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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - PFM In Classic - Da Mozart A Celebration CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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4 stars I am honoured to write the first review about Premiata Forneria Marconi's latest album "PFM in classic: Da Mozart A Celebration" which is a very different one. Partially it feels like pure classical music and that is of course totally lovely. On this record plays PFM: Franz di Cioccio(vocals, drums), Franco Mussida(guitar,vocals) and Patrick Djivas(bass) with Lucio Fabbri as a special keys and vocals guest and also Roberto Gualdi on drums and Alessandro Scagleoni on keyboards and finally a full orchestra. The cover picture is bright and further plays on the classical theme.

Directly I understood this was a nice album. Especially the first CD is worth praising where Premiata Forneria Marconi does wonderful versions of some of our most lovely classical compositions. As I wrote, sometimes it's very classical and at other moments it sounds like rock but mostly it's a perfect fusion, impossible to analyze in smaller fragments. The quality of this music is very high and PFM's classical addaptions are higly recommended. "Il flauto magico - Overture"(Mozart) (10/10) is surely perfect, a lovely piece of progressive rock or classical music or what you'd like to call it. It's also impossible to not love "Romeo e Giulietta - Danza dei cavalieri"(Prokofiev)(10/10) or Rimskij-Korsakov's "La grande Pasqua russa"(10/10).

On the other CD PFM plays their old "hits" but now in a totally different style with a very present orchestra. Especially impressive are the tracks "La luna nouva" (from L'isola...)and "Impresioni di Settembre" have such a power with the orchestra's work. The album is totally lovely so five stars would'nt have been a wrong decision. I have a little problem with the format where one half seems to be a rework of old material(even if they're great). Perhaps the first CD would have been enough to make a perfect recording. With absolutely no sign of a bad track this is something beautiful I recommend you to eat. A wonderful 2013 release, totally free from the time's shackles.

Report this review (#1048382)
Posted Monday, September 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I had kind of high expectations of this album. I mean, look at all these fine music men - Mozart, Saint-Saens, Verdi, Rossini, Rimsky-Korsakov: would you expect anything but excellency? Especially when delivered by one of the most capable symphonic bands in the RPI realm, reinforced by no less than a whole symphonic orchestra!

Here is a problem #1: PFM and the orchestra .. they kind of play next to each other (seen it on the pic, folks!), but not really together? Problem #2: the musicians do deliver an adequate version of e.g. the Magic Flute, followed by an equally adequate piece of the PFM making .. fine .. only it's not clear what the thought process behind this sequence of musical pieces? What's the message/ What's the expected aesthetic effect upon the listener? Same pattern continues throughout the first 2/3 of the album: a classical piece, followed by a PFM symph piece; no connection and no logic in transition, it seems. .

But towards the end the things get even sadder: the classical/symph rock toggling is replaced by some benign, powder-faced, politically correct pop. As far as I am concerned, la forneria e chiusa. Three stars out of respect for the PFM's 1970s past.

Report this review (#1064318)
Posted Monday, October 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars It's kinda hard to be into Progressive Rock and not be aware of Premiata Forneria Marconi. This classic Italian band was formed more than 40 years ago and it is still running the long run!

Their new project, In Classic ? Da Mozart A Celebration (2013) is a very special one, to the fans and to the band. The double album released by Immaginifica takes PFM to the Classical world! On the 2 discs of In Classic ? Da Mozart A Celebration (2013) we have the band celebrating great classic composers such as Mozart, Dvorak, Prokofiev and Verdi with a full orchestra. Not just that, on the second disc they take their own music and give them the full orchestral treatment too.

PFM's line up is nowadays compressed of the trio of original members Franz Di Cioccio (vocals, drums and percussion), Patrick Djivas (bass) and Franco Mussida (vocals and guitars). But on this big project they also had Lucio Fabbri (violin and keyboards), Roberto Gualdi (drums and percussion) and Alessandro Scaglione (keyboards) to complement the sound. And of course, the Symphonic Orchestra directed by Bruno Santori.

On the disc 1 we have Classical compositions re-arranged for the band and orchestra. The nice thing here is to see a different repertoire. Rock albums with orchestras have been done thousands of times and when they play Classical music is all the same tunes, but not on PFM's case. 7 pieces, 7 really different choices. The opening 'In Flauto Magico' by Mozart is maybe the most recognizable one. We also have 'Danza Macabra' by Saint-Saëns, 'Danza Slava No1' by Dvorak, 'Sinfonia No5' by Mahler, 'Romeo And Giulietta' by Prokofiev (maybe another recognizable one), 'La Grande Pasqua Russa' by Rimskij Korsakov and 'Nabucco' by Verdi.

The result on disc 1 is somewhat really different. You can obviously hear the orchestra, but the band is not just playing over them. No! Sometimes it is the perfect mix of the band and orchestra and it is even hard to say that those are Classical pieces, like on 'La Grande Pasqua Russa' for instance. A special mention has to be given to the beautiful version of 'Sinfonia No5'. Though disc 1 is absolutely brilliant, I must say that I was really eager to hear the disc 2 with the PFM material!

In fact there are only 5 PFM songs: 'La Nuova Nuova' from the album L'Isola Di Niente (1974), 'Promenade The Puzzle' from Photos Of Ghosts (1973), 'Dove? Quando' and 'Impressioni Di Settembre' from Storia Di Un Minuto (1972), and an unexpected 'Maestro Della Voce' from Suonare Suonare (1980). They also venture themselves into a kind of patchwork that they called 'Suite Italiana' where they mix Mendelssohn, Rossini and themselves. Just by looking at this tracklist I can say that I would like to have more tracks by the band. Having only 5 seems little in a first glance. But that's not completely the case!

The perfect match of rock/orchestra in 'La Luna Nuova' took my mind off any extra thing besides the music. I would honestly drop 'Promenade The Puzzle' for another song, not that the version is bad, on the contrary, but I think there are far more stronger tracks in their catalogue.

While 'Maestro Della Voce' is a track with a Jazz Rock/cabaret feeling, 'Impressioni Di Settembre' is another perfect track. 'Suite Italiana' is a delight, and 'Celebration' (the English name for the original song 'Č Festra') was the right choice for this mix. We still have one bonus track 'Guglielmo Tell' from Rossini's repertoire to complete the CD.

In Classic ? Da Mozart A Celebration (2013) comes lavishly packed in a fabulous digipack with a great artwork and a clever cover.

It is indeed amazing to finally listen to Premiata Forneria Marconi playing with a full orchestra, their music has always been Classical influenced anyway, so nothing more rewarding for fans and the band. This would be a 5 stars album if not by the fact that I would like to have more tracks from the band's catalogue instead of the Classical adaptations. Maybe some other time?

Fans of the band and fans of good music, come together and listen to In Classic ? Da Mozart A Celebration (2013), you should!

It's in fact a 4.5 stars, but between 4 and 5, it's a high 5!

(Originally posted on

Report this review (#1076263)
Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's become a real fashion to perform your music with an orchestra again these days so I wasn't too sure what to think of this release when I first saw it, whether it would be pretentious and done just for the sake of it or a great collaboration. While I don't know about PFM's intention with this release I must say that I'm mostly very satisfied with what they've done. They haven't just done orchestral reworkings of their own songs but the first CD is filled with great classical pieces that have been rearranged to work together with the band and for the most part it works very well.

It goes without saying that the musical quality of the pieces selected could hardly be improved but PFM have treated them with respect and added their own ideas in between while some passages remain as in the original piece. Sometimes this also makes it seem a bit forced to mingle the classical orchestral piece with the band's performance so that they stand alongside each other a bit but for the most part their approach is very pleasant to listen to.

The opening of "Il flauto magico - Ouverture" with Djivas' great bass playing is absolutely gorgeous, I could listen to this bit many times in a row and still be delighted. They've included Mozart's themes so well that it could not have been a better opener. After that the quality drop a bit for me but not by a lot. Certainly Mussida's great guitar playing also really puts PFM's stamp on the music and his solo guitar opening of "Sinfonia no 5 IV mov" really comes as a highlight to me again. As Mahler's emotional symphony then sets in, the atmosphere becomes very intense (positively), followed by a great jazzy part, which balances this slow beginning nicely. The track then closes with the symphony again. While the two parts seem only formally connected, the track is still overall a nice bit two listen to, even if rather as two songs. Verdi's Nabucco Overture closes the first CD brilliantly and is again beautifully arranged. The first and last tracks on CD one are certainly the highlights to me.

Unfortunately, I find the second CD less interesting as the orchestral engagement seems a bit forced. While the classical bits were mainly orchestral with the band added later on, in this bit it's the other way round and I guess that makes it more difficult to give the orchestra cues that bring new excitement to the music. The songs themselves are no doubt great, which is why the CD is in no way bad. To me, it's just rather a rerecording of classic PFM tracks with a bit of the orchestra in the background. I don't know if they could have made more out of it but I see it more as a rerecording than an exciting new arrangement.

Finally, "Suite Italiana" is very disappointing to me. I got very excited when I heard Mendelssohn's 4th "Italian" symphony (1st movement), which is one of my favourite symphonies. It is then followed by "Č Festa" (or "Celebration") but the two seem entirely unrelated. The music is great of course but it is entirely unclear to me what the link is supposed to be. So the disappointment only lies in the way the two pieces are arranged, not the pieces themselves.

Overall a nice CD to listen to, certainly for fans of classical music and of PFM. Some really nice arrangements can be found on CD 1 especially. A great addition to any PFM-collection without a doubt. Recommended!

Report this review (#1549265)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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