Entertainment :: Music

Jon Lord - Concerto For Group And Orchestra

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Wednesday Sep 4, 2013
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Many of the British rock icons that have paved the way for generations of future musicians began their studies as classical students prior to discovering the influences that would turn them from Bach to Blues, Elgar to Elvis, or Beethoven to Chuck Berry. Several of them, however, continued to occasionally straddle the fence of their inspirations, and the musical repertoire benefitted from these compositions. They included the Moody Blues’ "Days of Future Passed," and the orchestral rock of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. One of these lesser known, though no less accomplished, works was written by Jon Lord, the founder and organist of the band Deep Purple ("Smoke on the Water", "Highway Star").

Titled, "Concerto for Group and Orchestra," the young Brit created a three movement, 45-minute composition in which the orchestra would be in a musical struggle for superiority against a hard-rock band, originally represented by the members of the Deep Purple. String flourishes, horn tutti and solo clarinet cadenzas pit themselves up against scorching guitar solos, and the signature organ riffs that Lord would subsequently become known.

The debut of Lord’s work took place in 1969, with a number of performances taking place within the following year. At that point, however, the parts would mysteriously become lost forever. Little did Lord know that a Dutch composer named Marco de Goeij would solidify his lifelong love of the piece by transcribing it by himself. Fast forward to 1999, and through a combination of determination and fate, de Goeij and Lord were brought together in time to recreate the pages of "The Concerto" in time to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Albert Hall debut of the piece.

Now we have this "definitive" recording of the piece, overseen by de Goeij, conductor Paul Mann, and Lord, in the last year of his life, as the superstar passed away in the summer of 2012 from cancer, right after reviewing the final mixes and artwork for this release. In addition to Lord playing his classic Hammond B3, the recording features the talents of vocalist Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), bassist Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd), and the guitar trio of Darin Vasilev, Joe Bonamassa and the ever-amazing Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, and the latest incarnation of Deep Purple).

The Blu-Ray disc is a generous documentary of the making of this recording, but ultimately, one should just play the CD and respect an impressive crossover work by one of rock and roll’s most idolized keyboard players.

"Concerto for Group and Orchestra"
Jon Lord / Bruce Dickinson / Joe Bonamassa
Blu-Ray and CD
Thompson Music

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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