Title - 'Songs For Strings'
Artist - Donald Fraser
For those not in the classical know, Donald Fraser began his musical life as a chorister in his local Parish Church and subsequently learned piano and trumpet.
Indeed, he was a member of his local youth and community orchestras as both player and conductor. He began composing at age 13 and at 17 entered the
Royal College of Music to study composing and conducting.
In his second year he was awarded all five composition prizes, most notably the Cobbett Prize for his first string quartet performed by the then newly formed Chilingirian Quartet.
His principal professors were Humphrey Searle and Alexander Goehr.
In the 1990s, Donald Fraser scored a hit with his orchestral arrangement of Marin Marais baroque classic "The Bells of Genevieve" which reached the Top 5 of Billboards Classical Chart and remains a radio evergreen to this day.
Numerous commissions for arrangements followed for musicians such as The Kings Singers, Yehudi Menuhim and the English Chamber Orchestra.
In 2016, AVIE Records released his large-scale orchestration of Edward Elgars Piano Quintet and choral version of Sea Pictures, which charted in the Top 10 of the UK Specialist Classical Chart.
Fraser now returns to the art of arranging smaller scale, classic works by John Dowland, Henry Purcell, Antonio Vivaldi and others, here on his brand new album, Songs For Strings.
Including new versions of his own "Amen" from A Christmas Symphony which was written for and premiered by soprano Jessye Norman, a new remix of "The Bells of St. Genevieve" and orchestrations of four Elgar art songs (that evoke the albums title) are also introduced to us.
Simply put, Songs For Strings features fifteen selections, some old, some new, some well known, others not so, all rearranged for string orchestra.
Offering us, which is rare in its own right these days, something new from the core of the original compositions, whether it be alongside the English Symphony or the English Chamber Orchestra, Fraser conducts both ensembles superbly here.
In truth, all of the tracks compiled here are lush, free flowing works of gorgeous musical art. All beautifully arranged and presented, some you will be just getting into before they have suddenly come to and end, but for the most part, this is an afternoon well spent listening to Fraser work his magic, trust me.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Fraser (as Producer) and engineer Simon Kiln recorded the music at Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London in July 2013 (ECO) and Studio No. 2, Abbey Road in April 2018 (ESO). They recorded the final track on the album at The Barn Studio, Shirland, Illinois in May 2018.
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