Amici Forever. Defined. Sony, 2005.
Although the idea of jazzing (or rocking?) up classical music has been competently managed for decades by the likes of P.D.Q. Bach, Mannheim Steamroller, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the various orchestral, rock, and parodic compositions or remixes presented by the aforementioned groups pale in comparison before the two recent offerings of the British group Amici Forever. Their first album, The Rock Opera Band is a shocking and classy blend of time-tested melodies, beautiful lyrics, and voices that melt the silence. Their second offering, Defined, is even better, if that is even possible.
One of the primary objectives of the group is to preserve the integrity of the old songs while adding something new. Their liner notes constantly explain how the songs were chosen and compiled, and the additions of drums and more vibrant tempos is hardly a distraction. A familiar adagio by Albinoni is remaade with the rich tones of human voices replacing the organ traditionally associated with the piece. The original composition "So Far Away," melds the singers' voices with Celtic pipes, soft drums, and a gently plucked guitar. The voices are exquisite and blend so smoothly that it is occasionally difficult to distinguish one singer from the next; the arrangements are classy and classic all at once, and the overall effect is an album that has not left my CD player since I purchased it.