When one thinks of Classical composers, some names that come to mind may be Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, or Chopin; but how about Metallica, AC/DC, Michael Jackson, and Queen? To David Garrett, a German-born violinist, any of these can be played with a Classical mind. His self-titled album, David Garrett, takes songs from Baroque era Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Lucio Vivaldi to modern hard Rock bands AC/DC and Metallica, creating a crossover between Classical and Rock. The way that Garrett crosses these genres is similar to that of the more widely known Trans-Siberian Orchestra: the resulting music creates a style that has the ability to attract a new audience to classical music.
The album begins with Garrett’s version of “Summer,” one of Vivaldi’s violin concertos of The Four Seasons. This version has a Rock feel aided by the faster tempo and electric guitar accompaniment. While this version is a thrilling revival of the original, some of the feeling is lost in the intensity. Vivaldi begins the piece softly in the first movement, building towards a strong, energetic second movement before ending softly with the third to emulate a summertime storm. Garrett seems to focus on the second movement, keeping the intensity high throughout, making me believe that it was a hurricane that had blown through. Keeping in mind that the intention was to create a Rock crossover, he fashioned an exciting piece that would compel any listener who is driving to roll the windows down and blast the speakers for all to hear.
Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” follows a few songs later, presenting the contrast in the songs he plays; however, the style is similar and neither seem out of place. This version proves to be impressive from the start as Garrett plays the part of the vocals on violin emulating the way that Jackson sings. Again, he creates a version that seamlessly weaves the two genres without compromising the integrity of the original. There are a few songs that also seemed noteworthy because of how Garrett plays them. One song that surprised me most had to be AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” I had never heard this song before, but the way that Garrett covers it makes quite apparent that this is an AC/DC song. He matches the style and intensity of AC/DC, but makes it more powerful by incorporating a bit of a Classical element.
Another song that needs mention is “Carmen Fantasie,” from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen. This version begins similarly to the original but quickly changes to match Garrett’s touch. This song, however, stands apart from the others on the album. Rather than infusing Rock into the original, Garrett adds a salsa element that gives a twist to the crossover album. It is an interesting piece that brings a new energy to song. I found myself intrigued by the idea of the entire opera having this twist, wanting more of it.
The iconic song from the film Deliverance also deserves some note. Garrett re-envisioned “Dueling Banjos” to be a duel between a guitar and violin. I would have preferred that the guitar remained a banjo; although, this version still was amusing. It was not a crossover but a different look at how the song could play out.
While Garrett covers popular music on this album, he does not limit himself to it as he includes some original work of his own. One such original the album includes is “Chelsea Girl,” a Rock/Classical crossover. “Chelsea Girl” has the sound of a Rock love song that substitutes lyrics with a violin. While there are no words associated with the song, he was able to convey emotion through his playing and the rhythm.
This album is one that surprised me. While I did not expect to dislike it, I did not expect to like it as I do. It takes a certain appreciation for music to enjoy Classical music, as with any genre, but David Garrett is able to renew the old (and new) to make it easier to appreciate Classical music. I have and still do listen to Classical music, but only when I am in the mood for it. This album is one that allows me to listen anytime without feeling like I have to be in the mood. While Garrett’s crossover bringing a greater audience to Classical music is nothing new, his brilliance paints a vivid picture of the original works that is unique. I, personally, have created a Spotify playlist of David Garrett’s crossover songs that I listen to often.