and well-balanced.

The result is nothing like you might have expected from Costello, laid back, jazzy, and, as I say, romantic.

Snappily performed and with an airy recorded sound, this project will certainly show Costello's admirers a new aspect of his restlessly inventive musical thinking.

Costello¿s light, modest touch is a pleasant surprise . . . No question about it -- Costello is a talented musician, and ¿Il sogno¿ is an hour well spent.

To hear one of the world's great orchestras . . . luxuriating in this unusual score is a rare treat . . . It is remotely possible that the Italian ballet may be seen over here, but it will never sound anywhere near as gloriously as it does on this splendid recording. Elvis lives!

. . . Play the lion too . . . He's been poaching in classical fields for years. Now Elvis Costello has written a ballet after Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream". It's his first work for orchestra, and as of yesterday it can be found in record shop bins. You'll have to search for it there: in the "Classical" section, under "Ballet" or the composer's name, because normally you'd expect to find him in the "Pop" section.
If the connections between rock clichés and classical doodling forged by the pioneers of "classic rock" still deserve attention as a disrespectfully creative play with quotations, their original works have almost always been disappointing because of a lack of depth.
Elvis Costello is another calibre altogether. The Englishman, who just turned 50, has been one of the great quick-change artists in pop music for nearly three decades. No one else has produced such a wide-ranging body of work. It stretches from late punk via early soul and rock to country jazz, backward to swing and forward to a grasp of new music which, needless to add, transcends genres precisely because it makes no distinctions between "serious" and "light" music. If we were to try to pigeonhole Costello's composing with a single category, it would have to be "song". This is the radius vector that leads him through every kind of music.
And yet the genre of song finds no place in his first orchestral composition. It was a commission from the Italian ballet company Aterballetto, who asked Costello to write Shakespeare music for dancing. "Il Sogno" (The Dream) had its premiere four years ago in Bologna, played by the local orchestra. A recording of their performance served the company when they took the ballet to Germany, France, Russia and America.
For the new recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, Costello revised the music in collaboration with conductor and (classical) composer Michael Tilson Thomas. In this version there's nothing left that could conceivably distract from the music's purely expressive values. It can be listened to as a translation of the play's marvellous verbal melodies as well as a musicalization of its characters, both groups and couples. Costello makes use of techniques that have been standard practice for ages in programmatic music: pompous orchestral gestures for the court, folk dances for the rude mechanicals, and he makes the realms of the fairies and elves float ethereally.
Explosive tuttis alternate with soloistic passages - the sonic possibilities of the orchestral instruments are put on exhibition. If that's all there were to it, Costello's ballet music would be no more than a conventional composition, dressed in the familiar attire of earlier masters. In fact the attentive listener will need several hearings to take in all its many facets. Concealed under long stretches of smooth surface are numerous little provocations which are set off in the work like fireworks - in constantly new and dazzling wreaths of colour.
The casualness with which a chopping board becomes a solo instrument, the way a rock drummer urges the orchestra on, the saxophone snarls and impressionistically misty sounds invade the music - all these are more than mere effects. They are integral elements in a work that demands to be taken on its own terms: as a brave attempt to discover new territory between the notes, spurred on by a tireless explorer of sounds who, to the benefit and delight of unprejudiced listeners, cares not a whit about so-called boundaries.

Herausgekommen ist eine lässige, niemals nachlässige Komposition, die handwerklich gekonnt das London Symphony Orchestra zum Swingen bringt.

Sein technisch penibel ausgeleuchtetes Opus "Il Sogno" entpuppt sich unter Michael Tilson Thomas als spannender Stilmix. So kreuzt der Engländer Prokofieffs Erbe mit Jazz und Avantgarde. Verhangene Streicher zelebrieren die Hochzeit, ein cooles Vibrafon wiegt in den Schlaf. Costello als Ballettkomponist -- ein starkes Debüt.

Nach den überragenden, intimen "Juliet Letters" mit dem Brodsky Streichquartett überzeugt der wohl vielseitigste aktuelle Pop-Songwriter Elvis Costello auch in der symphonischen Großform, genauer: mit Ballettmusik nach Shakespeares "Sommernachtstraum" . . . kunstvolle Unterhaltungsmusik mit keckem Charme: Respekt!

. . . le Britannique n'a rien perdu de sa fertilité mélodique légendaire et s'est honorablement acquitté de la tâche . . . ils se promènent avec une application touchante dans cet univers bigarré, louvoyant entre mariachis et génériques de feuilletons américains.