The Essential Andreas Vollenweider
2000 / Sony Classical
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have to confess that in all the years I’ve been listening to new instrumental music, I’ve avoided Andreas Vollenweider because I really don’t like harp music. When I received a copy of The Essential Andreas Vollenweider for review, I kind of thought, “Oh great - another harp CD.” Vollenweider’s is such a huge and well-respected name that I decided that this would be an opportunity to educate myself. Many “best-of” and “greatest hits” albums are compiled by labels without any input from the artists, but this collection was chosen by Vollenweider himself from albums dating from 1981-1999. Several of the older tracks were remastered by Vollenweider, so this was a great chance to get to know a bit about this artist. It really didn’t surprise me that quite a few of the songs were familiar from radio play, but I was surprised that many of them I never would have guessed as being played on harp. Vollenweider developed his electracoustic harp, which has quite a different sound from the standard acoustic harp. In addition to the harp, Vollenweider sings and plays wind instruments, guitars, accordion, keyboards, percussion, and “special fx”. I was also surprised at how much I found myself enjoying this album! Musical influences can be heard from all over the world, and most of the music is lively, rhythmic, and infectious. I especially like “Moon Dance”, “Dancing With the Lion”, and Pace Verde”, but the album as a whole is a wonderful sampler for those of us who are relatively new to Vollenweider’s music, and is an excellent “best of” collection for his longtime fans. I will definitely be adding more of his music to my collection! The CD is multimedia-enhanced and contains the music video to “Pearls and Tears”. Highly recommended!
April 4, 2000