Victor Alexeeff 2022
Ontarian romanticist puts a synthetic spin on symphonic fare and suffuses familiar tunes with fresh tones.
Locating Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D on any artist’s album is akin to a litmus test for presence of pop approach to classical lore, yet this Canadian ivories-driver tosses his method in a more progressive manner, seeing the results land between Louis Clark’s sweetness and Wendy Carlos’ spiciness, with a side dose of Rick Wakeman‘s orch archness, but escaping the false allure of easy listening. There may be no surprises in Alexeeff’s repertoire that’s on offer here, yet the former prodigy – who attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at the age of seven – has found fabulous hues to make the time-tested pieces shine anew, a variety of keyboards on display adding different dimensions to the ageless favorites.
While the record starts in a rather traditional way, acoustic piano ripples storming across the first part of Sonata Pathétique before electric instruments, which ebb in the background, come to the fore and run the game, Victor’s fingers paint a cosmic drama further on. However, if other Beethoven’s evergreens get high on the waves of analog synthesizers, “Rondo allegro” from the same Sonata No. 8 in C Minor giving retrofuturistic sonics to the drift, “Allegretto” from his Symphony No. 7 has electronica and delicate groove attached to it and trades tragedy for a slightly bombastic reading with a countrified undercurrent. Still, Moonlight Sonata is suitably spaced-out, Alexeeff’s arrangement gently applying sci-fi effects to faux strings, until Vivaldi’s Summer opts for organic vibes and oscillating Moog’s riffs, whereas Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor brings the piano back to distill this perennial to electronica and flesh out in organ again.
As for Toccata and Fugue in D, that’s the only fantasy-laden folly on this album – mostly because, by successfully trying to foray into rock territory, Victor follows in the wake of EKSEPTION and SKY, and, being a one-man band, fails short of reaching their scope, although not for the lack of ambition. And this is exactly how classics must be approached.