Listening to Symphonex Orchestra’s album «Music That Tells A Story» got me thinking about author Hans Christian Andersen’s famous quote «Where words fail, music speaks.» Here the music adds an extra dimension to a beautifully told love story, and some other inspiring tales as well. It makes it into a fascinating and highly original album with almost endless replay possibilities.
Guitarist/composer Peter Xifaras is the creative force behind the Symphonex Orchestra. Peter’s body of work ranges from classical to contemporary.
Where to start
Anyone who is into audiobooks (or movies for that matter) knows how sound and music is being used to make a story more engaging. On «Music That Tells a Story» Peter takes it one step further. Here the music comes first (on disc 1) , while the story is told afterwards (on disc 2). The layout is the same as on Enigma’s highly successful album «The Fall of the Rebel Angel». I think it is a wonderful effect, and it adds context and substance to both music and story. I found myself going back and forth, always finding new and interesting perspectives.
First out is the «Dreams in Bloom» section, starting with «The Encounter». In the story the woman meets the man during a dramatic incident in her hometown, and he saves her. The song has a great rhythm and an impressive orchestral arrangement. You can feel the tension building. «Falling» is a contrast to this. The main character is glad to be alive, but that is not much comfort when looking at how much she has lost. The song portrays this feeling beautifully.
Garden by the Sea
In the «Garden by the sea» things are starting to look better, yet it is far from perfect. «The Letter» adds context to the relationship between her and him. I love the Eastern influences on this track. The story develops, and it is turning into an intriguing tale of doubt and miscommunication on «The Quest», then ending with «The Reunion». I’m not going to give any spoilers, because this is a story you have to experience for yourself. Once again the orchestral arrangement is amazing, starting and ending with wind chimes.
«Dinner with Friends» is a playful and bubbly song. Peter tells that the song is inspired by a reunion of friends who had not seen each other for more than 25 years. The song reflects the feeling of joy, love and good company. If that is not an inspired song, I don’t know what is.
Theme of Tromboncino
My favorite part of the album is the three versions of “Theme of Tromboncino”. These contemporary variations sung in Italian derive from the song Ostinato vo’ seguire by Bartolomeo Tromboncino, published circa 1500. #1 has a wonderful laid-back guitar and violin arrangement, while #2 has a nice pop sound. On #3 the piano has center stage. The song has a very well made build-up, making it into a worthy end for this section.
I also love the two Gymnopedie Variations, based on two piano pieces composed by French composer Erik Satie.
Enjoy this video – it is magnificent!
«Music that Tells a Story» by Symphonex Orchestra is a hybrid release; it is not just an album, and it is not just a story. This rare 2-in-1 design makes it into one of 2018 most interesting and inspiring New Age music releases. Highly recommended!
Score: 92/100 – See how I rate music here
Make sure to visit Symphonex.band to purchase the album.
Also check out our very special Mixcast dedicated to «Music That Tells A Story». If you are a fan of Enigma or Era, see how beautifully Peter Xifaras’ music blends in. He is on par with Michael Cretu or Eric Levi. But don’t take my word for it, just listen: