Tony Banks - Seven: A Suite for Orchestra - Spring Tide

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Banksian Central
Published at : 09 Dec 2020
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We now move on to 'Seven'. It is Tony's first classical album. Here is some info. on the album:

'Seven: A Suite for Orchestra' is the first classical solo album by Tony Banks. It was released by Naxos Records in 2004. The suite is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Mike Dixon. Tony plays piano on "Spring Tide", "The Ram" and "The Spirit of Gravity." It is his sixth studio album (and eighth album overall).

Recorded at Air Studios (Lyndhurst) Ltd., England, on 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 9th July 2002. Piano: Tony Banks, recorded at The Farm Studio
Orchestrated by Simon Hale
Engineered by Nick Wollage and Rupert Coulson
Produced by Nick Davis and Tony Banks

On March 29, 2004, Tony Banks released his first orchestral album, Seven (Naxos 8.557466). It is the logical continuation of works like "Firth Of Fifth" (1973), "Mad Man Moon" (1976), "One For The Vine" (1977), 'The Wicked Lady' (1983) or "An Island In The Darkness" (1995).

So the B-side of 'The Wicked Lady' was recorded by a symphonic orchestra, too. There are, however crucial differences. Tony enjoyed only limited artistic freedom with 'The Wicked Lady' because the score had to fit the film. At that time he was also working on 'The Fugitive' (1983) which kept him so busy that he had to give a lot of freedom to Christopher Palmer to arrange the music as he saw fit. A comparison of the orchestral arrangements with Tony's original keyboard recordings shows the difference.

When the 'Seven' project, which began soon after the end of the '...Calling All Stations...' tour, took shape, things were to be different. Tony gave free reign to his musical genius for all seven parts of this recording. The term "suite for orchestra" that is the official subtitle is misleading. These are seven completely independent pieces that do not share any musical themes. Indeed, they were not even all written especially for this project. Simon Hale, the arranger, was called in because the orchestral arrangements with his cooperation would turn out better as if Tony, who had neither real knowledge nor experience in this field, had done it himself. Unlike Palmer in 1983, Hale was not allowed to change anything about the structure, development of melodies and continuation of harmonies, information he obtained from Tony's recorded (but probably not written) detailed demos. The broad variety of instruments in the orchestra, however, left enough space to shape the music. He developed a number of major and minor ideas that were discussed, modified and finally approved or turned down by Tony.

After initial difficulties on the first recording day the suite was recorded early in July 2002 by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mike Dixon (who already had some experience with musicals). Tony, Simon and co-producer Nick Davis were also present. Tony recorded the piano parts for three of the pieces at The Farm. These piano parts are part of the orchestral sound, they are not meant to turn the pieces into some kind of piano concerto.

The title, 'Seven', underlines the individuality of the seven pieces; their titles were chosen later and they are meant to be generic, not filled with content and a deeper meaning, which holds true for the first six pieces.

"Spring Tide" opens the suite with a merrily bubbling theme first presented by flute and piano (resembling "Mad Man Moon") before it moved on to a calmly flowing lyrical part. The majestic main theme begins at 3:01. It takes turns with the introductory theme (which is reprised explicitly at 5:48), dominates the lyrical part of the piece. It also leads the spring tide to a peak at 8:02 before it slowly ebbs away.


This introductory movement of the suite is one of the three pieces that have a piano part and the one in which Tony's instrument is very noticeable.


Aficionados of British music have likened "Spring Tide" to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).
Tony BanksMike DixonSeven: A Suite for Orchestra

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