Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bond Reclassified

Fans of the string quartet Bond will get the pun in the title.

I'm not sure where I first learned of the group. I used to belong to the now gone BMG Music Club (which has turned things over to yourmusic.com, a sad situation, as yourmusic.com just doesn't do the job as well as BMG did - in their sales e-mails, they push groups or performers of whom I've never heard, and none of them classical music artists), which picked them as Selected Recordings on occasion. I seem to recall my Mom telling me about them, too. At any rate, I added their "Best of" recording, Explosive, to my collection last year. It's a DualDisc that has the CD on one side and a DVD on the other. The DVD includes the entire CD in Surround Sound, plus has their music videos. And for Christmas I was thrilled to get their performance DVD from 2001, Bond - Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

For those not in the know about Bond, checking out the links I've included will reveal that the quartet consists of four very hot babes playing the string instruments of a string quartet (two violins, a viola, and a 'cello). Their web site claims that they are the "MOST POPULAR STRING QUARTET IN THE HISTORY OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY." Problem is, they aren't a string quartet. The lead performers are a quartet, but they have keyboard players, a small string ensemble, guitar and bass players, plus percussion and drummers as part of the group.

Their repertoire consists of original works, plus arrangements of classical music gone electric. At first, I just thought that they might be controversial, but didn't really question their classical music classification. But it was brought up in an interview included on the Royal Albert Hall DVD that, in Britain, they had been "banned" from the classical charts. My knee-jerk reaction was what is typical of me when I hear of art work being banned, which was a mild case of outrage. It wasn't until I went back to the CD in preparation for this entry that I realized that, not only are they not a quartet, they aren't classical performers, either.

That's not to say that they aren't a blast to hear, and even more of one to watch. I like them, a lot, and I like what I suspect are the disturbances the group causes classical music snobs. I'm sure they have the talent to play classical string quartet repertoire; they even have some tracks played using acoustic instruments.

But the CD is not going back into the classical music bookcase; nor are the ones I have on order (by the way, I have got to stop this blog from leading me to buy more music!).

The thing is, even though they use classical music in some of their performances, that doesn't make them classicists. An analogy would go like this: I drive a vehicle made by GM. I'm sure there are common parts (nut, bolts, paint, adhesives) among their various offerings, but that doesn't make what I drive a Cadillac.

By all means, I recommend their recordings. It's fun stuff, very inspired, and a far sight better than the disco versions of some classical works that bubbled up during the '70s. Their original works are great. And, finally, they are, well, four very hot babes, along with being talented musicians. But their CDs belong on the shelf with the pop-rock recordings.

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