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Focus - Hamburger Concerto CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.25 | 943 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yet another masterpiece in the Focus catalogue, "hamburger Concerto" finds the band exploring their own symphonic trend a bit deeper while maintaining a strong flavor of jazzy vibe in their music. Pierre van der Linden's departure from the drummer's seat was indeed a serious factor that the band had to lead with, but fortunately, Colin Allen not only provided a solid foundation for the rockier orientation that the band was pursuing by then, but he also included some touches of Van der Linden dynamics into his own playing. Completeing the rhythm duo, Ruiter did a great job at completing the refurbished foundation upon which the musical ideas could be developed in a powerful manner. Yes, at this moment, Focus was reinforcing their progressive essence and preparing to rock a bit further than they had done so far: you can tell by the rough sound production for the lead guitar and Hammond organ inputs that Focus was willing to sound tighter. Another very noticeable aspect is the use of heavily overdubbed keyboards: along with the almost ever present Hammond, Van Leer put a lot of effort at integrating the mellotron and the ARP synthesizer in many of the most gradiose passages of the album, in this way creating a genuine orchestral atmosphere for the overall sound. Having said that, the album kicks off with a gentle, brief piece on lute and recorder, adapted from the Early Renaissance. After that, 'Harem Scarem' brings a strong reminder of the old combination of rocking energy and light humor that a couple of years ago had worked so well in 'Hocus Pocus'. It works here very well, too: rock'n'roll mixed with bucolic shades of flute and accordion, and also some weird percussive adornments on tympani. 'La Cathedrale de Strasbourg' brings a different mood, an etheral exercise on sweet melancholy originated from a few piano chords that build the subtle main motif. The gentle lead guitar washes fill some of the remaining empty spaces while the rhythm section provides an adequately subdued jazzy vibe to the track. 'Birth' has to be one of the definitive finest compositions by Akkerman in the history of Focus. Full of beautiful motifs linked fluidly by tight arrangements, it kicks off with an amazing harpsichord intro, and then it is developed on the basis of the alternating interaction between flute and lead guitar. Akkerman's last solo is simply magnificent. So far, so good for the album's first half. But the second half is really nothing to be dismissed, since it is occupied by the namesake 20 minute suite, a monster piece in which borrowed Baroque themes and archetypical rock riffs marry in a well-ordained amalgam of splendor and strength. Particular peaks of this suite are:the successive yodelling-organ-flute by Van Leer in 'Medium I'; the subtle tension between the guitar solo and the rhythm duo in 'Medium II'; the ellaboration of the symphonic climax all the way through 'Well Done' until the high-spirited coda 'One for the Road'. A great ending for a magnificent progressive gem: Focus showed with "Hamburger Concerto" that they were still on the top of their creative energy.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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