Jon Lord - 'Concerto For Group And Orchestra' (EarMusic) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jim Rowland   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 05:00

Jon_Lord_Concerto_CDThe rock world sadly lost a true legend this year in the shape of Jon Lord, one of the greatest rock keyboard players of all time. Rock fans are of course fully aware of the immense contribution he made to the sound of Deep Purple and Whitesnake, as well as Paice Ashton & Lord and numerous other projects. Perhaps less well known to rock fans was the immense amount of respect he also had as a modern classical composer. I had the honour of meeting him a few years back, and I can certainly vouch for the fact that he was a real gentleman too.


The project that first really put Lord on the map was his composition 'Concerto for Group and Orchestra', a pioneering attempt to fuse the worlds of classical and rock. First performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Deep Purple, it was the first project of the then brand new Mark II line up of Deep Purple, featuring new boys Ian Gillan, who wrote the lyrics, and Roger Glover. Despite the original score being lost pretty soon after that, it has been reconstructed and performed on many occasions since then, but never given the definitive studio recording that it so richly deserved -until now! This new version of the concerto was pretty much the last project that Lord would complete in his lifetime, having finally approved the mix you have here merely weeks before his death.


The new version features the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and brings together heavyweight rock talents such as Steve Morse, Joe Bonamassa, Bruce Dickinson, Guy Pratt, Brett Morgan and Darin Vasilev along with the good Lord himself to deliver the parts originally supplied by Deep Purple. The concerto itself is split into three movements with the first having the orchestra and group working independently of each other, the second seeing them integrate a bit more, and the third seeing a complete integration between the two without any clear distinction. As such, it's a true definition of 'progressive'.


Whether you would truly appreciate this work depends largely on where you stand with classical music. Like most Uber Rockers, my understanding of and appreciation of classical music is limited, so the classical parts do tend to wash over me a bit, but after a few listens I did find myself appreciating the thing as a whole. The second movement is the section that really features the vocals, and Bruce Dickinson does a superb job here recreating the part originally sung by Ian Gillan. Despite the fact that the lyrics are pretty basic, with Gillan having originally written them in haste, and pretty much describing the unnerving situation he found himself in having to sing on this concerto, the actual vocal melody is superb and a real highlight of the whole piece for me. It really boils down to whether you prefer Dickinson or Gillan's voice as both do a great job. I personally would sit on the Gillan side of the fence. Alongside Dickinson, Steve Morse, Joe Bonamassa and Darin Vasinlev all give superb performances of Blackmore's original guitar parts, as does Brett Morgan recreating the magic of Ian Paice on the drums. The third movement where the group and orchestra really works as one, and is a really exciting listen.


This new version of the concerto is a worthwhile listen for anyone with even a passing interest in the work of Jon Lord. I certainly appreciated the opportunity to reacquaint myself with this piece of work, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a tremendous legacy for the man to have left behind and clearly one of the major achievements of his career. It's also one of the things he will be most remembered for. For me, though I will be remembering him more for the scintillating keyboard solos he provided on Deep Purple classics such as 'Burn', 'Highway Star' and 'Space Truckin'' which illustrated that when it came to keyboard players in hard rock, there was no one greater.


To pick up your copy of 'Concerto For Group And Orchestra' - CLICK HERE