Michael Askounes 
ALL breathtaking: that's the only way to describe Stuart Diamond's latest release Konzerto/Succubus

by Michael Askounes

Part ambient, part classical, part opera - and ALL breathtaking: that's the only way to describe Stuart Diamond's latest release Konzerto/Succubus. Consisting of two multi-movement pieces - the first called "Konzerto", and the second "Succubus" - this release grabs hold of your soul from the first ominous sounds of electronic percussion to the final fadeout. Stuart Diamond, composer and programmer, has managed to create with his electronic symphony two pieces of music that evoke the same sort of emotions   as do acoustically played classical arrangements. Even without the wonderful violin talents of Karen Bentley and the soprano of Kerry Walsh, Diamond would have a fantastic ambient/classical release. But being the good composer that he is, Diamond realized that those touches would elevate his music to a higher lever, and that is exactly what Bentley and Walsh do. 

The first composition on the CD, the 4 movement "Konzerto," is a lush arrangement of otherworldly sounding electronica with a nice range of sounds and very moving chord progressions topped off by the absolutely stunning violin playing of Karen Bentley. Bentley's traditional violin sounds very much at home with Diamond's electronic symphony, the voice of her strings interplaying expertly with the "wired" foundation that she is given. 

"Succubus," the 6-movement composition that follows "Konzerto," takes a more mellow and ethereal approach by introducing the stunning vocals of soprano Kerry Walsh. The first thing that came to mind when Ms. Walsh sings her first note is that I had somehow been transported to a place the Sirens called home; her voice is downright inspiring. The echo effects that Diamond uses to augment Walsh's voice add a certain weight to the vocals that results in singing that is both frail and powerful at the same time. 

Karen Bentley's violin continues to be a major force throughout the composition, and the piece comes to a somber end with a long electronic fade-out that gives the listener ample time to digest what he or she has just experienced. I can't say enough good things about Konzerto/Succubus - Ms. Bentley's violin and the vocals of Ms. Walsh leave nothing to want for - they are both expertly executed. All of their efforts would have gone for naught if the songwriting of Diamond was less than top-notch, and Diamond delivers in spades providing an emotional and moving soundtrack for Bentley and Walsh's incredible talents. Konzerto/Succubus is a must-have for fans of electronic symphony, and a release that ALL music fans should at least consider giving a try.