Review of Juno Concerto by Béla Fleck, Rounder Records, 2017
I thought I saw them all, but I really missed a banjo and orchestra concert. And only a virtuoso of the banjo like Béla Fleck could think about it. The result? It doesn’t convince me too much: on the one hand we have an orchestra with an impressive sound made by brass and strings instruments, on the other we have a lonely banjo, When the orchestra plays the banjo is silent, and vice versa, nothing too brilliant and innovative.
The basic idea is interesting, a concert in honor of his son Juno, we feel that Béla Fleck wanted to put a lot of “soul” in these music, designed and composed specifically for his young son. Listening is pleasant, very melodic, but after a while it has a tendency to repeat itself and … I certainly don’t expect it to compete with the structure and balance of the Aranjuez Concert. Fleck is a true virtuoso of his instrument and has managed to bring the banjo into decidedly new and unexplored territories, in situations and musical genres far from its usual location, but in the classical territories … he is certainly not Joaquín Rodrigo. This is his second concert, so we can reasonably expect that this frequentation continues, nothing bad, indeed I hope only that this interest produces new works, perhaps with a greater balance and a greater intertwining. Fleck is a great author of cinematic music and I think this concert can be good to represent scenes that alternate calm and sudden energy, but I also believe that a classical music concert should be able to stand alone, free from any reference and proposing something new.