Old Friends: Simon & Garfunkel, A Classical Tribute
They spoke about it
It is with great pleasure that I worked on this classical album focused on the melodies of Simon & Garfunkel. Three months have elapsed between the start of this project and its recording, three months of creative adventure in the country of these monuments of song that the works of Paul Simon represent. The wealth of the harmonies on the violins, the grace of the harp, the depth of the bass and the nobility of the horn will, I hope, delight you and do justice to these melodies which have lived though time and continue to move us today.
— Antoine Bareil
The Dangling Conversation
The theme of this song is bad communication between lovers. Paul Simon has compared it to The Sound of Silence, but he added that The Dangling Conversation was more personal. Here we find a quote from the refrain of The Boxer, “Lie, lie, lie.”
The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel’s first great success, composed in February 1964, made possible the reunion of the duo after their first separation. At the time considered “the quintessence of folk-rock”, this song was also one of the favourites of the two artists. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it in this version for violin and harp.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Probably Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest success, taken from the album of the same name, this is their last gathering before their final separation. It is perhaps the work on this recording that is most faithful to its original version.
Simon & Garfunkel very early on made it a habit to combine these two works during their performances. Both are drawn from the album Bookends, touching on the themes of loss, the American dream, the innocence of youth, and old age. Serving as an introduction and a conclusion, I had the idea of using a passage from the Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), which beautifully lent itself to the nostalgic atmosphere created by Simon.
April Come She Will
Paul Simon composed this song when he was living in London, in 1965. Following the failure of their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., the previous year, the companions split up for the first time. Still, two years later they recorded Sounds of Silence, which will definitely set the beginning of their careers. Here I’d like to mention Cecilia, suggesting that it is she who evolves through the seasons.
Peggy-O is an adaptation of The Bonnie Lass o’ Fyvie, a traditional Scottish folk melody, probably dating from the 17th century. The song talks about a soldier who falls in love with a girl who consistently rejects his advances. For the second part of the work, I composed a reel on which the original melody is wonderfully superimposed.
Benedictus [Orlando di Lasso]
Simon & Garfunkel’s style was in part inspired by the Everly Brothers duo. Very popular at the end of the 50s, they also sang in tight vocal harmony. It is therefore not surprising that later Simon was drawn by this two-voice motet by Roland de Lassus (1532-1594), from the Missa Octavi Toni. His interest in ancient music is also reflected in some of Paul Simon’s original compositions, Old Friends and The Sound of Silence, for example, which display a slight modal tinge. The Latin words read: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Scarborough Fair [Traditionnal]
This classic of classics is what gave us the idea of producing the present recording. Scarborough Fair, dating from the end of the Middle Ages, is a traditional English ballad that Paul Simon took up again for the duo’s third disc, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. He is assumed to have learned it during his stay in London in 1965. You will also find it in the album href=”http://www.analekta.com/en/album/Fantaisie-Sur-Noel-Album-Exclusif-En-Telechargement.611.html”>Christmas Fantasies under the Analekta label.
This song describes the voyage of two companions looking for the real meaning of America. During this journey, the lovers’ hope turns, little by little, into a feeling of sadness.
For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
Paul Simon dreams about Emily, beautiful, light, pure and perfect, and then wakes up next to her. He has said that this song was not about an imaginary woman, but rather a conviction, a metaphor of plenitude, implying that this ideal was not as inaccessible as we often imagine it. The image Paul Simon suggests of this aspiration for happiness in the shape of a woman made me think of the Virgin, and naturally an allusion to Schubert followed.
The duo’s second great success after The Sound of Silence, intended at first as a portrait of Mrs. Roosevelt (the First lady of the US from 1933 to 1945), this song ended up as the sound track of The Graduate (1967), in which we find the character Mrs. Robinson. A very rhythmic song, its central part is drawn from The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) , which shares the same vivacity as Mrs. Robinson.
© Antoine Bareil