Sunday 16 September 2018

Yerkesh Shakeyev - Waves from Heaven

Yerkesh Shakeyev - Waves from Heaven
Yerkesh Shakeyev Waves from Heaven; London Symphony Orchestra / Gavin Sutherland, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Richard Balcombe, London Metropolitan Orchestra / Andy Brown
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 5 June 2018
A move into orchestral music by a Kazakhstani song writer is bound to delight

Listen to this disc blind, I am sure you will be delighted. It is a collection of fourteen pieces (most around five minutes in duration) which I can only describe as light music. Carefully and imaginatively, finely crafted and will a melodic fluency which will charm, easy on the ear yet not negligible. The music varies between rather film-soundtrack moments, to intense melancholic lyricism to passages which put a real smile on your face and would not be out of place on the BBC Radio 2 programme Friday Night is Music Night. With the blending of genres and the crossing of boundaries, good light music is rather rare to find.

In fact, this is a disc of music by the Kazakhstani composer Yerkesh Shakeyev. Born in 1962 he has moved from bard songs and pop hits to neoclassicism. With this album Waves from Heaven Shakeyev seems to have made the move into orchestral music. The pieces are performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under conductor Gavin Sutherland, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Richard Balcombe and the London Metropolitan Orchestra under conductor Andy Brown.

One detail of the production does, however make you wonder quite how much of what we are hearing is Shakeyev. Whilst Shakeyev is a highly experienced song-writer with a long career behind him, all the music on this disc is credited to arrangers, with Dmitry Varelas, Toby Young and John Lenehan sharing the arranging honours, and Lenehan providing the piano solo on the two tracks that he has arranged.

I have to confess to having only the haziest idea where Kazakhstan is, or what the country's music is like. But this is one of those disc which really does manage to cross boundaries, and I enjoyed it immensely. All the more so as much of it seems to have a winning smile, or wistful melancholy behind it.

Yerkesh Shakeyev (born 1962), arr. Dmitry Varelas, TobyYoung, John Lenehan - Waves from Heaven
London Symphony Orchestra / Gavin Sutherland
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Richard Balcombe
London Metropolitan Orchestra / Andy Brown
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, 2016
Available from Amazon.

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