Alchemy of Earth by David Campbell & Pauline Frechette
Pauline Frechette and David Campbell’s Alchemy of Earth is an expository, well-studied response to the intricacies of life on this planet. Frechette takes our hand and guides us through the seasons, opening rose buds with a piano flourish and conjuring ice storms with a dissonant orchestral collision. She gives a voice to nature, providing a soundtrack to universal experiences like watching a thunderstorm roll in across a summer sky – without a single word, nonetheless. After immersing ourselves in the beauty and frights of nature, David Campbell dives into the complexities of human experience. He references eras of musical tradition to showcase the changes in interpersonal relationships. While the 19th-century-inspired composition sounded mystical and of a past world, the 21st-century one was more technological and disjunct.
Both masters of their craft, Pauline Frechette and David Campbell, have created a stunning collection of pieces that articulate natural beauties that otherwise would be voiceless. Alchemy of Earth provides us all the necessary tools to have a thought-provoking, poignant listening experience.
“Spring Awakening” opens the album with a panoramic scene of flowers opening themselves up to the first hope of sunlight. Piano and cellos lilt over a bed of additional strings, traversing melancholy and heartwarming melodies. Patterns unveil themselves in harmony like fog rolling off a hill, and even the smallest musical flourish lends itself to the nature imagery of the song.
“Summer Skies” captures all the deep wonder of a summer thunderstorm. Ebbing and flowing between moments of striking movement and quiet anticipation, we can witness the onset of the storm. Deep chords emulate the dark, rolling clouds, while symphonic melodies depict the calm between lightning strikes.
“Liquid Moon” is the perfect soundtrack to a crisp October night. The song has a mystical quality and is tinged with an edge of mystery through dissonant chords and cascading piano melodies. Still, you can almost see the full autumn moon casting a brightness across the piece, as bright strings and wind instruments keep a lightness at the heart of “Liquid Moon”.
Immediately, the electric energy of “Ice Storm” is palpable. The quiet but quickly crescendoing arrangement invites a thick layer of tension to the piece. Soon, percussive hits reveal the urgency within the composition, representing the suddenness of a winter storm. The fullness of the orchestra is frighteningly beautiful, not unlike the power of nature itself.
“19th Century Entanglements”
“19th Century Entanglements” feels like a tour through a village in the late 1800s, guiding us through catacombs, castles, cobblestone streets, and crowds of people milling about. There’s a mysterious edge to the piece, as if foreshadowing an impending storyline with riveting twists and turns. Quick switches between legato chords and dancing melodies emphasize this captivating element of “19th Century Entanglements”.
“20th Century Entanglements”
“20th Century Entanglements” seems lost in its own thought – pondering the aching losses that came with the era. Dissonant layers of sharp, rhythmic motifs punctuate sustained strings, creating an unsettling dichotomy within the piece. Still, the musical painting of emotion is vivid, depicting a wide array of sentiments.
“21st Century Entanglements”
“21st Century Entanglements” feels closer to modernity both in melody and structure. Although still orchestral, the melodies present themselves more lyrically – not quite like a pop song, but an ode to the impending invention. The sections in “21st Century Entanglements” feel more independent, like the space that has grown between humankind in recent years.
About Pauline Frechette & David Campbell
Pauline Frechette’s eclectic life in the music industry has earned her multiple gold and platinum records singing on films including RENT and ALADDIN and with major artists, including Paul McCartney, Beck, Willie Nelson, duets with Neil Diamond and with MUSE for the 2012 Olympics. Her compositions have been performed by the: Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, New West Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, and at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Her last three albums, “Colors of My Heart”, “An Intimate Story” and her current album, “Alchemy of Earth” were all in the Billboard Top Ten Classical, Classical Cross-over and Jazz charts. Pauline’s ballet, A Winter’s Tale, had its World Premier in 2021 with the New West Symphony and California Contemporary Ballet. Pauline was a W.A.M. Award winner in the “Instrumental” category.
David Campbell has been the arranger on more than 450 gold or platinum albums, including 18 Grammy Albums of the Year (nominees and winners) and 3 Oscars. His arrangements can be heard on records by: Linda Ronstadt, Leonard Cohen, Goo Goo Dolls, Alanis Morissette, Green Day, Ricky Martin, Aerosmith, Evanescence, Sea Change and Morning Phase (Beck), Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, Garth Brooks, Josh Groban, Adele, and others – as well as recent #1s from Ariana Grande, Elton John, Adele and Billie Eilish (with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic). In 2016, he co-composed with Pharrell Williams, Rules of the Game, a full length ballet, commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with Campbell conducting. He arranged and conducted music for both the 2000 and 2012 Olympic closing ceremonies.