You’re probably most familiar with Roger O’Donnell from his position as keyboardist for legendary rock band The Cure. However, his latest project is very far removed from that band’s renowned repertoire of alternative anthems. Instead, the English artist has teamed up with Canadian cellist Julia Kent to create a collection of instrumental arrangements entitled Love and Other Tragedies. Mixed by Paul Corkett and mastered by Guy Davie, the album draws inspiration from a number of classical literary tales.
“Tristan” gets things going through mellow piano keys and solemn string work. It’s quite a stirring opener, whose reflective nature also carries some slight hints of optimism. “Isolde” is ominous and affecting afterwards, maintaining a foreboding and forlorn tone all the through. This is before the light and uplifting introduction of “Marke”, which takes up a more obviously optimistic disposition. Its strings don’t completely loosen their grasp upon the sombre ambience of the preceding tracks, but the piano has a consistently reassuring and hopeful quality to it.
“Le Roi” is a serious and sobering symphony, the execution of which has an underlying trait that’s inexplicably unnerving. It prefaces the frantic keys of “Le Princesse” as they sprint across hectic strings, emitting a strong sense of urgency and anxiousness. “Les Deux” is slow and introspective in its wake, forging an atmosphere tinged with sorrow and regret.
“La Favola” is another moving composition, whose pensive pianos are simultaneously sad and soothing. “Romanza” follows as a reserved and portentous offering that almost seems as if it wants to be cheerful, but is reluctant to let its guard down and relax. “Il Regno Dei Morti” succeeds it as a mournful and melancholy finale, closing the curtain with a sense of admonition.
Love and Other Tragedies is an interesting undertaking, full of seemingly contrasting moods that keep it extremely emotionally ambiguous. While it’s not always as dramatic or hard hitting as it feels it should be, the instrumental skills of both O’Donnell and Kent are undeniably accomplished throughout.