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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Playing the History album cover
3.48 | 6 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Jerusalem (original performer: Emerson, Lake & Palmer '73) (3:06)
2. Catherine of Aragon (Rick Wakeman '73) 4:42)
3. Overnight snow (John Hackett '11) (2:27)
4. Hairless Heart (Genesis '74) (3:37)
5. After the ordeal (Genesis '73) (4:56)
6. Horizons (Genesis '72) (1:56)
7. Fanfare and Lute's Chorus (Anthony Phillips '77) (3:05)
8. Hammer in the sand (Steve Hackett '80) (3:05)
9. Theme One (Van der Graaf Generator '71) (3:27)
10. I talk to the wind (King Crimson '69) (5:53)
11. Shadow of the Hierophant (Steve Hackett '75) (7:34)
12. Hands of the Priestess (Steve Hackett '75) (4:00)
13. Galadriel (Steve Hackett '10) (3:19)
14. Galadriel's Memories (composed by John Hackett) (3:11)
15. Bilbo's Dream (composed by Marco Lo Muscio) (3:31)
16. Visions from Minas Tirith (composed by Marco Lo Muscio) (12:13)
17. The Great Gig in the Sky (Pink Floyd '73) (6:03)

Total Length 76:33.

Line-up / Musicians

- Marco Lo Muscio / Pipe Organ, Grand Piano, Mellotron
- John Hackett / Flute
- Carlo Matteucci / Bass, Acoustic Guitar

- Steve Hackett /Classical and Electric Guitar (4, 5, 12, 13)
- David Jackson / Saxophones and Whistle (9, 17)
- Giorgio Gabriel: Electric and Acoustic Guitar (1, 10, 11, 14, 17)
- Bona Kim / Voice (11)

Releases information

Hacktrax HTRX006.

Thanks to Matti for the addition
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VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) Playing the History ratings distribution

(6 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (67%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars This is an instrumental project by three musicians who share deep love of both classical music and prog rock. They wanted to blur the dividing line between these genres, and chose tracks (mostly instrumentals) from well-known prog artists to be performed as if they were classical music. The main instrument is pipe organ - ie. church organ? - played by Marco Lo Muscia. John Hackett plays flute on almost each track, and the third musician in the core team is bass player Carlo Mattoucci. They are accompanied by Steve Hackett (who also speaks few words of introduction: "I'm very happy to be part of this album.... It has come together beautifully and I'm sure it will give many a listener a great deal of pleasure.") on four tracks, VDGG's saxophonist David Jackson on two tracks, and less known guitarist Giorgio Gabriel on five tracks. Drums are totally absent.

Yes, this is full of pastoral beauty just like the cover art, and the selection is very pleasant, emphasizing on the GENESIS / STEVE HACKETT material. 'Hairless Heart', 'After the Ordeal' and 'Horizons' are of course instrumentals in their original form as well. It could have been more exciting to hear interpretations of some vocal compositions, but they might have ended up sounding less honest. The whole album is made quite safely, avoiding tracks that would demand bigger arranging tasks. This is also the weakness, as the outcome is not as groundbreaking as it could have been. And during the album I occasionally get a bit bored at the dominance of the organ. I do like classical organ music and it's a gorgeous instrument, but to really make this album feel like classical chamber music there could have been for example a violinist or a cellist instead of a bassist - whose contribution stays quite unnoticed anyway. Also the choice of the original prog acts could have been much wider. For example, where is Yes or Focus?

'I Talk to the Wind' (King Crimson 1969) is one of the few that originally feature vocals, and this peaceful version works very well. The arrangement of Hackett's debut album closer 'Shadow of the Hierophant' features also some Mellotron and brief soprano vocals. This composition has clearly been among the more difficult ones to the threesome, and it contains some clumsiness, it doesn't flow quite naturally. Other Steve Hackett compositions are instrumentals such as 'Hands of the Priestess' and 'Hammer in the Sand'.

The George Martin tune 'Theme One' has been chosen from VDGG. There would have been some peaceful songs perfect for this occasion that I would have rather chosen. Jackson plays also on the closing track 'The Great Gig in the Sky', the vocalise track from Dark Side of the Moon. The gritty saxophone part breaks the illusion of classical music, and actually this is the track that most clearly loses to the original.

The long album includes also three new pieces, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien. Hmm, beautiful, but why not make the whole album with the same idea, to reinterpret classic progressive rock? This is certainly a nice album to enjoy when you're in need of something peacefully comfortable and pastoral, but it's not as great as it may sound as an idea, and it also turns out to be TOO soft, tender and mild at least for more demanding prog ears. But you may love it if you like the pastoral sides of artists such as Hackett, Genesis, Anthony Phillips or King Crimson. 3 stars rounded up for the great design in the leaflet.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Playing the History" is the name of the album and a live project credited to the trio of Marco Lo Musico, John Hackett and Carlo Matteucci. They performed a live version of this concept in 2012, and the following year they made this official album as well, supplemented with some additional compositions. Helping out with the studio version of the concept we find a couple of household names in progressive rock, Steve Hackett and David Jackson.

"Playing the History" is a production that has a select and finite audience, I presume. If you have a taste for progressive rock, and especially the classic 70's bands, that is probably a good place to start. If you have an affection for classical music as well that is most likely a warranted quality. But first and foremost this is a production that will appeal to those with a deep interest and affection for the classical church organ, and if you are intrigued by what classic progressive rock might sound like when performed by that instrument in the classical church music tradition then this disc is one that you you should take note of.

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