Review of Tarja’s “Beauty & the Beat”

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Review by Brian Kelman
© Ethereal Metal Webzine
7/6/2014

Classical Tarja Hits All The Right Notes

Fans that like classical music are going to greatly enjoy
“Beauty & the Beat”.

Mike: “It’s
obvious that I provide the BEAT & Tarja provides the BEAUTY.”

Tarja: “Our main
goal with these kinds of concerts is that the younger audience experiences the
beauty and power of a symphonic orchestra and choir. Hopefully it will serve as
an introduction to classical music for some of our fans.”

  Fans who are hoping
for this to be another of her regular solo albums are going to be disappointed
as are fans who don’t like classical music. However, no one who hasn’t been
living under a rock for the last two years should be caught off guard given
that the “Beauty & the Beat” concept has been in the works for years (and
YouTube featured fan made videos of the tour for over a year).

  That Tarja Turunen
would have an idea for a classical concert event is no surprise since she has
studied classical voice (Art Song) and performed classical concerts in Europe
and South America since she was a teenager. But this idea had a twist. It
included Mike Terrana and his monster drum kit in addition to Tarja, an
orchestra, and choir. On September 21st, 2011 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the first
ever “Beauty & the Beat” concert was performed in an ancient Roman
amphitheater. The response to this trial was overwhelmingly positive from
participants, fans and critics alike. There was no question that the “Beauty
& the Beat” concept would be revisited.

  In 2012, it was
announced that a 16 show “Beauty & the Beat” concert tour spanning 9
countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Russia, Estonia, Finland,
Mexico and Peru) from March 30th to June 30th, 2013, was on. In addition,
Tarja’s label, earMUSIC, announced that the three sold out concerts in Zlin,
Czech Republic (April 4th, 5th and 6th), would be recorded for a future
2CD/DVD/Blu-ray release. That future is now with the much anticipated and
publicized release of Tarja and Mike’s “Beauty & the Beat”.

  Sharing the stage
with Tarja and Mike and providing an enchanting atmosphere was the 55 piece
Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Walter Attanasi) and the
55 voice Pěvecký Masarykovy Univerzity Brno Choir.

  This massive
undertaking has yielded massive results. “Beauty & the Beat” successfully
created the symphony/opera house atmosphere where the audience watches and
listens and then politely claps after each song (even with the odd whistle and
cheer from the rockers and metalheads in the audience).

  CD 1 contains
selections from many famous composers from the Baroque to Modern Eras. Some of
the compositions may be more familiar than others. Mike kick starts the concert
with “Concert for Violin & Oboe” (J.S. Bach) displaying ‘fervent restraint’
as he expertly synchronizes with the orchestra without the wild bravado that
characterizes his rock and metal shows. His dexterity and skill is outstanding
throughout the concert. Tarja, with all her grace and charm, commands the stage
as only she can. Ardent classical fans will be captivated by her command of her
tracks and the power and beauty of her voice.

Fans less ardent for classical music will gravitate to CD 2.
It contains the more familiar tracks. They represent a mix of covers (“Take My
Breath Away”—Freddie Mercury and the Led Zeppelin Medley”) plus songs from
Tarja’s rock/metal recording career performed with classical arrangements. Even
Mike gets to sing a number (“Fly Me To The Moon”) and man can he carry a tune!
The disc wraps up with “Into The Sun” and Tarja’s signature, “I Walk Alone”.

  The Blu-ray’s
tracklist is in a different order than the 2CD. The more familiar covers and
rock numbers performed with a classical arrangement are interspersed among the
classical ones rather than the more strict separation on the CDs.
Interestingly, I find the differing tracklists are appropriate for the formats
they are on. The CDs provide choice depending on the person’s preference and
the Blu-ray’s provide a fine balance to the concert as a whole.

  Mike kick starts
the concert with “Concert for Violin & Oboe” (J.S. Bach) displaying
‘fervent restraint’ as he expertly syncs with the orchestra without the wild
bravado that characterizes his rock and metal shows. His dexterity and skill is
outstanding throughout the concert. Tarja, with all her grace and charm,
commands the stage as only she can. Ardent classical fans will be captivated by
her command of the stage and the power and beauty of her classical voice.

  The production of
the album in terms of audio and visual is first class all the way; kudos to the
producers for recording the live performance so well. “Beauty & the Beat”
has laid claim to an overwhelming artistic success. Whether it is a commercial
success only the future will determine. They only thing I would find better
than listening to the CDs or watching the Blu-ray would be to attend the
concert live in person. Here are the tracklists for the Blu-ray and the 2CD
since they differ.

Overall Rating: 4.75/5 (Because they could have come up with a better
cover….)

Blu-ray

1 Carmen Overture

2 Mike–Concert for Violin & Oboe (J.S. Bach)

3 Mike–Blute Nur (J.S. Bach)

4 Tarja–Zueignung – Op. 10, N.1 (R. Strauss)

5 Mike–Barber of Seville (G. Rossini)

6 Mike–New World Symphony (A. Dvorak)

7 Tarja–Song to the Moon (A. Dvorak)

8 Tarja–Vilja Lied (F. Lehar)

9 Tarja–O Mio Babbino Caro (Puccini)

10 Tarja & Mike–The Reign

Intermission

11 Tarja–You Take My Breath Away (F. Mercury)

12 Tarja & Mike–Witch Hunt

13 Tarja & Mike–Medley (Led Zeppelin)

           Kashmir

           Immigrant
Song

           Stairway
To Heaven

           Kashmir

14 Tarja & Mike–Swanheart (Nightwish)

15 Mike–Cancan (J. Offenbach)

16 Tarja–Mein Herr Marquis (R. Strauss)

17 Tarja & Mike–Fly Me to the Moon (F. Sinatra)

18 Tarja & Mike–Into The Sun

Encore

19 Mike–William Tell Overture (G. Rossini)

20 Tarja–I Feel Pretty (Bernstein)

21 Mike–Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (W. Mozart)

22 Tarja & Mike–I Walk Alone

2CD

Disc 1

1 Mike–Concert for Violin & Oboe (J.S. Bach)

2 Tarja–Blute Nur (J.S. Bach)

3 Tarja–Zueignung – Op. 10, N.1 (R. Strauss)

4 Mike–Barber of Seville (G. Rossini)

5 Mike–New World Symphony (A. Dvorak)

6 Tarja–Song to the Moon (A. Dvorak)

7 Tarja–Vilja Lied (F. Lehar)

8 Tarja–O Mio Babbino Caro (Puccini)

9 Mike–Cancan (J. Offenbach)

10 Tarja–I Feel Pretty (Bernstein)

11 Mike–William Tell Overture (G. Rossini)

12 Tarja–Mein Herr Marquis (R. Strauss)

13 Mike–Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (W. Mozart)

Disc 2

1 Tarja–You Take My Breath Away (F. Mercury)

2 Tarja & Mike–The Reign

3 Tarja & Mike–Witch Hunt

4 Tarja & Mike–Medley (Led Zeppelin)

           Kashmir

           Immigrant
Song

           Stairway
To Heaven

           Kashmir

5 Tarja & Mike–Swanheart (Nightwish)

6 Tarja & Mike–Fly Me to the Moon (F. Sinatra)

7 Tarja & Mike–Into The Sun

8 Tarja & Mike–I Walk Alone

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