Music Review/by Linda Laban Saturday, April 5, 2003
Yanni, at the FleetCenter, Boston, Thursday night. There is no doubt that Yanni has authored and executed one of the most stunning pieces of music. It's called ``Aria.'' Most people know it via a British Airways ad campaign, but so be it. It's beautiful anyway. Much of Yanni's now 13-album career remains a relative mystery to those outside his fan base. He's New Age, isn't he? (He says not, but if it walks like a duck . . .) Is he contemporary classical then? He's surely kissing kin to Kenny G in his smooth moves and huggy touchy-feelyness. But he isn't jazz. And he isn't rock, despite the still-long locks and leather pants he wore at the FleetCenter on Thursday night. This massive tour to promote his album, ``Ethnicity,'' is the Greek-born Miami resident's return to the concert stage after a five-year absence. A giggly, amiable Yanni said he was very happy to be back. ``This feels good,'' he told the audience, adding that he had ``got a bit lost'' some years back. At one point, a burned-out Yanni suffered from depression. But, he said, ``I found hope in music.'' Yanni does make such hopeful music; its buoyancy and willfulness idealize the human spirit. His 24-piece orchestra included Paraguayan harp, didgeridoo, hammer dulcimer, Chinese flute and more. Rather than the soothing massage-therapy wash of sound Yanni's CDs are associated with, the room was vibrant with players toiling at their instruments and delighting in their considerable achievements. Two video screens displayed the ferocious instrumental action and the gorgeous vocalists, too. But, mostly, it was a still-young-looking Yanni projected on the screens, either flanked '70s prog-rock-style by a bank of keyboards or seated at a piano. After ``Rites of Passage,'' in which Karen Briggs and Pedro Eustache took turns shredding on violin and soprano saxophone, respectively, Yanni announced, ``How do you follow that?'' Tough one. He chose to offer the more delicate piano piece ``Enchantment.'' At 48, Yanni knows the fine art of emotional pacing. There was the resolve and hope of ``The Promise,'' which Yanni said was about not selling out, and the sad, slow ``Nostalgia.'' The strangest moment was when Yanni ``sang,'' or rather, chanted American Indian-style in a deep guttural baritone. Singing, he said after, ``really scares me.'' Indeed. The utterly delightful ``Aria'' was anything but scary. Alfreda Gerald and Michelle Amato's ambrosial vocal duet topped a swooning celestial melody. This seemed more than candy-coated pop/classical, and if it was, who cared? It was brilliant.