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4.6 out of 5 stars32
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2013
This was a great discovery. I bought it on the strength of knowing the earlier Focus albums very well, and after reading other people's reviews. It is indeed a good follow-on from the better-known Focus 3 album.
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on 28 December 2012
Based on the works of Bach and Hayden,beautiful organ and guitar work along with a top rhthym section.If its this or Moving Waves......get both.
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on 23 January 2016
In my mind best prog band ever this album not as good as focus 3 or moving waves but still good as you would expect from this great band.
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on 17 October 2014
Took me back to my School days and growing up in the late seventies, early eighties with some very different and progressive music.
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on 7 April 2007
Like (I suspect) a lot of people, I was really put off Focus in the 70s by the spectacularly hideous 'Hocus Pocus'. It was only last year I picked up a vinyl copy of Hamburger Concerto and was actually quite impressed by the excellence of the playing. More than that, however, there is a great sense of cohesion between the musicians which results in a very nice energy. Most of the time I would rather poke my own eyes out than listen to 'concept' albums, especially with classical pretensions, but this works very well indeed as an extended piece of instrumental music.

Everybody cites Akkerman and Van Leer as the creatives in this band, but Bert Ruiter on bass and Colin Allen (ex-Stone the Crows) on drums are really on top of their game. Along with King Crimson's Lark's Tongues in Aspic and a few others from that period, this actually deserves the label Progressive Rock.
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on 12 December 2008
Studio album #4, following Live at the Rainbow (of which, to this day, I've never heard a note), this was the last of them before the final disintegration of the Akkerman / Van Leer partnership ~ after that, it all went to pot. This one isn't helped by the masterful Pierre Van Der Linden having left to join another Dutch band, Trace, fronted by keyboards player Rick van der Linden (apparently entirely unrelated), which wasn't exactly a great career move, as he quit the music business after just one album with them ~ a tragic loss or what? His replacement, in Focus, was Colin Allen (formerly of Stone The Crows, about whose music I know nothing), who simply wasn't in the same league. By comparison with van der Linden, both his sound and style were simply flat and boring. Why they chose him I'll never know ~ surely there must have been a host of better drummers around at the time looking for a new home, not least with a band like Focus?

Sonically, musically and stylistically, Hamburger Concerto bears so little resemblance to its magnificent predecessor that you could almost be forgiven for failing to recognise this generation of Focus as (nearly) the same band from just a year or two earlier. In fact, the general feel of the album is somewhere between In And Out Of Focus (though with no vocals) and Moving Waves, their first and second albums from 1970 and `71 respectively. Moving Waves, for example, has a noticeably perkier air to it, at least on side 2. As I never owned the vinyl LP and the CD is a bit sparse on info, I don't know where this one was recorded, though by the sound and whole feel of it, it almost certainly wasn't Olympic Studios in Barnes, even though production credits were still in the hands of Mike Vernon, by this time a seasoned 29 years old.

That having said, there are flashes of the old magic here, whilst the 20 minute title suite on (what was originally) S.2 is pretty good, if not quite inspired. Noticeable by its absence though is any of the soaring, lightning-fingered, driving guitar, organ or flute work that made 3 such a flawless knockout. In places, one is also reminded of the likes of Rick Wakeman and Jethro Tull, which could never be said of their earlier work. In fact, this one almost has a plaintive, wistful air to it, as if they all knew their glory days were slipping away inexorably. Yet, for all that, it's okay now and again, albeit so overshadowed by III as to hardly bear comparison. That having said, the rendition of the title suite on The Ultimate Collection DVD is surprisingly good and somehow adds a new dimension of interest.

Oh yes ~ buying the digitally remastered edition is essential. The job's been well done (overseen by Mike Vernon) and the original CD issue is a very dreary transcription.
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on 23 October 2015
From the early days when Jan Ackerman was getting into his stride. This should be in every music lovers library
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on 26 November 2013
Their best CD in my view, I had the LP but not having a record player anymore I had to get this CD. ITs great!
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on 23 July 2014
I listened to this through my teenage years. Classic jazz rock, great chillout music from a fantastic band
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on 16 September 2011
While much of the earlier Focus music was framed around improvisation, in Hamburger Concerto the music is much more tightly arranged, more classical in approach than jazz, even though individual sections are classic guitar and keyboard rock. The results are great; the overall effect is upbeat and very dynamic, with most of the pieces changing tempo and style; the playing is exhuberant. There's even some real singing. THis demands more attention than Focus 3, and is none the worse for that
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