Edvin Marton’s “Stradivarius” album

I think I’m ready to at least do an overview of this album…

Anyone who’s followed my blog (especially within the last 2 years- where I might have gotten the majority of whatever following I have- I don’t know) knows how I found Edvin Marton.
He’s composed/arranged music for my favorite figure skater, Evgeni Plushenko.

But after seeing most of Plushenko’s programs set to his music, I checked out a couple YouTube videos of Edvin doing his own music. Just to see if I would feel the same way without the benefit of Plushenko skating on screen.

The first video I picked was his performance of “Ibiza” with his all-girl band… and it was love.
After seeing its video, “Fanatico” (which will be featured in his new album) was among my first iTunes purchases EVER. (At the same time I bought 2 original songs from American Idol finalists that they performed during the competition… just in case it was a long time before they released albums. Still waiting for one from Jessica Meuse).
But if given the chance, I always like to own physical copies of music. So when I saw at least one of his albums (notably, one that had “Ibiza” was one of the tracks… I got “Tosca Fantasy” as part of a free giveaway) had been physically released on Amazon, I jumped at the chance.

iTunes are great, but I want the opportunity to play it in stereo because his music needs that free reign.

I’d listened through the album maybe 5 times now. And I think I’m confident enough where I know what my favorite are and what I want to discuss with each one.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. I wanted to be careful not to listen to it too much, work through it slowly, so I don’t lose the magic of his music. It isn’t to say I fell out of love with music, but I fell more in love with it than I had in a while listening to his genius and skill.

And so far, the magic hasn’t vanished. Sometimes when certain songs don’t grab me the same way, I am afraid something is wrong. Then I realize that the magic doesn’t leave- it transfers to other songs. Other songs are able to shine brighter because they weren’t overshadowed by my favorites.

That may still be the case with one song, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

For starters, there are only 2 songs I’m leaving off the album completely, that I skip when I get to them.
Considering the album has 18 songs on it, that’s a huge compliment.

I’m sure “Crazy Violin” (really, that’s the name?) is something Edvin wanted to do just to have fun and to do something a little different… but for me, it doesn’t fit his image. The idea of a Stradivarius playing a hoe-down southern type tune like “Cotton Eye Joe”… it almost feels sacrilegious… in my mind, anyway, it doesn’t work.
But I’m also not a fan of bluegrass music and the only country I like is Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

“Paganini 5” is the one track I flat out don’t like. There’s not much of a melody to it. The violin goes all the place on the scales one minute and the next, it sounds frantic.
Edvin’s violin playing has many different depths and colors to it. But that song feels like a lot of black and gray, storms brewing with no sign of relief in sight.

As for the song I’m uncertain about… I think I’ll give it another listen. So I can think of it alone and not comparing it to anything else.
“Ice Symphony” has its ups and downs for me. There’s a dramatic section I don’t like so much and there’s a beautiful melodic section that I love. Once it’s heard in violin and the second in piano with almost no backing from other instruments. It’s tied as the third longest track on the album, so for me, it’s a little repetitive and runs long.

It also doesn’t help that it directly follows “Ibiza.”

Okay- time to go one track at a time. Saying why I like the songs and also some of the visuals and feelings that come to mind when I listen.
Music in general is always about individual experience- what each person feels for the song that makes it special for them.

“Tosca Fantasy” (not counting the compilation of his music Edvin put together for Plushenko’s Sochi free skate) was the first song I heard by him.
And it truly is something special. It’s based off a piece from a famous opera. The melody is the same in the beginning, but after it builds, he puts together a section that goes by a different tempo and has more flourishes happening.
When Plushenko skates to it, it’s always something special. And I’d felt many things listening to it. But mainly, I am completely spell-bound and I know everything is going to be all right in the end. [I was overwhelmed by the attacks in Paris and watching one video of them collaborating with this song made me feel like I had solid ground to stand on again].

To follow Tosca is a huge order, obviously… so I am very happy to say his take on “Vivaldi Spring” is the next track. It’s one of my favorite classical pieces (actually I thought this whole time it was Beethoven), but he makes it sounds fresh and new. It goes very quickly in those three minutes over three different sections- the classical section everyone recognizes, a break down with some fast violin playing, and a reintroduction to the classical but in lower key.
It’s as if someone went to a ball or a party from the Victorian age and put a modern take on it. Beautiful but also a lot of fun.

“Rio Carnevale” took me a while to warm up to, but now I have. To me, it feels like a different type of tango or Paso Doble piece where a senorita in a long flowing skirt and a flower in her hair can get sassy with it.
It also has a nice quick tempo.

“Badinerie”
The other day I was listening it and felt like I was back at that Victorian ball. It’s very classical, but also uptempo. My original criticism was that it was a tad repetitive and there wasn’t a lot to take away from it.
But I have plenty now. I also thought that it reminds me of someone like Mozart or Bach because of the organ or harpsichord in the background. Sure enough, I look at the album notes and it was co-credited to Bach. He did have a thing about organs.
Going with the theme I have going, I feel like it would be good for a female solo or even a group of women flirting with the men at this dance party.

“Romeo & Juliet” is a piece a lot of people know- especially figure skating buffs because almost everyone has skated to it at some point. It’s so beautiful. Not much to really say about it. Especially since it had the misfortunate of being cut down to 93 seconds. I assume this move was to fit an additional song on the album.
Personally, I might have made “Ice Symphony” a little shorter :shrug:

It immediately is followed by “Dramatico”- at first I thought it was him playing “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson because there is a video of him playing a mash-up of “Beat It” and “Smooth Criminal.” [I just double-checked: it was actually “Bad” and “Billie Jean”]
According to his album notes, he wrote it for a golden medal winning program for a couple of skaters.
But I don’t think it’s on YouTube… too bad, it’d give me more to talk about.
The “Smooth Criminal” section goes for some time, but then it breaks down and there’s just synths building in the background with the violin in the forefront.

“My Love is Deep” caught me by surprise because I didn’t expect any singing on this album.
It’s very haunting and beautiful at the same time. I just love getting lost in it.
His violin is barely featured at all, but I don’t care. The whole vibe of the piece is what I love.
There’s a piece I liked on YouTube that gave me the same vibe- it’s called “Dark Angel”

“Bellydance” became one of my favorite easily within seconds.
I feel like I’m in a Bollywood scene or an Indian wedding listening to it. It is such fun.

“Love in Venice”
I wasn’t thinking Venice when I heard this… but then with most of these, I don’t often remember the title of the song. I just listen and remember my favorites.
A beautiful melody that’s played through multiples times, but with different instruments and in different keys. Very simple and effective.

“Tchaikovsky Remix”- I didn’t like at first, but within the 2nd or 3rd listen, I found so much to like about it. It’s a compilation of 4-5 different pieces. Each has a different aspect to it. It starts out very melodic with some fast-paced music. Then it slows down with a couple of flourishes, really building up the tension for the next part. It comes back up with a bridge that puts the remix in the title, again building towards the next part. Overall, this is like an opus or its own mini opera.
The experience is different each time I go through and different parts are highlighted… almost like it represents how I feel about this album in general. It’s never the same album twice. And I love that. Keeps things exciting 😉

“Ibiza” is by far my 2nd favorite from the album… I didn’t find out until after the fact [when I tweeted about it] that this is the name of a region or a city in South America. That would explain the cha-cha/samba vibe happening.
The other day, I figured it out on my keyboard… and it was actually not that difficult.
I love it when Edvin’s music goes up and down a scale- it makes things so much easier for me to remember and also to figure out.
The melody drew me in and kept me for pretty much the whole time. It goes between that and another section where it’s not about melody, but about rhythm.

It’s interesting comparing those two songs… one has a great amount of variety, but that variety shows all the different talents he has with his playing and arranging. The other has two distinct parts to it, like a verse and a chorus.

“Ice Symphony” I already went into… still undecided about how much I like it. Probably will change ever time.

“O Sole Mio”
It reminds me of something I would hear at an Italian restaurant… or something I’d hear in the Greek Isles or it reminds me of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Mamma Mia!
Either way, it’s one of the nicer pieces here. It takes me away to another place and that’s why Edvin sets out to do with his music. He goes to another universe and wants to take us on a journey with him.

“Hungarian Rhapsody No.6” starts out very dark and depressing… I recognize the Death March- esque opening. But after a minute, it gets better. The violin starts moving faster until it goes into a nice melodic section where he just plays around with different chords. Starts out completely different than how it finishes and I like that it gets a little more optimist and happy as it progresses.

“Fireworks” I think will be extra special now whenever I listen to it. I’m going to remember how it was part of Edvin’s PBS special [wrote a post about that last week].
It has that other-level magic that Tosca and some of his other Plushenko program pieces have. Almost indescribable at times what it’s like.
The playing style reminds me a bit of Vanessa Mae (my dad discovered her when he traveled to Singapore, got a bunch of her CD’s there). She plays with an electric violin and this sounds very much like that.
It goes back and forth between slow strokes and fast. Then it goes to another place where the music changes around a little, the melody goes away and it gets more dramatic. But the same vibe remains.

It is so good that I’m afraid to overplay it just for the sake of refreshing my memory.

“C’est La Vie” was a nice note to end on.
When I first heard it, I was feeling a little down about the album.

The first listen was amazing for quite some time. I loved nearly every song. Just after a while, maybe I was starting to get tired of violin music. As crazy as that sounds. Too much of a good thing, I guess.
Most of the tracks I was unsure about, they were in the second half of the album (two of them are ones I plain am not crazy about).

So “C’est La Vie” was something different. Another vocalist came in [I know Lou Bega specifically for his song “Mambo No. 5”- I remember when it came out] and sang while Edvin just played a sweet little violin in the background.
It’s about going with the flow and enjoying love in your life.

The line “you shouldn’t be scared of me” could be misinterpreted, possibly… at least in this day and age.
But at the time it was written, there was a good-natured intention most likely.

Either way, song always makes me smile at the end of the album. And I’m almost kinda sad when I get there because I enjoy spending time with Edvin and his beautiful music and arranging.

Many of the pieces are originals, which is cool. I also like that he likes the classics, but also likes some rock music too. Many different tastes and I’m sure every person that listens to him will have different songs they connect with.

I’m so glad I asked for it for Christmas last year.
Except now I think I need to take a break from it. That way it’ll be nice and fresh when I picked it back up the next time.

I may update this post in the future when I have more to say, but this is good for now.

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