The Strad issue
A diverting but diffuse mix of quasi-Vivaldi, Minimalism and jazz
David Le Page (violin/viola) Nick Stringfellow (cello) Meherban Gillett (double bass) David Gordon (harpsichord) Graham Instrall (percussion)
David Le Page
As well as leading the Orchestra of the Swan, an adventurous chamber orchestra based in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, British violinist David Le Page works as a composer, arranger and bandleader. This recording project, a chamber suite of his pieces, demonstrates his key influences and passions: Baroque showmanship, theatrical and film music, and improvisation. With its storm-effects opening followed by legato strings and harpsichord, The Reinvention of Harmony and Imagination immediately pins its key inspiration to the mast – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. From this Vivaldi-esque sound palette Le Page develops a jazz–Minimalist fusion that showcases his soloing ability and creamy tone – he plays an 1874 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
With the accompaniment dominated by homogeneous string figures and use of production effects, the result feels like a sophisticated TV drama soundtrack. Le Page has a flair for melody, such as the high, yearning tune ‘Passacaglia’, that morphs into an overwrought piece of theatricality with Arvo Pärt-style chord-work. His arrangements are mostly tightly focused but where they are not – ‘The Vision’, at over six minutes – the charm of his diverse tunes wears thin. Good fun as it is, The Reinvention of Harmony and Imagination would have benefited from some judicious editing.