By This River

Today’s selection is the classical reimagining of a piece from Before and After Science, the fifth studio album by Brian Eno, released in 1977.

The album was Eno’s final foray into rock music before pioneering and diving headlong into the ambient music genre, a place where he still lives and works. However, he has returned to dabble in rock, for example, with his 23rd solo album, 2005’s Another Day on Earth.

Eno co-wrote the track “By This River” with European electronic music composers Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius.

Scrolling through the suggested videos on the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube page today, I was excited to find a video for the song. The version in the video is a classical arrangement by DG’s director of new repertoire, Christian Badzura, for violin and orchestra. It comes from the 2019 album Mari, by Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen.

I love the piece’s arrangement and playing, and the delicateness added to the piano, particularly the last three chords on the repeating piano line. The music is lilting and magical; Eno’s lyrics and singing are beautifully substituted with Samuelsen’s violin and the orchestra’s flautist.

“By This River” is a dreamy piece that brings to mind a meditative practice, visualizing myself on the bank of a river or stream in the spring, summer or fall, taking in the visual beauty and the calming, soul-feeding sounds of flowing water.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video of the piece played by Samuelsen and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer, from Deutsche Grammophon’s official YouTube channel:

For comparison, here is the original from Brian Eno’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics for the original version are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Edit, February 10, 2021:

At the the first sight of the orchestral video it confused me and now as I watch it again a few more times, I truly wonder why the video was shot without featuring the wind instruments or, ironically, the pianist, a part so pivotal to the piece. It’s still an entrancing video, though, for those parts that are portrayed. I really like it, regardless of perceived faults.

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