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Album review: Sven Helbig, Pocket Symphonies (Deutsche Grammophon)


Sven Helbig is a young German composer equally drawn to classical, pop and hip-hop modes, probably most famous for his orchestrations on Pet Shop Boys' Battleship Potemkin and The Most Incredible Thing. That populist spirit informs this debut release, with emotionally expansive pieces restricted to pop-song length.

The unnatural compression works in some cases like film music, bringing an evocative potency to the likes of “Gone” and “Eisenhüttenstadt. Elsewhere, ”Am Abend“ is a reflective piano piece akin to Einaudi, the weightless rising triplets of ”Autumn Song“ are like leaves borne on breeze, while the chugging strings and urgent double-time piano of ”Frost“ reflect the industrious rhythmic drive of minimalism.

Download: Frost; Am Abend; Autumn Song; Eisenhüttenstadt