Christopher O'Riley

    Hold Me to This: Christopher O’Riley Plays Radiohead

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    World Village - April 5, 2005

    Whether they’re using solo piano, string quartet or full symphony
    orchestras, there’s something a tad dubious about classical renditions
    of pop music. Most of them come off as wet-noodles, lame attempts to
    validate the musical quirks of rock ‘n’ roll, as if we needed the
    London Symphony Orchestra to tell us Led Zeppelin were more than just
    blues musicians with fat wallets or that Dark Side of the Moon
    was more than just a score for a Judy Garland flick. What makes
    Christopher O’Riley so remarkable, though, is that his relationship
    with Radiohead has nothing to do with patronizing rock stars and
    everything to do with a classical pianist’s flat-out admiration if
    not obsession with five middle-aged rock musicians from Oxford.

    [more:]

    His first set of Radiohead transcriptions, as collected in 2003’s True Love Waits,
    were first and foremost a fan’s take on the quintet. Classics like
    “Black Star” and “Knives Out” received truly worthy renditions
    O’Riley’s unadorned keys laying bare some of the best rock melodies of
    the ’90s while still tinkering enough with Thome Yorke’s
    post-millennial equations so you couldn’t guess the sums.

    Hold Me to This is an attempt to reap the fruits of O’Riley’s research into the group’s back pages. Rarities like “How I Made My Millions,” an OK Computer B-side, and “Cuttooth,” culled from the more recent Hail to the Thief
    sessions, do well in displaying both O’Riley’s virtuosity and his
    record collection. There is real thrill in hearing the one-time Ravel
    and Bach performer’s take on stompers like “There There” and
    “Polyethylene Part II,” even if it sometimes becomes clear that a
    Steinway, no matter how talented the guy is who’s twinkling the
    ivories, is no match for an old-fashioned Tele. O’Riley’s enthusiasm
    shines, but certainly not more so than his subjects.

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    “I Didn’t Understand” mp3

    “Punchdrunk” mp3

    Christopher O’Riley Web site

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