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Khaleel Mandel’s Classical Concerto ‘Henrietta’s Felicity’ Is Here to Be a Champion

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Khaleel Mandel’s Classical Concerto ‘Henrietta’s Felicity’ Is Here to Be a Champion

January 13
19:34 2022

What Khaleel Mandel is reminiscent of — is what I imagine the relief of finding the Florentine Diamond of the Medici would feel like. Across a list of multifarious artists — who may or may not be a re-cut variant, Mr. Mandel is the 133 Carat sparkler of clear rarity. The 27 year old is a prodigy whose voice, choice of words, lyricism, ear for composition & creative elasticity are all inimitable — While Khaleel helms through obscurity in the land of music’s saturation, ‘Henrietta’s Felicity {Concerto No.1}’ is a MAC MTH-80 knife that cuts through.

 

Above is the ‘Henrietta’s Felicity {Concerto No.1}’ artwork designed entirely by Mr. Mandel via khaleelmandel.com

In a year with release date uncertainty, on December Thirty-First 2021 Khaleel Mandel gave the world his very first self composed concerto. Production was a two month process. Mr. Mandel’s awareness to detail reached a record high because he musically mastered expressing himself without the involvement of his written lyrics. “My objective going into composing this was to honor the variation of someone’s happiness.” — Khaleel states. “The ‘Movement Structure’ assigned to concerti helped me illustrate many sides to one person’s felicity. Meaning what a smile can look like with a string progression in b flat major versus what a smile looks like in c minor are very two different ways to show bliss.” Although Khaleel is brief with his explanation of who Henrietta is, he describes “she’s an inspiration to me what Aline Charigot was to Renoir”.

Mandel’s ability to compose extravagant pieces is about as effortless as birds achieving The Bernoulli Principle. The medley of harmonious methods from one solo person is broadcasted on each of Mr. Mandel’s albums. Khaleel’s 2018 debut album ‘Original’ is entirely nonfiction but the forefront is a demonstration declaring him a one man band in a class by himself. His sophomore project ‘2019’ is a specific ode to the world’s final era of what we all knew to be “normalcy”. ‘Close The Book’ is as Khaleel dubs “A Concept Album that’s Autobiographical”. The power is in Mr. Mandel’s sonic model of expressionism — he is not tied down to a solitary sound yet masters every genre he chooses to involve.

The musical choices on ‘Henrietta’s Felicity’ are breathtaking — the mixture of profound pizzicato patterns, warm yet glittering woodwinds which almost act as dialogue for side plots, nylon guitars underneath the percussive backdrop of bongos, and a String/Brass section are this concerto’s axis. All of this piece’s arrangements which Khaleel wrote on piano, elaborate how his composition technique is indeed tonal. The diatonic scales, romantic era tetrachords, or polyphonous melodic formulas offer an audiovisual representation of a sound Khaleel created for his home state Connecticut. His musical references for ‘Henrietta’s Felicity’ are sophisticated. Mr. Mandel says — “Chevalier de Saint-Georges, L’Orfeo, Xerxes, Treemonisha & Porgy and Bess are personal standards of mine. Every session where writing took place I would sit on sections and think ‘would Scott Joplin approve this?’. Maybe he would, I don’t know. Along with Scott, Sondheim shaped a lot of my approach with composing. I actually got word on the news regarding Stephen a few days before I wrote the last few stanzas.”

The trajectory of Mr. Mandel is one of ethics — he’s secure from any sort of label wars since he’s unsigned, and owns the masters to all of his successful works. Including this concerto, which after Khaleel exclusively premiered on his website khaleelmandel.com/news already has a stream count in the hundreds of thousands. His impact is in its growth spurt phase but in a brief period of time Khaleel’s been able to keep his niche audience and direct successes on his own terms despite not yet having co-signs from major artists or the grand Drake feature. ‘Henrietta’s Felicity’ fits the eligibility for the Best Contemporary Classical Composition at the 2023 Grammy Awards. Even with the organization’s recent change in rules, if a year from now this concerto by Mr. Mandel is missing from the Nomination List, I’m certain it won’t be the only time he’ll run into a snub during his career. In yet, versatility always wins.

Henrietta’s Felicity {Concerto No. 1} is streaming on khaleelmandel.com/news now.

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