What do you get when you combine the talents of eminent string musicians with fresh and innovative compositions? You get the mesmerizing album “Only A Game” – a musical experience that transcends boundaries and takes you to new realities. Commissioned by Robert Shannon Fields for his ballet libretto decades ago in East Germany, “Only A Game” sees composer Gene Pritsker deliver a cohesive narrative through stirring string arrangements.
Grand and sweeping, the overture wastes no time in setting the stage for adventure. Track after track, the album unveils new sonic landscapes and emotional terrains crafted by Pritsker’s deft arrangements. At the helm are Wolfgang Schroeder on violin, Paul Cortese on viola, and Alberto Ferres on cello – together delivering nothing short of virtuosity in each movement.
The talented trio is first showcased in “Act I, Movement 1: A Typical German Bar”. Combing traditional arrangements with modern flourishes, the musicians conjure a sense of anticipation and excitement. Their technical precision and musical sensitivity is shown from the very start. The nostalgic and introspective “Act I, Movement 2: The Game Starts” finds the strings in delicate interplay, crafting an atmosphere that is grand and haunting.
Things take a dynamic turn with the ominously titled “Act II, Movement 3: Tic Tac Toe”. A darker undercurrent pervades as the implications of danger lurk ever nearer. The string trio rises admirably to the challenge with a performance both captivating and unpredictable. Meanwhile, “Act II, Movement 4: The Love Game” brings melancholia and bittersweetness through heartfelt melodies woven artfully between viola and cello.
A special treat arrives at “Act III, Movement 5: A Special Game” with the addition of renowned cellist Borislav Strulev. This collaboration with the trio results in nothing short of magic – a bewitching interplay of flair between four masters of their craft. The energy builds further into “Act III, Movement 6: Battle” through complex rhythms and syncopation that simulate the intensity of combat.
It all leads to the album’s triumphant conclusion. The grand finale piece “Love Theme From “Only A Game” – Bonus” brings back all the musical elements that make “Only A Game” so immersive and leaves a powerful, lasting impression. Wide-ranging melodies, intricate harmonies, and a sense of resolution work together to end the journey on the highest of notes.
As the strings converse in call-and-response, they mirror the intimate dialogue our souls continually carry out. Their fluid communication across barriers reflects how connection can naturally arise when we listen with open hearts. So when the album’s finale swells with resolution and release, one feels not just the euphoria of artistic achievement, but a renewed sense of hope.
To continue this journey of discovery, I encourage you to stream “Only A Game” and follow the incredible artists who brought it to life, especially the phenomenal Gene Pritsker.