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New Trolls - Concerto Grosso Per I New Trolls CD (album) cover


New Trolls


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.74 | 226 ratings

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3 stars Many Progressive Rock fans hail the 1971 album "Concerto Grosso Per I New Trolls" as the group's best album and one of the most important Italian Progressive Rock albums. Although I'm not sure I agree with either claim, the album's influence on Italian Progressive Rock groups is undeniable given its popularity at the time and its fusion of rock with classical-style music.

This was not the first attempt at fusing rock and classical styles, but probably the first attempt by an Italian rock group. A concerto grosso is a form of Baroque music normally consisting of four to six movements in which the music is passed between a small group of soloists and the orchestra. Composers who used this style or variations on it include Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

The correct album title is "Concerto Grosso Per I New Trolls", but it is sometimes referred to as "Concerto Grosso No. 1" because in 1976 the group tried to repeat the success with the album "Concerto Grosso No. 2".

The album has five tracks, the first four of which form the Concerto Grosso and were composed by Argentinean composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov. Actually the Concerto Grosso really only consists of the first three tracks, as the fourth is a coda rehashing the second movement's theme in the style of JIMI HENDRIX. Bacalov, who lives and works in Italy, is a prolific composer of movie scores (soundtracks), including those for some early Spaghetti Westerns. He was awarded an Oscar for best original dramatic score for the 1994 movie Il Postino. In fact, allegedly his compositions for this album were initially intended for a movie soundtrack.

The first movement, 'Allegro', starts with the faux tuning-up by the orchestra and the tapping of the conductor's baton, introducing a short instrumental piece using the group's modern rock instruments and breathy flute interspaced with predominantly orchestral music reminiscent of Vivaldi. It's pleasant, albeit pretentious, and easy to whistle along to. According to the sleeve notes of the CD I own, the piece has a light, intentionally kitsch, flavour.

The second movement, 'Adagio (Shadows)', is a very relaxing song in English, with a hum-along melody. The phrase "to die, to sleep, maybe to dream", repeated several times, is a nod to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Sounding rather like the soundtrack of a romance la Love Story, pretty swathes of violin (often accompanied by twangy electric guitar) give the music a classical feel. This is another pleasant track.

The third movement, 'Cadenza - Andante Con Moto', starts with solo violin, again reminiscent of Vivaldi, then turns into movie score music with swathes of violin and twangy guitar, and finally returns to music in the style of Vivaldi. Again the singing is in English and the phrase "to die, to sleep, maybe to dream" crops up several times. The violins and harpsichord are pretty and this is another relaxing, hum-along track.

'Shadows (for Jimi Hendrix)' features Di Palo's guitar playing which is very reminiscent of JIMI HENDRIX, hardly surprising as the track is dedicated to JIMI HENDRIX and Di Palo was very influenced by him. The singing is again in English (with a more noticeable Italian accent this time). The oft-repeated phrase "to die, to sleep, maybe to dream" creeps in over organ, followed by some groovy, breathy flute. There are some good Hendrix-like licks near the end. The track sounds very 1960s-ish.

The fifth and final track is the long one: twenty and a half minutes of alleged improvisation by the group. This is my favourite track on the album, and ironically not part of the concerto grosso. This track is, in my opinion, less pretentious than the rock-classical fusion of the preceding tracks and is no-nonsense, funky Progressive Rock. Fabulous electric organ at the beginning turns into a really groovy, boogie sound - quite DEEP PURPLE-sounding and very satisfying - introducing again some Hendrix-like guitar plus breathy flute. The guitar is great, actually. A short part in the middle of the track sounds like the theme from Mission Impossible! The brief singing is in Italian on this track. There is a hiatus and the music, with distorted organ or electric piano, then takes on a very funky, jazzy style in which the DEEP PURPLE-like organ comes in again with some good distorted guitar. Finally, Belleno performs a drum solo, which goes on too long really, and the group brings the piece to a close.

Well, how to rate this album? Historically it is interesting as it was the first attempt (as far as I am aware) by an Italian group to create a work of rock-classical fusion. It also should be judged in the context of its era, which should bump up its rating really. However, I have to be honest and say that I am not bowled over by it and do not regard the album as the masterpiece that many claim it to be. Nevertheless it is an enjoyable album and fans of Italian Progressive Rock would no doubt find it a worthwhile purchase, although I have my doubts that all fans of Progressive Rock would be as enthusiastic. At the end of the day I do not regard the music as essential or particularly memorable. It's rather variable in my opinion, but does make for easy listening (foreground or background). I would award the album 3.5 stars if such a thing was possible, but I think I'll settle for 3 stars (Good, but not essential).

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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