In the arts section of the Rust we have our own debates and one is that because an artist is popular that should consign him per se to a negative critique. Whether it’s Melanie Gay extolling the story-telling of Daphne du Maurier, or Alice Mansfield being inspired by Ken Howard’s depiction of light, or Tim Horsfall-Smith laughing out loud at an Alan Ayckbourn play, we like and defend our popular icons here. Thus I purchased and listened with much pleasure to a CD of piano performances by Benny Andersson and now review it positively.
He showed his versatility in the musical Chess.
He cannot read music but composes from his Grand Piano and the album Benny Andersson Piano is a collection of piano renditions with one hit from ABBA, in my opinion their greatest song Thank You for the Music, seven from Chess and many Swedish songs.
He has an intuitive sense of harmony and plays with the smooth brio of a resident pianist at a five star hotel. To describe him as slick would be unfair though. There is an all-pervasive warmth about his playing.
I am a fan of the way Rod Stewart reinvented himself with the American Songbook series but he has the resources to have the best accompaniment.
Aside from his Grand Piano it is Benny Andersson alone here. He is astonishingly eclectic, moving seamlessly from European light music to American pop, to folklore and to classical. I am not alone in praising this dvd, I am in the exalted company of David Mellor who – despite or maybe because of his profund classical knowledge – also enthuses about more popular music and taste where it so deserves.
A sure sign of any great artiste is their longevity. Daphne du Maurier, 110 years after her birth, is still selling strong, Ted Seago remains the popular artist he was all his lifetime and Benny Andersson has been a considerable musical force and talent eve since being top of the Swedish pops when he started in Hep Stars way back in 1966.