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on October 21, 2011 (October 21, 2011)
Treading the path of many revered rockers who have dared to dabble in classical music late in their careers, Tori Amos makes her Deutsche Grammophon debut with a contemporary song cycle drawing on the music of Bach, Schubert, Debussy et al. as a harmonic framework. Luckily, the patron saint of female singer-songwriters has the right mix of indie cred and training as a classical pianist (ending in rebellion) to pull it off in style.
The eclectic range of pieces that comprise Night of Hunters illumines Amos’s narrative of a relationship in crisis, told in a curious blend of mythical and prosaic language. The high-octane, Nymanesque opener Shattering Sea (Alkan) sets a turbulent scene, John Philip Shenale’s propulsive chamber arrangement featuring bassoon, clarinet and strings.
Not all the songs live up to this promise though. The Satie Gnossienne suffers most, as Amos awkwardly breaks up words to fit what should be a floating melody – only her own newly composed bridge section charms the ear. But Fearlessness, Job’s Coffin and Nautical Twilight are exemplary Amos ballads in classical garb (with a girlish, Kate Bush vocal twist), while Edge of the Moon reveals the singer-pianist at her most vulnerable, to the tune of Bach’s Siciliano.