Ok - You may be thinking I'm off my rocker. Interchanging Idioms is a Classical Music blog, right? Yes, and while I sometimes venture into other areas that are related, seldom do I outright plug the pop industry - they have enough exposure on their own.
However, Sting's latest CD "If On a Winter's Night..." is NOT venturing from the classical music focus. In collaboration with esteemed producer and arranger, Robert Sadin, "If On a Winter’s Night…" features traditional music of the British Isles as its starting point. Sting and guest musicians interpret a stirring collection of songs, carols, and lullabies including The Snow it Melts the Soonest (traditional Newcastle ballad), A Soalin’ (traditional English "begging" song) Gabriel's Message (14th century carol), Balulalow (lullaby by Peter Warlock) and Now Winter Comes Slowly (Henry Purcell). These are beautiful pieces and deserve to be classified as more than just popular music. Again, Sting has melded mainstream music with other genre's, this time classical music.
His new album is dedicated to his favorite season – Winter - a season which has inspired countless songwriters over the centuries and produced a wealth of music exploring all of its many guises. "If On a Winter's Night..." presents an arc of songs that conjures the season of spirits, resulting in a haunting, spiritual and reflective musical journey.
“The theme of winter is rich in inspiration and material,” comments Sting; “by filtering all of these disparate styles into one album I hope we have created something refreshing and new.” He continues, "Our ancestors celebrated the paradox of light at the heart of the darkness, and the consequent miracle of rebirth and the regeneration of the seasons.”
Two of Sting’s own compositions are also featured on the album, Lullaby for an Anxious Child and The Hounds of Winter, which originally appeared on his previous release Mercury Falling, alongside Hurdy Gurdy Man, - a musical reworking and English translation (by Sting) of Der Leiermann from Schubert's classic winter song-cycle Winterreise.
For this exploration of the themes and emotions of Winter, Sting is joined by friend and long time colleague, guitarist Dominic Miller. Additional guests include an ensemble of three remarkable musicians from Northern England and Scotland: Kathryn Tickell (fiddle and Northumbrian pipes) Julian Sutton (melodeon) and Mary MacMaster (metal string Scottish harp), along with Daniel Hope (violin), Vincent Ségal (cello), Chris Botti and Ibrahim Maalouf, (trumpet), Cyro Baptista and Bijan Chemirani (percussion), the Webb Sisters (vocals) and Stile Antico (vocal ensemble).