Jon Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra is a modern musical work of art. One part classical and one part rock concert, this opus proves more than ever that music truly is the universal language. It’s a modern classical work that could so easily put modern masters the likes of Hans Zimmer and John Williams to shame. The way that the musicians so perfectly complement each other throughout each movement makes it sound just as much a movie soundtrack as a general modern classical opus.
The style and dynamic contrasts of this three movement piece will pull in audiences from both sides of the fence. And the addition of a top notch group of musicians on both ends to bring it all to life makes it that much more of a joy to hear. Steve Morse, Joe Bonamassa, and Darin Vasilev all join in on guitars, with Vasilev heading things in the first movement. Bonamassa comes in on movement two, while Morse finishes things off in movement three. Brett Morgan and Guy Pratt add their own touch to the work’s rock based sections. On the other side, the control of the orchestra (especially the strings) throughout what would seem to be the “B” section of the first movement. That section repeats later near the end of the movement, too. Classical fans will also recognize what is a reference to Gusatv Holst’s The Planets. As noted in the liner notes, there is a reference in the first movement to “Jupiter.” But it’s a bit of a surprise that there’s no mention that the final moments are equally similar to the final moments of “Mars.”
The immediate contrast of the brashness from the first movement into the second movement adds so much more emotion to the overall piece. It’s a total mood change. The way that it the second movement changes moods so much from one section to the next makes for even more discussion and enjoyment.
The intensity from the concerto’s first movement returns in its third movement full force, with the orchestra’s percussion and low brass holding court first. The woodwinds come in next, followed by the strings, and then even Hammond organ. It all comes together for what is without a doubt the entire concerto’s finest moment. While the entire movement is nearly eleven minutes long, it’s nearly eleven minutes well spent as even rockers who have never been fully introduced into the world of classical music will find themselves listening intently to the musicianship of this group, along with the rock elements. When it’s all said and done, it will leave audiences soundly appeased yet wanting more. That is the sign of a good recording.
Concerto for Group and Orchestra offers so much for both fans of classical and rock. One can only hope that it will serve its purpose and bring both sides together, perhaps making for new fans of the other side all the way around. This is a standout album, all the way around. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website, http://www.eagle-rock.com.
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