8 superb synthesiser versions of classical music

Sometimes, cheesy rock bands take on the classics. With synthesisers. And the results are chiefly superb.

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Isao Tomita – Arabesque No. 1

This incredibly whistly version of Debussy's Arabesque No. 1 is a close neighbour to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds - but altogether more tranquil. Japanese composer Isao Tomita wrote this in 1974, as part of a whole collection of Debussy numbers called Snowflakes Are Dancing.


Wendy Carlos – Brandenburg No. 3

The great Wendy Carlos and her double-album Switched-On Brandenburgs should be mandatory listening for everyone. Samples of the album should be issued alongside birth certificates and passports, such is its parp-y synth genius.


Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Copland's Hoe Down

The great ELP were famous for their versions of Aaron Copland's idiosyncratic Americana compositions. They were also famous for their non-period-specific medieval costumes.

And here's their version of 'Fanfare for the Common Man':


Sky - Toccata

J.S. Bach features again, this time with Sky - who can count among their number none other than legendary classical guitarist John Williams. Bonus mention for the ludicrously ostentatious prof drum kit.


William Orbit – Barber's Adagio

Bringing us bang up to date (well… the '90s, anyway), William Orbit has a pop at Samuel Barber's iconic Adagio for Strings. The results, strangely, have dated far more than the original.


Tangerine Dream – Largo from Handel's Xerxes

This rather faithful and stately reworking of a famous Handel snippet features a bit of Jan Garbarek-esque soprano saxophone.


Craig Leon - Bach to Moog

The latest person to use the humble synthesiser to take on the greats of classical music is former Blondie producer Craig Leon - here he is with a little bit of Bach's Violin Sonata No. 4 in C.

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