The above video shows the electric Australian/British string quartet Bond playing “Duel” from their 2000 debut album, Born. The album reached Platinum in 12 countries, Gold in 14, and was on top of the UK Classical charts until it was removed for “sounding too much like pop music.”
Despite this relative popularity, there are several critics proclaiming that although they’re talented, they oversimplify great classical pieces and are likened to a “classical Spice Girls.” An article called “Sex in the Symphony” in TIME sums up this sentiment:
“Say what you will about the liberties the bond string quartet takes with a piece of classical music, you can’t fault its sexually charged performances for being off key. Off color, yes. A bond concert is a melodic lap dance: the four sylphs do energetic things with their orchestral instruments, not to mention their hips, that would compel Stradivari to order an exorcism.”
However, Bond has been described as the best selling string quartet of all time, especially popular in Asia. They were the first major classical crossover music group, at least that I had ever heard about, and made classical music more accessible to millions of people. Perhaps they even served as a gateway into actual classical music concerts for some people – I wouldn’t be surprised if symphony orchestra concerts saw a rise in attendance through their influence. Besides, they played mostly their original pieces on tour anyway.
And although I agree that these types of groups’ sometimes have dull and repetitive interpretations, I wouldn’t mind seeing most of them in concert. They get to be rock stars with what others see as quirky cool instruments. At least Bond doesn’t overdo the glitter glam strutting and suggestive twirling of their bows like some quartets I see on YouTube today:
Ah but I shouldn’t poke too much fun – I’m sure the above group satisfies their own particular target audience, and I’m fine with that. Anyway, I’d like to hear what other classically-trained now electric violinists feel about classical crossover groups today. Thoughts?