Beatles Go Baroque 2

November 29, 2019

beatles baroque

Track Listing


1.    Come Together (2:55)

2.    Blackbird (4:44)

3.    Drive My Car (3:06)


4.    I Want to Hold Your Hand (2:58)

5.    Something (3:24)

6.    Day Tripper (2:45)


7.    Nowhere Man (3:11)

8.    While My Guitar Gently Weeps (3:40)

9.    Ob- La- Di, Ob- La- Da (3:14)


10.  A Day in the Life (3:33) Spring 1

11.  Norwegian Wood (3:48) Spring 3

12.  Octopus’s Garden (4:04) Autumn 1

13.  Because (3:13) Autumn 2

14.  Back in the U.S.S.R. (3:03) Winter 1

15. Julia (3:39) Winter 2

16.  Get Back (3:02) Autumn 3


17.  I. Here, There and Everywhere (3:20)

18. Yesterday (3:28)

19.  Hello, Goodbye (2:48)


20.  Golden Slumber (4:05)


21. Her Majesty (0:49)

8.574078                 Total Time is 70:09

In 1983 Peter Breiner, arranger, pianist, and conductor was approached by the Slovak Chamber conductor Bohdan Warchal to do an encore piece. Breiner created a five-song concerto grosso of the Beatles and the piece was a hit. In 1992 Naxos owner Klaus Heymann asked Breiner to do an album of popular tunes set in the baroque style of Bach and Handel. The Beatles who were called the Schuberts of the modern-day era by Leonard Bernstein provided the perfect songs to be used for this project. The album went on to be a success and sold over 250,000 copies making it a best-seller for Naxos and the crossover market. Christmas Tunes (2 volumes) and Elvis Presley followed. Crossover is not a new thing with Glenn Miller in the ’40s taking the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto and arranger Bill Finegan making a big band arrangement out of it as an example. Eumir Deodato won a Grammy and sold 5 million copies of his rock/jazz version of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” in 1974.

For this new release, Breiner took a different approach and melded both compositions into one work producing an amazing track that is much more than the standard crossover of changing the rhythm of a classical work to make it sound disco, big band, or jazz. The opening track of Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D Minor with the Beatles “Come Together” is an excellent example of what this release is all about. It begins with Bach’s keyboard work and slowly blends in “Come Together” chords until the entire melody is revealed with the Bach work in the background or is it? It returns again to first the melody and then the harmony playing as prominent a role as the Beatles theme making this a new idea. As you give this work multiple listens you’ll find that there are a lot more to the arrangements than your first listen. Also included with the Keyboard Concerto is “Blackbird.” It begins with a dark motif from the Keyboard Concerto with McCartney’s theme coming in over the theme as a single piano key melody followed by a violin solo and then the chamber orchestra including itself in the melody and harmony. The work ends with the return of the Keyboard Concerto theme. Beginning with a Bach fugerian chord the piano and violin introduce the “Drive My Car” into the song with the violin playing the melody and the fugerian chords while the harmony is played by the piano very briskly. The result is a nice blend of the two playings together.

The Bach Violin Concerto in A Minor is nicely mated with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which becomes something that adapts so well to the concerto you would think the modulations came from Bach himself, Breiner commented. Does that say anything to you about the Beatles and the musical talent they possess? Are they enriched in classical music? “Something” blends the two works so nicely together with the violin being solo featured with the chamber orchestra providing the harmony from the Violin Concerto in the background. “Day Tripper” features the entire chamber orchestra playing both themes in unison with the basses playing “Day Tripper” in the background and a violin and string ensemble playing the other theme.

The Brandenburg Concerto #2 features the woodwinds playing the main melody “Nowhere Man” with Bach accompaniment provided by the strings very active in the background making this a very baroque sounding piece with the harmony it offers. “While My Guitar Weeps” has a background of the George Harrison tune with the Brandenburg Concerto assuming the main role. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’s” loud and rowdy tune is offered from the strings as the strings carry both melodies with the harpsichord playing the harmony both in the background and the forefront. It offers a new unique sound to the Breiner orchestra as the arrangement fits the song well.

The next seven songs of the Beatles are merged with Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons various movements beginning with the most popular Vivaldi movement Spring 1 with the Beatles “A Day in the Life.” Each work gets equal attention as the melody switches back and forth between the two popular melodies making an attention-getting song for the listener. The Violin Concerto of Spring 3 is coupled with “Norwegian Wood” switching violin solo between the harmony and melody creating a rather smooth flow between the two. Starr’s “Octopus’s Garden” fits very nicely with Autumn 1 which uses a harpsichord instead of piano. The violin plays his solo upbeat and with a lot of gusto making it almost gypsy-like. Back to the somber side, we have “Because” coupled with Autumn 2 in a slow romantic setting again with harpsichord. “Back in the USSR” takes a front-row seat with the chamber orchestra assuming both the melody and harmony with Winter 1 in the background. The very beautiful “Julia” is featured on a violin with a background of Vivaldi Winter 2. “Get Back” offers a return to a high energy quick-paced track with Autumn 3 in the background. I was reminded of a high-speed chase track from a soundtrack.

The Bach Mass in D Minor merges with 3 Beatles songs “I. Here, There and Everywhere,” a complex arrangement with the flute, fugue, and melody and harmony by the ensemble. “Yesterday,” reminds one of a melancholy moment with bassoon and solo violin,  and “Hello Goodbye” a very positive reading from both composers.

A Golden Slumber is an Abbey Road medley of Beatles song written in the baroque style and the last track albeit 49 seconds is a Brandenburg Concerto.

One of the things I suggest you do is to listen to all of the original Beatles compositions to get an exact idea of the medley and how it fits into the baroque works. Breiner has gone to great lengths with his arrangements to make these more than just a rhythm sound to these works. When you listen to these works think of them as something you are hearing for the very first time. If you do, it will enhance your listening pleasure greatly.