New classical renditions of the time-honoured favourites are done all the time. And we’re accustomed to them. However, there is a phenomenon happening by the name of the 5 Browns who perform these classics with something different. This team of 5 siblings, Julliard-trained, and possessing incredible synchronicity between each other, can pound out an amazing rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s complex “Flight of the Bumblebee”, in perfect delivery. Each play their part which, when done in unison, produce an extraordinary interpretation of the piece. But it doesn’ stop there. On this CD, there are pieces that are performed as a whole and pieces that are individually tackled.
In their Red Seal debut, they perform 4 works together. In their reproduction of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt, they start out slow. But it is when the piece works at its most frenetic that the overall talent of the each member of The 5 Browns, or the Brown family as it really is, is fully realized. As they work together to assemble the parts, their synchronicity is seemingly inherent; an inner thread if you will that allow the 5 siblings to generate the perfection that emanate from 5 pairs of hands on keyboards.
They work together again on Bernstein’s “Scenes From West Side Story” and the Disney popularized “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas. The 5 Browns also approach other works with individual application with one other track a duet from two of the sisters, of Maurice Ravel’s fantastical “La Valse”, a work often paired with his other, more popular orchestral piece, “Bolero”. My fondness lies with Melody Brown’s treatment of Debussy’s “L’Isle Joyeuse”, a delicate piece that requires a love to respectfully recreate.
The album is sequenced to provide an introduction of the entire clan after which it introduces you to each of the family individually (3 of the clan get two tracks apiece) with the exception of 2 of the sisters who provide the duet mentioned above. The album then closes with the entire family.
There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound audio selection in addition to the standard PCM selection. This is selectable via the DVD-side menu, an interesting menu using keys as choices. The surround mix is recorded in 24 bit, 88.2 kHz high resolution and is largely ambient, seeking to expand the soundstage rather than being gimmicky. The sound is very clear and crisp. There are 3 bonus videos found on the DVD-side. The 2 music videos are of "The Flight of the Bumblebee" and "Scenes from West Side Story". In those videos you'll see 5 well disciplined piano players. There is also an interview segment that is interspersed with clips from their childhood days which is fascinating viewing.
There are sublime moments, moments of awe, and moments of ‘closed eyes’ satisfaction found between the start and finish of this album. Lovers of the keys will appreciate the synchronic work of this family while enjoying the unique individuality of each member of the 5 Browns.