Music » Critics' Picks

Christopher O'Riley performs the music of Radiohead

Thursday, September 25; Sheldon Concert Hall


The purpose of music is to lift the listener from one state of mind into another. By the simple act of creating sounds in patterns, musicians have the ability to induce states of mind, transporting the listener to any number of inner destinations. Unfortunately, too many writers, performers and music fans have forgotten this and have given up on the search for new places to send us.

Every so often, an artist or band breaks through to mainstream popular culture and manages to transcend the glut of pap floating on the surface there. Classical pianist Christopher O'Riley believes that Radiohead is one of those few acts whose music deserves more than a casual listen; at least that's what he demonstrated when he transcribed fifteen of the band's songs and recorded True Love Waits (Christopher O'Riley Plays Radiohead). The LP is a collection of the British quintet's finest moments, masterfully re-imagined for solo piano, and it reveals the inherent beauty of their compositions.

It's not as if this sort of thing hasn't been attempted before. We've all been in elevators. What's different is the fact that a critically acclaimed classical pianist finds enough in the songs of a million-album-selling rock band to transcribe them into soliloquies for piano that call to mind Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, often within the span of a single song. Through these excursions, fans of classical music will likely come to appreciate Radiohead's sublime mastery of the musical language, while fans of Radiohead will be dazzled anew.

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