"Pop Songs"

Jan Vogler

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Sony Classical

06 May 2022

Jan Vogler, Cello
BBC Philharmonic
Omer Meir Wellber

As a cellist, Jan Vogler is always on the lookout for interesting additions to the repertoire for his instrument. After the world premiere recording of the “Three Continents” cello concerto written for him by three composers for his last album, Jan Vogler now lets his cello “sing” the “pop songs” of past centuries. His partners are the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Omer Meir Wellber. The new arrangements span from Monteverdi to Michael Jackson, from Mozart to the Beatles.

Jan Vogler has selected a total of 15 catchy tunes from four centuries for “Pop Songs”. These include world-famous arias such as that of the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Magic Flute, the “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s Norma or the famous “Flower Aria” from Bizet’s Carmen and thus vocal pieces that were popular hits at the time and still are today – as with the also recorded “Summertime” by Gershwin, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” or “Golden Slumbers” by Lennon / McCartney.

For almost 20 years, musical range has been one of Jan Vogler’s trademarks: “I’ve played Jimi Hendrix on the cello, been on stage with Eric Clapton and Bill Murray. It’s always inspired me a lot to try new things.” And so, for him, the new album is merely a logical continuation of projects such as “Songbook”, realized together with guitarist Ismo Eskelinen, or the successful album “MyTunes”.

“I grew up listening to opera in East Berlin; my father was a cellist at the Komische Oper. I heard many of the arias recorded here for the first time there as a child. When working on ‘Pop Songs,’ I was in close dialogue with Omer Meir Wellber. Together we then developed a playlist that shows how popular arias become pop songs, a very exciting story. Telling it with the cello was a wonderful challenge and broadening of horizons for me,” says Jan Vogler.

Pop Songs” is divided into three blocks. Beginning with the Baroque and continuing through Mozart and the great opera classics of the Romantic era – until the home stretch with Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and Gary Moore, which leads rapidly to Michael Jackson. “Jackson is our final point,” says Jan Vogler, “because this is where the final break with pop music as we define it today takes place. In terms of craftsmanship, like everything else with him, it’s absolutely superbly done. Rhythmically almost a bit reminiscent of Shostakovich. With this heated atmosphere, he really pushes open the door to completely new musical worlds once again.”

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