"The Genesis Suite by Tolga Kashif" - CD review by Alan Hewitt.

Taking Genesis’ music back to its orchestral “roots” we also have Tolga Kashif’s latest recording; The Genesis Suite, a follow up to his previous offering The Queen Symphony. Over the years there have been numerous attempts to orchestrate/interpret the band’s music and they have, with the possible exception of the first Genesis For Two Grand Pianos album, failed to satisfy me for a variety of reasons. Sadly, this album is no exception.

The marriage between modern Rock/Pop music and its counterpart Modern Orchestral music (I refuse to call this stuff “Classical” mainly because it ISN’T!) is seldom a happy one and here you have an example of where ambition outstrips actual musicality. Opening with a tawdry choral rendering of Land Of Confusion/Tonight, Tonight, Tonight this really is poor stuff. Ripples is somewhat better with a delightfully delicate piano introduction which certainly pays greater respect to the original than its predecessor. Always a track which lends itself to an orchestral treatment; what we have here is a prime example of where, given the right conditions, this kind of performance can rise above the average to deliver something really enjoyable.

The Mad Man Moon Fantasia Concertante For Violin And Orchestra is little more than excuse for the orchestrator to extemporise and this he does for far too long for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, the playing is as musically excellent as you would expect from musicians of the calibre of the LSO but the heart and soul of the original does not reside within this performance. Not to my ears at any rate.

Follow You Follow me also suffers from a similar fate. Such a delightfully simple song but really one which does not fare well at the hands of an orchestra. In fact, a fundamentally happy song is here turned into a dirge!

The orchestrator then commits one of the greatest sins that he could have done as far as I am concerned by butchering the last great classic Genesis track.: Fading Lights. This really does Tony’s epic no favours at all and yet, if properly handled, this could have made an overture of the highest calibre - which the original already is, by the way!

Entangled too, suffers from being taken too far away from its original form to work in anything like a convincing fashion here which is a shame, because once again it is one of those tracks that really would respond properly to a sympathetic treatment which it does not receive here, I’m afraid.

The album closes with a pairing of two of my personal favourite Genesis tracks; Undertow and Blood On The Rooftops and once again, a complete hash is made of it. What on earth possessed him to include a choir that sounds like it is recording for a third rate version of The Exorcist? Bad enough anywhere but when it is inflicted on my all-time favourite Genesis track it is a crime of the worst kind. Cheesy isn’t in it as far as I am concerned. This is musical pretentiousness at its very worst and serves as a timely notice of why the world of the orchestra and that of the rock band seldom if ever work satisfactorily together. I really can’t bring myself to say anything kind about this, much as I desperately wanted to. Please, Mr Kashif, no more reinterpretations of modern popular music - this one is enough to give me nightmares for quite some time to come!

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Tolga Kashif: The Genesis Suite. Lightsong Media Group LMGRCD1.