Frank Zappa: 200 Motels - The Suites

Frank Zappa: 200 Motels - The Suites

by Esa-Pekka Salonen


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This Grammy-nominated release, issued in 2016, reproduces a 2013 performance from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The performance is of a unique type. You couldn't call it a classical orchestra version of a rock work, for the original film soundtrack of Frank Zappa's 1971 film 200 Motels also contained a substantial orchestral component, performed originally by no less than the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The film was intended as a kind of rock opera about a touring band (that's the title's reference). Filming was abandoned partway through, and the music was issued as an album that made some sense of a rather random story. The story develops Zappa's own ambitions as a classical composer in the vein of Edgard Varèse, but also twits them, and the overall tone is satirical; Zappa (played here by Jeff Taylor) is himself a character in the story. What you have here is designated a set of suites; it might equally be regarded as an edition of an inchoate work, and as such it succeeds. The balance between rock and orchestral pieces is tilted toward the latter, but the unpredictable mix of the original is still present. You could sample Zappa's large-scale experiment with modern classical idioms, "The Pleated Gazelle," which manages the trick of having fun with its source material while still holding it in great respect. Indeed, Salonen has expressed his admiration for Zappa precisely because of the latter's irreverence, and he proves a sympathetic interpreter throughout. There isn't a boring moment in the whole score, and the live sound is more than adequate. Later Zappa would don more formal clothing in his approach to contemporary orchestral music, but it may be that this recording best captures the spirit in which he approached it. Highly recommended.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/20/2015
Label: Zappa Records
UPC: 0824302001929
catalogNumber: 0019
Rank: 27578

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Esa-Pekka Salonen   Primary Artist,Conductor
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Michael Des Barres   Vocals
Randy Kerber   Keyboards,Hammond Organ
Scott Thunes   Electric Bass
Ian Underwood   Keyboards,Alto Saxophone
Diva Zappa   Vocals
Angeles Master Chorale   Choir, Chorus
Jamie Kime   Electric Guitar
Hila Plitmann   Soprano (Vocal)
Morris Robinson   Bass (Vocal)
Matt Marks   Vocals
Sheila Vand   Vocals
Ann Cusack   Vocals
Alan Ruck   Vocals
Rich Fulcher   Vocals
Joel David Moore   Vocals
Joe Fria   Vocals
Jeff Taylor   Vocals
Zach Villa   Vocals

Technical Credits

Steve Vai   Liner Notes,Artwork
Michael Des Barres   Liner Notes
Peter Asher   Liner Notes
Frank Zappa   Composer,Score
Frank Filipetti   Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes
Mark Linett   Engineer
Scott Thunes   Liner Notes
Joe Travers   Liner Notes
Diva Zappa   Liner Notes,Cover Art
Gail Zappa   Producer,Liner Notes,Art Direction
James Darrah   Director,Liner Notes
Keith Lawler   Layout
Melanie Starks   Cover Art
Gustavo Dudamel   Music Direction,Artistic Director
Kurt Morgan   Liner Notes
Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko   Costume Design
Cameron Jaye Mock   Scenic Design
Alexis Pletcher   Scenic Design
Adeline Newmann   Video Technician
Rebecca Guzzi   Costume Design
Margery Simkin   Casting
Emily Anne Macdonald   Scenic Design
Vanessa Dionne   Wig Designer

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