“Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album” – Music by DELIBES, BACH, VILLA-LOBOS, VERDI, PACHELBEL, TALLIS, CHOPIN, RACHMANINOFF, VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, CANTELOUBE, FAURE & DEBUSSY performed by Alexandre Tharaud, Barbara Hendricks, Samson Francois, Alexis Weissenberg and others – Capitol Records B008PZ69T8, 75 mins. ***(*):
Compilations continue to rake in the big bucks as EMI Classics’ blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album, a 15-track album featuring classical music personally selected by author E L James herself from references in her bestselling Fifty Shades book trilogy, which has sold 31 million copies worldwide, hits the street. According to the label, upon this compilation’s release, Thomas Tallis’s “Spem in Alium” jumped to the top of the classical charts in the UK.
As usual with EMI, the range of material they draw on is so vast and superb that the selection of performers reflects an additional layer of personal interpretation itself, throwing it into unavoidable competition to the trilogy-based playlists that have sprouted so promiscuously across the Internet. Safe to say, for a mainstream label, Capitol’s 50 Shades is as good as they come.
For newcomers to the music, the performances, many of which come from EMI’s halcyon days as the most natural fullest-range sound in the classical music business, are consistently ravishing and may help answer conclusively in the positive the one question on the minds of most classical music industry executives: whether anyone makes love to classical music anymore. Experienced audiophiles may enjoy visiting such classics as Neville Marriner’s somnolent Pachelbel Canon, Arleen Auger radiant in one of Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, the Tallis Scholars’ heaven-piercing Tallis, and exquisite pianism from Samson Francois, Cecile Ousset, Maria Tipo (in Bach) and Moura Lympany (in Debussy). The album features cover art based on the novels with a liner note from E L James.
1. Lakmé (Act I) (1987 Digital Remaster): Flower Duet Mady Mesplé/Danielle Millet/Orchestre du Théâtre National de I’Opéra-Comique/Alain Lombard 3:31
2. Keyboard Concerto in D Minor BWV 974: II AdagioAlexandre Tharaud/Les Violins du Roy/Bernard Labadie 4:01
3. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (for soprano and 8 cellos): I. Aria (Cantilena): AdagioBarbara Hendricks/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Enrique Bátiz 6:08
4. La traviata: PreludioPhilharmonia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti 3:53
5. Canon in D (1997 – Remaster)Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner 5:00
6. Spem in AliumPeter Phillips & The Tallis Scholars 9:56Album Only
7. Prélude No.4 en mi mineur Op.28 (Remasterisé en 1995)Samson François 1:42
8. Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor, Op.18: II. Adagio sostenuto (excerpt)Cécile Ousset/Sir Simon Rattle/City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 4:32
9. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (opening) (1985 Digital Remaster)London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult 6:12
10. Chants d’Auvergne: Baïlèro (Series 1, No.2)Arleen Augér/English Chamber Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier 6:43
11. Nocturne No.1 en si bémol mineur Op.9 No.1 (Remasterisé en 1995)Samson François 5:13
12. Requiem, Op.48: In ParadisumKing’s College Choir, Cambridge/English Chamber Orchestra/José-Luis Garcia/Peter Barley/Stephen Cleobury 3:29
13. Aria from Goldberg Variations, BWV 988Maria Tipo 3:04
14. La fille aux cheveux de lin from Préludes Book IDame Moura Lympany 2:37
15. Cantata No. 147, ‘Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben’ BWV147: Choral: Jesu bleibe meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man’s desiring)Alexis Weissenberg 3:31
Historic renderings of music from France