Rouseabout Records is excited to announce the release of Soloist, Composer, Producer & Multi-Instrumentalist Marcus Holden’s new album The Brolga.
The Brolga is the second of Holden’s ‘folked up classics’ albums and features tunes from his childhood, some lingering in the recesses of his mind for years, while others are more recent additions. In some cases, fragments of the original melodies are used to create almost entirely new works.
Like it predecessor, the critically acclaimed Cicadas & Roses, The Brolga features works from Satie, Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bartok and many more re-interpreted by Holden to create approachable, contemporary and interesting sounds - anything from Bluegrass to Bossa with lots of familiar tunes in new settings along with an original composition ‘Trying to Get to Sleep’.
Review By Tony Smith
The Brolga has fifteen tracks, all instrumentals. The sleeve notes cite a line from the traditional song ‘The Drover’s Dream’: ‘Some brolgas darted out from the tea-tree all about, and performed a set of Lancers very well’. The dance of the brolgas is one of those mysteries Australians hope to see. The album sleeve is made beautiful by the artwork of Marcus Holden’s late mother Patti.
Here are works by Puccini, Borodin, Satie, Prokofiev, Albanoni, JS Bach (3), Bartok, Rimsky-Korsakov, Albeniz, Horowitz, Carolan, LeGrand and Holden himself. Maybe not all of these tracks can be called ‘Folked up classics’ so much as ‘jazzed up’. ‘Hewlett’ by blind harper Turlough Carolan is from a folk background and the introductory cittern is particularly effective. Satie’s ‘Gymnopedie No.1’ sounds great on dobro and is perhaps the most ‘folked up’ track here. Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Cat’ sounds as though it comes straight out of the country swing stable with its drums, guitar and fiddle. There is something for the lovers of gypsy style here. The ‘Tango’ of Albeniz has a similarly earthy flavour. Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scherazarde’ and Bartok’s country dance evoke images of folk dancing anywhere from the Aegean through the Middle East and the Balkans into south west Russia - swirling skirts, bagpipes and complex rhythms.
Holden’s own composition ‘Trying to Get to Sleep’ slips into this galaxy of classical stars very neatly. The frenetic rhythms with their staccato and pizzicato suggest Paganini. Holden’s fellow musicians give great support. Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor soars on Nigel Date’s electric guitar solo. ‘Gavotte’ from Bach’s English suite is enhanced by some bright clarinet from Richard Booth in something akin to klezmer style and Rachel Johnston’s cello is superb on Horowitz’s ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ theme. LeGrand’s ‘The Summer Knows’ is a cool modern piece featuring Elsen Price on double bass and Garry Street on accordion. Oscar Henfrey, Stan Volacos. Ian Date and Kevin Kelly also contribute vital support to Holden’s remarkable range of instruments.
While The Brolga shows that Holden is very comfortable playing many stringed instruments, bowed and plucked, acoustic and electric, every piece soars when the fiddle is introduced. As well as having ouststanding skill on the fiddle however, Holden does exceptional arrangements of tunes in a way that gives them new life. You can do this only if you are very familiar with the originals. He introduces the masters to instruments and arrangements which they could never themselves have imagined. Perhaps it is an indication of the genius of composers such as Bach, Albeniz and Satie that their works translate so readily into a new idiom but testament also to Holden’s own genius.
When he muses that his arrangement of Puccini’s ‘Oh My Beloved Father’ suggests how Paris might have greeted the tune, Holden resembles Victor Borge sitting at his piano and channelling composers and players of diverse style. While Borge might have played for laughs Holden’s arrangements display a degree of wit and good humour. Folky or not The Brolga is an outstanding musical feat by a fine player of traditional music.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 30 November, 2016.