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IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Il Rovescio Della Medaglia picture
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia biography
Founded in Rome, Italy in 1970 - Disbanded in 1977 - Reformed in 1993

Italian seventies progressive rock band playing dynamic prog with many rhythm changes. Their first album called "La Bibbia" is a concept work based on the early parts of the Bible. They used a classical orchestra on "Contaminazione", a classical rock album based on the life and works of Bach. Very kayboards oriented in the vein of ELP, heavy guitars and a tight rhythm section, much variation: this is great stuff! (Claude)

See also:
- HERE
- WiKi

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IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA discography


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IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.88 | 73 ratings
La Bibbia
1971
2.80 | 59 ratings
Io Come Io
1972
4.19 | 332 ratings
Contaminazione
1973
3.91 | 40 ratings
Contamination
1975
2.40 | 5 ratings
Il Ritorno
1995
1.36 | 16 ratings
Vitae
2000
2.60 | 10 ratings
Microstorie
2011
3.73 | 15 ratings
Tribal Domestic
2016

IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.07 | 8 ratings
...Giudizio Avrai
1988
3.90 | 10 ratings
Live in Tokyo
2014
4.45 | 11 ratings
Contaminazione 2.0
2020

IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 6 ratings
I Grandi Del Rock
1993

IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Carnier

5 stars A band that mixes Rock and Classic musical usually falls into the cheesy category, however this is not the case when the Italian band "Il Rovescio Della Medaglia" (Eng Trans: The other side of the coin") joined forces with the Argentinian composer Luis Enriquez Bacavlov (New Trolls - Concerto Grosso and Osanna) to execute their third album: Contaminazione.

A very diverse group of talented musicians like: Enzo Vita, Stefano Urso, Gino Campoli, Pino Ballarini and Franco Di Sabbatino (Il Paese dei Baocchi), produced one of the top 10 Progressive Italian albums of all time, according to Prog Archives.com. It's an album that was inspired (or a homage) by Johann Sebastian Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier" work. It blends 17th century classical styles motifs and orchestral instruments with "hard-prog" elements, with a very present sound. The production and sound quality of the album are also superb, I'd say that beats many famous local bands of the time.

According to Italian Prog.com review, "This time the band was being renowned for their powerful performances, always played at the loudest possible volume and helped by a unique sound system. This is what the Contamination LP liner notes said about it (originally written in English, mistakes and all...): "Their instrumentation is among the moste interesting in Europe. The 6000 watt Mack vocal equipment is quadrophonic and is equivalent to 36 track amplifiers. The console table is really a portable recording studio with filters, compressors, etc. The guitar, the battery and the keyboards have 900 watt amplifiers. The keyboards consist of a vertical B Hammond organ, a harmonium, an eminent for the reproduction of strings, two VCS synthesizers, a 200 Harp [it was probably an ARP], and two mini moog synthesizers. The lighting equipment is also important. There are 50 spotlights which produce colors and special effects. On a special screen behind the group, slides and films are projected to produce abstract musical effects."

Truly, another masterpiece in my collection and one of my favorites

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars Il Rovescio Della Medaglia - CONTAMINAZIONE - 1973

Contamination is recorded in 1973, which marks the year of the real turning point of the group, the best work of the band, with a more ambitious project than ever (blending classical music with progressive, delivering an incredible combination of rock instrumentation and symphony orchestra, with particular reference to Bach's music). The album is animated by incredible mixtures, made up of many instruments, harmonizations and varied but incisive atmospheres, in a masterful way.

Extremely enjoyable, warm and enveloping style, with clear classical influences and futuristic instrumentation, perhaps be defined as primordial, the first true expression of sound, that is classical, with modernity. The typical guitar burst of with intertwining fused keyboards and tight rhythms, then piano, timpani, moog, organs, violins, flutes, in short, a parade of instruments used in an exemplary way, wich created out of this world arrangements.

Absence of stylistic limitations is resulting in the enhancement of the individual instrumental skills of the musicians. Great union between acoustic and electric instruments which makes the overall "sound" unique and original.

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars A brilliant and skillful merging of classical and rock traditions is here used to present a story of the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. The full title of this album is "CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi preludi e fughe de 'Il Clavicembalo ben temprato' di J. S. Bach." Hearing the album makes it obvious how much Il Rovescio della Medaglia was inspired by J.S. Bach life and music.

1. "Absent For This Consumed World" (1:05) awesome atmospheric opener of synths and strings and cymbals (10/10)

2. "Ora Non Ricordo Piu" (1:47) opens with and fast lead synth arppegi over GENESIS/New Age-like synth wash. Beautiful male voice announces something in a plaintive voice. (10/10)

3. "Il Suono Del Silenzio" (5:16) exposes the full rock sound of the band for the first time even though there are some very classically organized and constructed sections within this multi-movement song. Very tight, competent instrumental cohesion. The choral choice for vocal exposition is good though it makes the song feel kind of rock- opera-ish. (9/10)

4. "Mi Sono Svegliato E... Ho Chiuso Gli Occhi" (4:19) opens with organ and strings as if from a famous Vivaldi, Bach or even Mozart composition. Vocals enter and the song builds all the while maintaining its largo foundation in sparsely arranged classical music. (10/10)

5. "Lei Sei Tu: Lei" (2:04) using harpsichord and orchestra with the rock band rhythm section lends this song a very time-representative sound. Little vocals, presented in the choral form again. (9/10)

6. "La Mia Musica" (4:10) opens with electric piano played classical-style (as if practicing before one's piano teacher) before the music falls away leaving a very sparsely instrument-and-space-supported foundation for a very delicate, soft solo vocal. At the two-minute mark an full church organ takes over as the foundational instrument where it is eventually joined by voice(s), rock band, and orchestral strings. The first (and only) orchestral arrangement on the album that is a bit 'cheesy.' (8/10)

7. "Johann" (1:23) uses solo electric guitar to create a finger-picked in a kind of country-classical way chordal foundation for a vocal as if from a haunted individual. (9/10)

8. "Scotland Machine" (3:06) returns to full rock format--though with all electronic instrumentalists performing as if in a classical composition.By the second half of the second minute the song climbs into drive with rolicking, melodic ride forward. Probably my favorite rock-oriented song on the album. (9.5/10)

9. "Cella 503" (3:18) an astonishingly perfect blend of rock'n'roll and orchestration--here used in an amazing call and response arrangement! Opening with awesome classical guitars (three tracks!), moving into harpsichord, horns, strings with drum-and-bass-supported synthesizer as its alternate. The organ and harpsichord work beneath the electric instruments is awesome and the pipe organ solo at the end of the song is great! Amazing song! (10/10)

10. "Contaminazione 1760" (1:04) is an astonishing display of woodwind (and synth?) skills and possibilities (10/10)

11. "Alzo Un Muro Elettrico" (2:55) is a straight-forward hard rock song in the RARE EARTH vein of dynamics and sound. If there is a weakness in the music present on this album it may be in the vocals. Not so much the lead but the choral voices are recorded rather poorly throughout the album. Two interjections of classical instrumentation occur here, one a brief quartet-like interlude in the middle and the other being the joinder of organ for the final minute. (8/10)

12. "Sweet Suite" (2:17) is a slowed down, sparsely filled instrumental similar to a couple of the earlier songs on the album, using organ as the primary foundation and lead electric jazz guitar for the melody-maker. (9/10)

13. La Grande Fuga (3:42) pits organ and harpsichord against synthesizers while both orchestra and rock band play in support beneath. The best rock riff on the album lays the foundation for the song while familiar classical (Bach?) themes play over the top from a wide variety of soloists. (10/10)

Though Il Rovescio della Medaglia employed the same Argentinian composer/conductor that NEW TROLLS had used for their 1971 Concerto Grosso, Luis Enriquez Bacalov, I have to agree with many of my predecessors that the arrangements, integration, and recorded sounds of the orchestral inputs here are far, far superior to those on Concerto Grosso. These fit within and do not feel cheezy, diluted or soundtrack-like as do the ones in New Trolls' Concerto Grosso.

A rare and gleaming achievement of integration of rock and classical music as well as a great story foundation. In my opinion, this is one of the peak achievements of the classic RPI scene.

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Among the favorites of Classic Italian Prog fans, Il Rovescio Della Medaglia came from Rome and were found in early-70's by guitarist Enzo Vita, bassist Stefano Urso, drummer Gino Campoli and singer Gianni Mereu, who's place was taken soon by Sandro Falbo and then Pino Ballarini.Their performance at the Viareggio Pop festival marked the band as a live monster and the first two albums, ''La bibbia'' (1971) and ''Io come io'' (1972) are good examples of dynamic Hard Rock.They reached their pinnacle though the following year, when RCA came in contact with Argentine composer Enriquez Bacalov (the same man who helped New Trolls) to dress the band's music with his arrangements.By the time they had added Franco Di Sabbatino on keyboards and the result of the recordings was the ''Contaminazione'' album, released in 1973 with lyrics written by Sergio Bardotti and Giampiero Scalamogna.

''Contaminazione'' follows the trends of the time, it's an album heavily inspired by Classical Music, resulting to a work of complex Prog Rock with hard-edged guitars and keyboards in the forefront, obviously linked to NEW TROLLS ''Concerto grosso'' due to Bacalov's presence and the dominant display of some powerful string sections.On the other hand they had surfaced with their own identity, while ''Concerto grosso'' was much more of a harmonic and well-flowing release, ''Contaminazione'' is characterized by a dark atmosphere, ranging from melacholic lyrics to mascular guitar attacks.Split in 13 tracks, this album flows as a single suite with monster orchestral arrangements and excellent keyboard parts, including Hammond organ, piano, harsichord and synthesizers, evolving from Classical themes with a sweet atmosphere to complicated keyboard parts with a very dense and compact sound.This one grows with every listening, as every single part has its own approach, it often comes close to the works of LATTE E MIELE, trying to combine romantic tunes and interludes with Symphonic/Hard Rock.The vocals are absolutely great, mostly delivered in a sentimental tone and placed between the complex instrumental passages for a more balanced sound.Cinematic textures and early-60's Psych influences are also detected in here, but the bulk goes for keyboard-based Symphonic Rock with some beautiful dual executions and the usual presence of electric guitars around.

The band played live also in France and Switzerland, the later country became the home of Pino Ballarini in late-73', replaced for a few concerts by Semiramis' Michele Zarrillo.After an English version of their classic in 1975 the band fell apart to be reformed twenty years later by Enzo Vita, leading to some more studio releases, far from the classic style of Il Rovescio Della Medaglia and closer to a more AOR/radio-friendly sound.''Live in Tokyo'' though, released in 2014 on Immaginifica, offers a good live take by the recent formation on the classic ''Contaminazione'' album.

Very good Classical Prog with some emphatic keyboard and string arrangements, almost a classic of the genre, twisting between cinematic and haunting soundscapes.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mr. Mustard

3 stars Classical influence isn't a wild concept for progressive rock, but RPI group Il Rovescio Della Medaglia take this to another level with this Bach inspired album. Working off of Bach's works, the band manages a unique blend of this influence and the standard sound Italian progressive groups are generally known for. That is to say, the listener should find no shortage of intense, dramatic, and beautiful moments a like.

Being of course based on Bach, there is pure orchestral work visited throughout the album, particularly of the Baroque variety, but this never takes away from the prog moments, which are highlighted by keyboard riffs, heavy guitar work, and memorable vocal lines.

Made up by a collection of abnormally short songs, this shortened length doesn't lend too much variety between songs. Instead the albums strength relies on distinctiveness in the songs themselves. Themes are often cycled through quite rapidly leaving little room for repetition and development. This is perhaps my only complaint of the album, though a minor one at that.

Seekers of an album with a perfect balance between heavy Italian prog, and classical music need look no further. With few flaws aside, Contaminazione is a dynamic album that deserves a solid spot in the RPI oeuvre.

7/10

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by AEProgman

5 stars Absolutely Marvelous!

It has been a while since I reviewed an album, mainly when I first joined the forum and picked some of my old favorites (plus a new one or two) until the novelty for me wore off. Since reviewing is harder and more time consuming than it appears, at least if it is to be one worthwhile, I prefer to read others. That being said, I am at my 1 year anniversary of hearing RPI music for the first time and then fell head over heels into it. So I felt compelled to pay homage to the genre by reviewing a RPI album that continues to amaze me, that being Rovescio Della Medaglia's Contaminazione.

It would have been easy to pick PFM's Per Un Amico as that was my first album that started it all and was blown away by it, as well as albums by Le Orme, Area, Quella Vecchia Lonconda, and some others. I do not speak or understand Itailian which does not bother me, but adds to the mystery and charm of the music. I have a feeling if I understood the lyrics, I would not be nearly as fond of RPI as I am (like some of the english speaking bands I have heard). The vocals are another instrument for me.

Now for the album, it is a remarkable blend of various forms of prog and classical music. Don't be misled by the classical reference, it is prog at its finest. However, from information on this album, it is a work based on J.S. Bach's "The Well Tempered Clavier". I always like reviewers who let me know their interpretation of what the tracks sounded like, so here goes:

The first two tracks, Absent for this Consumed World and Ora non ricordo piu merge together as a dreamy interlude with some vocal harmonies that have a Queenish flavor to them.

The third track, Il suono del silenzio, covers a variety of musical territories mixing in some heavy riffs, playful psychedelic keyboards which later morph into heavier classic organ, good vocals, and baroque style moments. Sort of lets you know what to expect for the rest of the album.

Next is Mi sono svegliato e... ho chiuso gli occhi, just beautiful orchestra and organ beginning that builds into a darker mood with vocals that fit perfectly. This jumps into Lei sei tu: Lei, sort of a duel effect of clean guitar, excellent bass and drum work with great vocal harmonies with a mid section of seamless mix of orchestral strings.

The 6th track is La mia musica, a very soulful sad, but beautiful song with piano and organ mix, and oh yes, great vocal and string section harmonies again.

Johann is a short song that for some reason reminds me of a Zeppelin folk song with haunting, distant vocals and guitar.

Scotland Machine and Cella 503 go hand in hand into each other and we are back at our theme of covering many wonderful territories in varied time signatures as in the 3rd track (and throughout the album). Lots of psych keyboards, guitar riffs, strings, great flute work, a flamenco acoustical moment, and a lovely dueling banter of classical instruments (a little brass also) versus a proggy synth and drum combo. Then breaks into heavy guitar form into a dramatic pipe organ. What a delight.

Contaminazione 1760 is very Ian Anderson sounding with excellent soloing flute play.

Alzo un muro elettrico is a nice heavy guitar driven song and the usual excellent mix of orchestral strings and vocal harmonies, with a light jazzy moment in between. Very nice.

Sweet Suite begins with soft, erie classic organ with clean guitar mix which feeds into the finale, La grande fuga, just a majestic and very climatic end with all instruments in full glory. Makes goose pimples on my arms every time!

It gets a rating of 5 stars. It is a RPI classic and the musicianship is excellent. I hope that those who have not ventured into this genre give it a try, it has more to offer than the beautiful compositions heard here, it has many varied styles. I love it and am getting constantly surpised that music like this was around back in the 70s and I had not heard any of it until a year ago.

 Contamination by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.91 | 40 ratings

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Contamination
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by coasterzombie

4 stars By 1975, the golden era of Rock Progressivo Italiano had all but ended, leaving bands like Rovescio Della Medaglia at a crossroads; many folded up entirely, some formed new groups and went on to play jazz fusion (Etna, Il Volo, Baricentro, etc.), and a few sought the international market (PFM, Le Orme, Banco). RDM, willing or not, were lumped into that last category when RCA decided to milk every last drop of their classic 1973 album Contaminazione for all it was worth - by releasing an English-sung version for Europe and the US. RDM had essentially ceased to be a band by this point, having nearly all their equipment stolen resulting in an indefinite hiatus for most of 1974. A changing of the guard was occurring, as new groups like Maxophone, Arti e Mestieri and Agora were finding success with a hybrid of progressive rock and jazz like never before. Why the label had RDM overdub English lyrics on an already perfect album is anyone's guess; to me Contamination is like painting a smile on the Mona Lisa, but there are also unnecessary sonic choices that prevent the album from equaling its 5-star counterpart.

Reviewing a variation of an already classic album is challenging in that the music itself is not really subject to critique. The physical product in and of itself is the object being reviewed. And in this case, Contamination has some subtle, almost undetectable flaws that may not be apparent unless a side by-side comparison is done. Take for instance the initial surge of "Johann's Rock" aka "Il Suono del Silenzio" - the original sounds blisteringly heavy and crisp while the English version is a midrange mess, flat and compressed, atop with a pale imitation of those cavernously resonant vocals. By the time Luiz Bacalov's orchestration comes in, the harpsichord sounds listless and ordinary, and the strings lifeless. If you had never heard Contaminazione, it would be a non-issue and the impressive quality of the composition would shine right through...but the obsessive RPI clinician will notice right away, and always prefer the genuine article.

This is not to say the lyrics themselves are laughable and embarrassing - on the contrary - Contamination succeeds where earlier attempts by Osanna and Acqua Fragile failed. Here the affect is limited, and only a remnant of Italian accent is heard. The original lyrical concept is intact and even benefits from translation. Fortunate we are to have corresponding language copies of Maxophone, Felona and Sorona and Photos of Ghosts; in the case of mistakes like Ibis' Sun Supreme we will never be so lucky. But the fact that Contamination cannot stand on its own and is a supplemental purchase by nature prevents it from being essential in my book, the high level of music on display notwithstanding. Having said that, completists and those struggling with foreign-language prog will eat this up, and hopefully develop a more sophisticated palate because of it.

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Here's an enjoyable Rock Progressivo Italiano tour de force on which Il Rovescio della Medaglia put their own twist (or "Contamination") on the work of J.S. Bach, mashing up their own original compositions with themes from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Pino Ballarini plays some dynamite flute on here, and whilst it's a bad habit to compare every prog band which includes flute to Jethro Tull the hard rock style in which Ballarini plays his instrument really does remind me of Ian Anderson's approach; meanwhile, Franco Di Sabbatino's keyboard style shows an impressive range, from Keith Emerson-like flamboyance and forcefulness to a more subtle approach which puts me in mind of David Kaffineti of Rare Bird (and Spinal Tap, though it's his work in Rare Bird I'm reminded of here). Whilst I wouldn't put it in the top tier of RPI releases from the 1970s, it's certainly a decent one which is worth exploring once you've covered the RPI essentials.
 ...Giudizio Avrai by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Live, 1988
3.07 | 8 ratings

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...Giudizio Avrai
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Todd
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano!

3 stars A very nice surprise!!

This album came as a surprise to me in many ways. This band is one of my favorite in the RPI genre, but I didn't realize that this album existed until recently. Their first two albums are more along the lines of heavy prog and hard rock power trio with flute, with the thunderous bass of Stefano Urso commanding most of the attention. Then for their masterpiece, their third album Contaminazione, they added keyboardist Franco di Sabbatino. He immediately took a preeminent role in this amazing symphonic album. There are flashes of their first two albums, as well as bursts of flute from Pino Ballarini, but the keyboard and symphony take the lead. The band during this time was famous for their amazing liveshows, featuring quadrophonic sound and coordinated lights--just never seen in RPI bands during this time.

But disaster soon followed. Theft of their expensive equipment seemed to spell the end of the band. Vocalist/flautist Pino Ballarini soon departed, apparently replaced for a brief time by Michele Zarrillo from now defunct Semiramis. (What a show that would be!)

But about three years after that, the band was down to a quartet, with no vocalist. They performed this show in 1976 (some sources say 1975), which is completely different stylistically from their first two heavy albums and from their third symphonic album. This live show is keyboard-dominated as well, but this time the style is spacey atmosphere with a strong rhythm section and jazzy guitar outbursts. About 45 minutes of really fun improv. And despite it being a bootleg recording, the sound is pretty good. The band officially released the album in 1988, on limited run LP only. But you can find the entire album on YouTube. So have at it! Enjoy a slice of RPI history, and imagine what might have been. 3+ stars (Gnosis 10/15)

 Contaminazione by ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, IL album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.19 | 332 ratings

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Contaminazione
Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This band had made two albums of heavy prog when they collaborated with L. E. Bacalov, who had made Concerto Grosso with NEW TROLLS. The difference to their previous works must be notable, since they didn't even have a keyboard player before. Contaminazione is loaded with organ, piano and synths, without forgetting the excellent electric guitar of Enzo Vita. It also has a Baroque-style orchestration by Bacalov. The album is based on the harpsichord work The Well Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach.

Apart from a couple of opposite opinions, this album is highly respected and enjoyed. Quite rightly so. The arrangements are gorgeous, combining the world of Art Music and that of (relatively hard) rock. The result is shamelessly ambitious, dramatic and emotionally powerful. I also like the presence of vocals (sadly my Italian's too bad for understanding the lyrics!). ELP did their interpretation on Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in their own style, Renaissance owe something to Rimsky-Korsakov with their Scheherazade, etc. In my opinion this album is among the best Art Music adaptations - and other orchestral works - in Prog. Bach melodies are recognizable here and there (e.g. the opening of 'Ora non ricordo piu'), but the group made a unique, original work of their own. Many tracks are very progressive even separately, and more so when they form the whole concept.

Classic RPI albums are often short; this is 36 minutes. Some tracks may be too heavy for my taste, but I agree this is a masterpiece in its field (though I can understand not everybody enjoys it at all). Bach could be at least as proud of this innovative adaptation as of numerous jazz versions of his works. I like the cover art too.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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