Pop stars pick classics for 'Exile'

August 18, 1996|By BILLBOARD

For years, Keith Richards has indulged a habit not uncommon among rock and rollers: listening to classical music.

In fact, it was the Rolling Stones' publicly proclaimed taste for Mozart and Bach that helped inspire "Exile on Classical Street," an innovative attempt by London Records to get the younger set hip to the sounds of yesterday while raising money for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) Foundation.

"Exile on Classical Street" is a compilation of the favorite classical pieces of a dozen of the world's biggest pop stars. Musicians from Paul McCartney to Bono, from Michael Stipe to Frank Sinatra, selected a diverse array of orchestral, chamber and vocal works that range from the baroque era to modern times.

The first artist to come on board the "Exile" project was Elvis Costello, a rocker well-known for his enthusiastic classical affiliations. Among his initial choices were a lament by Elizabethan lutenist John Dowland and a choral work by 20th-century composer Benjamin Britten. His final nod went to "Sposa Son Disprezetta," a Vivaldi song rendered by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

For Beach Boy Brian Wilson, there was only one choice, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue."

Other artists' picks on "Exile": from Richards, Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4, third movement; from McCartney, the Courtly Dances from Britten's opera "Gloriana," in arrangements by guitarist Julian Bream; from Bono, the largo from Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8; from Stipe, Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings; and from Sinatra, Claude Debussy's "Clair De Lune."

Also included: from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, "Ritual Fire Dance" by Manuel de Falla; from Marianne Faithfull, Richard Strauss' "Beim Schlafengehen," one of his Four Last Songs; and from Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin, an excerpt from Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."

The performers on "Exile" include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Borodin String Quartet, Itzhak Perlman and Kiri Te Kanawa. Maestros include Sir Georg Solti, Charles Dutoit, James Levine and David Zinman.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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