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Deep Purple - Concerto for Group and Orchestra CD (album) cover


Deep Purple



3.21 | 297 ratings

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3 stars Reviewing such thing as a concert, somehow preserved for future listeners with the technology available under the circumstances, is more or less a no-no. But let us stick to the music. In the beginning there was the concerto grosso. Then came the solo concert.We have double concertos, and triple concertos, so why not merge both concepts into one, and provide a concerto grosso-solo concert, as the one we have in hands? The fact that the ripieno is a full symphony orchestra and the concertato is a rock group simply proves once more that the ways of art ar far from spent. But then again we hear solo parts, full-fledged cadenzas and the like, giving the piece enough characteristics of the solo concerto to allow the rightful title of 'concert' notwithstanding the fact that just by its name (concerto for group and orch) it is clearly a concerto grosso. One has to bear in mind the fact that this was heard more than thirty years ago. Those of us with enough time in this earth to remember those times are in a somewhat more privileged position to appraise the event than those who were born later. But it becomes extremely enlighting to read the opinions of such people, who only listen to the aural results of the proceedings, avoiding the cultural, social, economical and political 'ambiance' of those times, as opposed to the present.

The work is pioneering. Others have merged rock and classic, electric and acoustic, modern and traditional, but up to that time, the idea of a formal concert with rock group and orchestra, fully scored and rehearsed and not a rehash of established songs, had never been carried on. In the sixties one would have expected Iron Butterfly to try such, but it did not happen. The results of pioneering work as this concert is, falls beyond criticism. There were no equals to compare with, no possibilities of ranking against anything of the sort, and no established criteria for evaluating. It somehow reminds us of the absolutely new terrain to step upon the critics of the Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert had in front of them, or the general opinion of Ravel's Bolero, or Stravinsky's work. They are new, they break the usual, and they are there. One likes it or not, but criticism as such, is unthinkable.

And, as Jon Lord succintly put it, the expected antagonism between both forces happens. And the reconciliation, accord and cooperation follows. And the joy and merry of such accord, finishes.

And there you have, with unbiased thought, the analysis of the three movements. The characteristics of the event reflect in the recording (I own only the Capitol Records pressing available in the early 70's in Mexico, and I do not know if the recent releases are of a different source as far as miking and mastering is concerned) but the fact that thirty years from then we are writing about that concert clearly shows that the effort was not in vain. Long live the concert, and history certainly has a place for Jon Lord, Malcolm Arnold, Deep Purple, and all concerned.

If the sayings are true --that the orchestra, or part of it was not fully convinced of the value of the piece, that Mr Arnold had to tell them off ('this is music....") , that the guitarrist gave the orchestra a five minute lecture on brilliant electric guitar to 'break the ice' , that the singer somehow improvised even part of the lyrics-- it simply adds to the delight and emotion of re-listeing to the record. By the way, for those interested, listen to the first piece of the aforementioned 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert by Benny Goodman and Orchestra, listen carefully to the beginning, feel the caution and fear of the musicians, the conductor, the audience. Feel the panic grow, second by second, and wait for the astounding drum break about 90 seconds from the start. The drummer, Gene Krupa, explained in less than 3 seconds, loud and clear, 'it is now or never, pals' . The solo guitar in the first movement does that, and more. It clearly tells the Orchestra what can happen if cooperation is not full, the orchestra understands, feels its way, finds it in the second movement, and proves its worth in the third. All in all, a thrilling experience.

| 3/5 |


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