STING Symphonicities

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STING
Symphonicities

Next To You · Englishman In New York
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
I Hung My Head · You Will Be My Ain
True Love · Roxanne · When We Dance
End Of The Game · I Burn For You · We
Work The Black Seam · She's Too Good
For Me · The Pirate's Bride
The Royal Philharmonic Concert
Orchestra · Steven Mercurio a.o.
Int. Release 13 Jul. 2010
1 CD / Download
CD DDD 6025 274 2537 5 GH
Limited Edition:
LP DDD GH 2
NEW STING CD - Symphonicities


Sting¿s a naturally charismatic showman who remains instantly compelling behind a microphone -- his voice . . . is as robust and alluring as ever . . what makes it a show I¿d heartily recommend to any Sting fan . . . is the unexpected and revelatory intimacy he has brought to this tour, as well as the deep setlist . . . [Sting] finds new wrinkles of meaning in his vocal delivery, plus a world of wondrous instrumental shades and sounds . . .

. . . an impressive degree of craft and invention at is best.

The 58-year-old singer and songwriter always has challenged himself musically, revisiting his catalog in new settings that make a case for the flexibility and wide appeal of his catalog's greatest hits . . . Sting has made some genuinely enduring music. . . . expertly realized ideas, soothing sounds . . . a genuinely hybrid sound . . . [it] was still very pop, using big strokes to create a haunting mood.

In a word, incredible. Some have been skeptical of this musical melding of pop and symphony, but it sure worked for me. From the opening ¿If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,¿ through a generous mix of Police and Sting hits, the evening brought out the best . . . Sting held the stage front and center and he seemed energized to be sharing the stage with a full orchestra on a tour aptly named ¿Symphonicity,¿ . . . To me, the concept worked. The 47-member orchestra, under the direction of Stephen Mercurio, seemed to breathe new life into Sting classics like ¿Russians¿ and ¿Moon Over Bourbon Street.¿ And I never thought I would describe ¿Roxanne¿ as haunting, but that¿s the feeling I had when hearing the full orchestra interpretation. Voice and sound were in fine form . . . Charming and graceful throughout.

Floating over the orchestra's undulating arpeggios, he utilized his voice as pure sound but also inhabited the characters in his songs more deeply than usual . . .

While the strings and arrangements were impressive, Sting's voice definitely was the centerpiece of the evening . . .

Sting brought the biggest, and clearly the most accomplished, backing band of his storied career along with him . . . for his Symphonicity Tour tour. The 45-piece Orchestra added a depth and elegance to songs that already had plenty of emotion, while breathing new life into Sting's classic material as well as his more recent hits. The RPCO, were dynamic and superb all evening long, lead by the steady and excitable hand of Maestro Steven Mercurio, who clearly enjoyed bringing a classical bent to the celebrated pop staples of Sting . . . the night truly belonged to Sting's pure dulcet voice and his illustrious songbook filled with memorable and instantly recognizable numbers . . . [Sting's music] was given a fresh, sophisticated restyling by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, and their involvement subsequently gave new life to Sting, who was clearly pleased to discover these songs anew along with his adoring audience.

The resulting sound was full, lush and refreshing -- and even welcome.

. . . I was truly pleasantly surprised. There are many artists who try the symphony-backed one-off dates, and frankly they can become a disaster. Not in this case. Clearly this show is about the music, and about Sting. From the beginning notes . . . this night on the 'greatest hits tour with a symphony orchestra' was becoming quite the event . . . [Sting] was in top form vocally and sounds even better backed by a symphony . . . he has the voice, determination, talent, and the personality to carry it off without a hitch . . .

Sting delivers an entertaining if uneven evening of orchestral versions of dozens of songs from his extensive catalog . . . the shows are a natural progression from his excursions into the jazz and classical realms . . . The numbers that were the most arresting were the ones that deviated the most from the original versions. A slowed-down "Roxanne" provided room for haunting cello and clarinet solos; "Whenever I Say Your Name" benefited from a sterling violin intro . . . Two songs particularly benefited from the orchestra's contributions: "Russians," featuring musical quotes from Prokofiev and Mussorgsky, was delivered with thrilling bombast, and the strings on "Moon Over Bourbon Street" gave it the ominous feel of a Tim Burton movie soundtrack . . . He clearly was buoyed by the wildly enthusiastic response of the crowd and relishing the opportunity to revisit many songs that he hadn't performed in years.

. . . luxury-refurbished versions of songs from across Sting¿s catalog . . . [The arrangements] varied greatly in mood and texture, though each was clearly conceived as a black-velvet cushion for Sting . . . still has his distinctive croon, rounded and foggy in the lower depths and tersely silvery near the top of his range.

. . . Sting has adapted his music pretty well, lifting the idea above novelty. And the album "Symphonicities¿" gets the job done . . . the premise came across as inspired, as Sting and the orchestra¿s conductor, Steven Mercurio, cooked up plenty of showmanship within the arrangements. Multiple soloists and spirited section spotlights revealed the swinging side to this well-polished ensemble. And Sting stepped into the big sound like an heir to the Sinatra legacy, exuding a cool swagger. "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You",¿ "Englishman in New York", "Russians", and "When We Dance" all blossomed anew in the orchestral setting, and Sting really seemed to have succeeded with his artistic reinventions . . .

. . . it's all executed with such sterling craftmanship . . . an enchanted spin.

. . . it avoids bloat or syrrup, instead finely balancing pop/rock concerns with the classical kind. Along the way, some songs find fresh character . . . "Englishman in New York" seems more light and playful through the whimsical strings and wily woodwinds, while the delightful orchestrations in "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" literalize the idea of finding endless pleasure in someone you're smitten with.

Backed by grand classical musicians, the songs gain -- not lose -- intensity and energy.


He and some new friends reintroduce us to a dozen nuggets of musical magic borne of his imagination . . . Sting sings with a symphony orchestra (with guitar and drums thrown in for good measure) in clever and tasteful new arrangements that, to my ear, often an improvement over the original. "Roxanne" has never sounded so richly soulful, and "The Pirate¿s Bride" happily totes along a substantial sonic dowry . . . Sting himself is sounding more mellow . . . Top track: "We Work the Black Sea", a coal-mining history lesson, now laced with a sneaky-spiky brass band-and-drum accompaniment.


The album¿s biggest revelation is ¿Roxanne.¿¿ That such an exhaustively played song could exude new nuances -- more yearning and melancholy than demanding anger thanks to a gorgeously mournful cello solo -- is impressive. One consistent element, however, is Sting¿s vocals, which are as warm, elastic, and expressive as ever.

You know what? It works really well. I Hung My Head, for example, is given a gravitas not found in the original, making it a much bigger song than it was . . .

. . . the arrangements on Symphonicities come as a blessed relief . . . these are airy and, when appropriate, lively. The song selection is similarly inspired, avoiding most of the obvious choices . . . the tasteful crescendos in "I Hung My Head" enhance the murder ballad's remorse, and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" retains its loose-limbed celebration . . .

. . . there¿s definitely magic.

Symphonicities . . . swells, rises and dips. The ex-schoolteacher's voice mirrors likewise, pitch-perfect . . . everything is geared to impress you into open-mouthed wonder. Roxanne achieves that, and even grazes the heart, too. Lonely, mournful pipes and cello add pathos to the humdinger, and Sting sounds disarmed enough to move the listener.

. . . es ist hervorragend gelungen! "Next to You", die Eröffnungsnummer auch des allerersten Police-Albums, zeigt, wie wohldosiert Sting und seine Arrangeure (v.a. Rob Mathes) das Orchester einerseits und eine akustische Rockband andererseits einsetzen, um jeweils das Beste der beiden Welten herauszuholen. Der Drive der harten Rhythmusgitarre im Original wird durch ein akzentuiertes Geigen-Riff mehr als nur wettgemacht. Keine Spur von schleppenden Streichern, intensive Percussion treibt die Musik voran, Sting singt darüber mit klarer Stimme, in lichten Höhen, um nichts weniger faszinierend als in seiner Jugendzeit . . . Im Charakter ganz anders, aber ebenso überzeugend, wird "We Work the Black Seam" zu einer Blechbläser-Klangkaskade umgedeutet, "She's Too Good for Me" zu einer feurigen orientalischen Hymne . . . Das wahre Glanzstück von "Symphonicities" ist -- einmal mehr -- "Roxanne" . . . Es überzeugt nun auch als zarte, farbenprächtige Ballade mit Geigen, Flöten, ruhigem Rhythmus -- gute Kompositionen funktionieren eben in vielen Kleidern . . . "Symphonicities" ist ein reifes Werk, das trotzdem noch immenses Feuer in sich hat.

Sting gelingt mit dem in den Londoner Abbey Road Studios aufgenommenen "Symphonicities¿-Programm ein echtes Kunststück. Denn sowohl seine neuen und lyrischen Kompositionen, als auch ein New-Wave Klassiker wie "Next To You" . . . fügen sich wie selbstverständlich in die Soundsphäre der Aufnahme (Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra -- London). Hier passt alles zusammen, Persönlichkeit und Idee, Klang und Ambiente, Konzept und Umsetzung, so dass "Symhonicities" trotz des großen künstlerischen Aufwands nichts von seiner Authentizität verliert.

Glücklicherweise hat Sting seine Stücke nicht mit Streicherbombast zugekleistert. Die Arrangements sind . . . immer geschmackvoll und sie passen zum jeweiligen Song. Ausgesprochen gelungen ist die sanfte, zurückgenommene Version von "Roxanne", die dem Song einen ganz neuen Charakter verleiht, während die Neufassung von "Englishman In New York" recht nah am Original bleibt. In jedem Fall zeigt "Symphonicities", wie gut und zeitlos die Songs sind.

Mit "Symphonicities" ist Sting etwas gelungen, das viele Musiker vor ihm schon aus dem Takt gebracht hat: Popmusik in Klassik zu verwandeln. Wo andere nur geziert und gestelzt klingen, gibt die Klassik-Behandlung seinen alten Hits neuen Schwung . . . Statt vom Orchester begraben zu werden, ergänzt Stings unverwechselbare Stimme die Streicher und Bläser nahezu perfekt. Besonders gelungen sind die Songs "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" und "I Hung My Head", in denen der Zuhörer immer wieder neue Feinheiten der Melodien entdecken kann. "Englishman in New York" klingt sogar so, als ob es immer schon für Orchester geschrieben worden sei . . . ["We Work The Black Seam"]: Die etwas verkopfte Sozialkritik in Stings Text wird hier durch die für die Region typische Klänge der Blechblasinstrumente endlich richtig geerdet.

Stings Sinfonik-Album ist . . . ein Genuss, weil seine Lieder von allen -- inklusive ihm selbst -- neu gespürt, neu durchdacht, neu gehört und folglich neu gesungen werden. Es zeichnet große Musik aus, dass sie Bearbeitungen standhält . . . Dass sie auch unter seiner eigenen Regie und Stimme immer wieder neu entstehen, ist der Beweis für den großen Künstler: der sich die Besten aus allen Sparten als Partner auf die Bühne holt und mit ihnen neugierig in künstlerischen Dialog tritt. Und der mit seiner unverkennbar rauchigen, lässigen und immer noch bestechend intakten Stimme emotional und intellektuell Welten erschließen kann -- Pop oder Klassik: who cares?

Einer der wirklich seltenen gelungenen Crossover-Versuche.

Sting selbst wollte die verborgenen Ecken und Facetten seiner Songs finden, wie er meinte. Er ist fündig geworden: Fast alle Songs wirken wie Neukompositionen, begeistern mit Kraft und Musical-Dramatik, bis Stings heiser-geschmeidige Vocals ins Spiel kommen . . . »We Work The Black Seam«, fast nur mit den großen Blechbläsern intoniert, sorgt selbst bei Sommerhitze für Gänsehaut. Und sogar an den Groove-Pop von »She's Too Good For Me« wagt sich das Orchester heran, diesmal aber mit Gitarre im Gepäck -- schlichtweg eine Wucht! Mal dramatisch, mal sparsam, stets mitreißend: »Symphonicities« ist ein zeitloses Alterswerk mit jugendlichem Drive -- nicht nur für Sting-Fans.

Sting gelingt es, seine Songs zu einer neuen, organischen Einheit zu verschmelzen. Und weil er ein Perfektionist, hat alles, was er anpackt, immer Hand und Fuß.

Sting expérimente sans relâche . . . il donne à entendre sa sereine maturité vocale et artistique . . . avec une évidente sincérité.