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CD Feature/ Jan Vogler: "My Tunes"

img  Tobias

Okay, let’s put an easy stamp on it: Jan Vogler is playing “show pieces”. Twelve overall, most of them barely touching the four minute mark. He has embraced whistle-along melodies, the fireside cozyness of sweet harmonies, the “big” tunes and the big names: Bach pops up on two tracks, Tchaikovsky on three. What’s more: Jan Vogler returns to his childhood memories. The album title is a play on words. He performs “Moon River”. And yet, this is an important album.

Certainly that word does not hold the same meaning it once did. Don’t expect queues outside your classical record store, screaming girls, groupies or Voglers face on the covers of “Rolling Stone Magazine” or “Vogue”. And, to get back to earth, don’t even expect format radio to spin “My Tunes” anytime soon – after all, this is still a “serious” CD. On the surface, there is not too much of a difference between what  Jan does on this record and Joshua Bell’s “Romance of the Violin”. After all, isn’t he, too, favouring his emotional favourites over high-browed elitism and concentrating on what made most people fall in love with classical music in the first place – great melodies? Vogler is the first to admit that all of these pieces carry a personal meaning and that their beauty has accompanied him since his childhood. And still, the difference between the polished and shining dream world of Bell and the very direct and personal cosmos of “My Tunes” is obvious: This is an album about the emigration wave from Russia to the USA, a “symbolic journey from St. Petersburg to New York”, a plea for a world without cultural, political and creative chains. The relative shortness of the tracks is not a sign of a lack of ambition, but points to a different train of thought: In a world of very immediate consequences, there is no point in embellishment. Everything, the deepest sadness, the most ecstatic joy, the most heavenly plesasure and the torture of solitude or fear of death can and must be expressed without deviations or elese their effect will be distorted, deminished or even destroyed. It is a very human music, which Vogler plays with the essential combination of distance and intimacy.

For one, the disc is an irresistible statement for all music fans, not just the experts. Vogler has taken the “encore” from its sugar-coated pedestal and put it center-stage, where it develops a powerful magnetism. And secondly, by doing this with his Cello, he is applying a different set of colours, tastes and sonorities to a scene sometimes saturated by the violin. “My Tunes” is not just a feelgood album, a political album, a demanding album or a commercial one. It is all of this at once and that is what makes it important.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Jan Vogler
Homepage: Sony Classical

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