Ten contemporary composers, performers, producers and DJs break new ground with Summer Tales, a genre-defying programme of classical music reworks – the ideal chillout soundtrack to carefree summer days. Invited by DG’s New Repertoire team to reimagine popular classics with summer in mind, David Douglas, Goldmund, Peter Gregson, Laura Masotto, Mathilda, Model Man, Roosevelt, Someone, Sam Thompson and Xinobi have worked their magic on music by composers from Pachelbel and Bach to Debussy and Ravel. Their inspired and contrasting responses, ranging from laidback soundscapes to more dance-floor-oriented tracks, make up the Summer Tales listening experience. Deutsche Grammophon will release the album digitally on 22 July 2022, while vinyl fans will be able to purchase Summer Tales on LP from 26 August.
With a tracklist framed by two trios of French originals, Summer Tales kicks off with a rework of La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin from British producer Mark Brandon, aka Model Man. “Debussy is a composer I first studied when I was in my teens,” says Brandon. “The freedom DG offered me has led to a piece I’m really proud of, one that’s informed deeply by Debussy but hopefully evolves into a new entity that can bring him to a different space.”
Dutch producer David Douglas pays tribute to Saint-Saëns with his version of “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals. “Even though I make electronic music, the Romantic era has always been a big inspiration to me,” he explains. “Saint-Saëns said he wrote this piece just for fun – I decided to have a lot of fun making this rework so it feels like a song close to my heart.”
Jeux d’eau is reimagined by German producer Roosevelt, who appreciated the opportunity to work outside his comfort zone. “Sometimes that’s exactly what you need,” comments the artist. “My take with the remix was almost a hip-hop approach, where I sampled just a small section of the original, looped it throughout the track and tried to merge it with a dance-floor groove.”
Portuguese producer Xinobi took on the challenge of a 17th-century classic: Pachelbel’s Canon in D. “It was very rewarding,” he says. “I decided to go ethereal and discreet, with a (not too obvious) euphoria build-up in the middle, all on top of old-school-styled breakbeats.” Next is composer Laura Masotto’s Shéhérazade Rework, inspired in part by the Persian, Arabic and Indian roots of the tales behind Rimsky-Korsakov’s hit. As she explains, “I wanted to weave together past and present, and recreate the atmosphere of the warm summer nights in these places from a new perspective, through modern instruments. I blended the sounds of synths with Rimsky’s dreamy string themes.”
Dutch-British musician and producer Someone, aka Tessa Rose Jackson, is also a visual artist and has created the cover artwork for Summer Tales. She focused on Tchaikovsky’s timeless melody and memories of the watery sounds of lakeside summer holidays for her Swan Lake rework, which proves “that melody can transcend the years and fit right into our current world”. Cellist-composer Peter Gregson, meanwhile, channels the energy of J.S. Bach through his Gigue 6.6. “I think there’s eternal optimism in Bach’s music,” says the DG artist. “This felt like a perfect opportunity to expand on those long childhood summer days; the ups and downs all buoyed by the optimism found in the weather!”
Summer Tales closes with three more French reworks. American composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Goldmund pares down the lushness of the “Flower Duet” from Delibes’ opera Lakmé: “I feel there’s a simplicity to summer that I wanted to impart so I kept the instrumentation sparse and intimate.” By contrast, French chanteuse Mathilda, known for her work with the late singer-songwriter Christophe, evokes “a summer night in Andalusia” and “a sensual, strong and dangerous Carmen”, in her reimagining of Bizet’s “Habanera”. British composer, orchestrator and conductor Sam Thompson crowns the album with a virtuoso rework of Fauré’s Pavane, featuring his friend Peter Gregson on cello. “To me,” says Thompson, “summer is in the bright positivity of the twittering woodwinds and the long, languid phrases of the cello melody.”
Three e-singles offer a generous slice of Summer Tales ahead of the full album’s release. La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin (Model Man Rework) will be available to download or stream from 10 June, with Laura Masotto’s Shéhérazade Rework following on 24 June, and Someone’s Swan Lake Rework on 8 July.