Dick Tunney: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra: The Monkees
Jeffrey Biegel (Piano), Orchestra Kentucky, Jeffrey Reed (Conductor)
Recording: Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, Bowling Green, Kentucky (January 26, 2015) – 15’11
Orchestra Kentucky (CD Baby - #889211490837) - Download only available via Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby
While Beatlemania was all the rage in the 1960s, the lesser known musical commodity, The Monkees, was striving for duplicate success. Created in 1965, the four-man pop/rock band paved their own way with a niche following that shadowed under the better-known Brits. Grammy Award winning Dick Tunney recently created a three-movement symphonic arrangement with the help of Orchestra Kentucky’s conductor Jeffrey Reed and pianistic skills of Jeffrey Biegel. If someone wants to jump back into time for a quick retro-flashback set against a classical beat, Tunney’s Concerto will surely bring instantaneous happiness.
The music is a condensed virtual run-though featuring some of The Monkees’ most memorable songs for television and screen. Tunney’s modernistic framework, akin to Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, possesses richly developed orchestration and reminds one of Canadian composer, David Foster. Jeffrey Reed instantly commands attention in tutti orchestra with a soon-to-follow Gershwin-like entrance to entrée Jeffrey Biegel’s earthy, organic portrayal. The music propels unabashedly with excitement, delight and ebullience.
Seldom do we hear a fluency on the level of Jeffrey Biegel’s. Don’t let this diminutive album fool you, for Mr. Biegel can be regarded as one of a handful of pianistes extraordinaires who transitions with pliancy and flexibility as a cross-over artist (see earlier reviews: ”Life According to Chopin” and ”A Grand Romance”.)
Mr. Reed’s reading of The Monkees’ ‘best’ is adroit and pleasantly punctuated, featuring such favorites as Hey, hey we’re The Monkees, Last Train to Clarkesville, I’m a Believer and Steppin’ Stone. Sentimental renditions of Daydream Believer and I Wanna be Free weave their way into the score and a more pensive The Porpoise Song is culled from the band’s movie, Head.
The music which Dick Tunney has created is quite emotional with clauses of vivid ornamentation that will harken back to the likes of Korngold and Copland. A concise interpretation of this pithy little-ditty will make anyone a believer of The Monkees. A beautiful tribute.