Customer Review

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jon Lord goes from strength to strength, 26 Mar 2008
This review is from: Boom of the Tingling Strings (Audio CD)
As I write in late March 2008 Jon Lord's recently released Durham Concerto is doing well and it is a pleasure to have another disc of his classical works released, this time on EMI Classics. If you liked the Durham Concerto you can purchase this disc with confidence. If anything this is the stronger release.

A word about the track listing of the CD. Whoever put the tracks in for Amazon has made a bit of a mess. Boom of the Tingling Strings is a four movement work, followed by the three movements of Disguises.

Boom of the Tingling Strings is not a conventional Piano Concerto, neither is it a piano symphony. Jon Lord describes it as being born out of his appreciation of the piano, and that as he was writing it he found himself tracing the path of his own life in it as well. It comes across as an attractive work in an approachable style. Or rather collection of styles. There is a good helping of English 20th Century pastoral music in here, as well as modern cinematic classical style, jazz, a generous cascades of notes on the piano, and a fair amount more as well.

The first movement begins quietly, with occasional chimes where we would expect to find the first notes on the piano. Finally after 6 minutes the piano joins in ushering a beautiful late 19th century Russian ballet style finale to the movement. If Jon Lord had been content to continue to develop the music introduced so far we would be presented with something like the music we have been waiting for from Mike Oldfield ever since the original Tubular Bells. But Lord has plenty more ideas to add to the pot. In the second movement a Debussy-like flute converses with jazzy elements that include a bar room piano and a bach-gone-blues bassline. The mood of the third movement is set with a classic English theme on the woodwind that is joined by gently cascading arcs of piano notes. The tranquillity is shattered by a percussive burst at the start of the final, fourth movement. Suddenly everything is movement and energy. Piano, xylophone and those chimes from the first movement sound at the same time. After nine minutes there is a movement of quiet before the music builds towards the finale. The entire orchestra has its say including the brass singing out a fanfare and the work ends satisfyingly and triumphantly.

Disguises is a three movement work for string orchestra. Each movement is the portrait of someone. Of the composer Malcolm Arnold, of Jon Lord's late mother Miriam, and of the third describes an old larger than life friend who remains anonymous. The whole work is dedicated to Malcolm Arnold who encouraged Jon Lord for many years before his death in 2006.

The first movement is a classic string orchestra movement of considerable emotional complexity, like the man it describes. The second movement is the most beautiful thing I have heard from Jon Lord - a high register solo violin takes centre stage, accompanied by the other strings, as if this were the central slow movement in a violin concerto. The mood is wistful, and full of love. It brings to mind Vaughan Williams and Arnold Bax. The final movement is episodic with alternating lively and quiet passages and shows Jon Lord's skill to the full. But then so does everything in this work from start to finish. It is a long work of its kind: 35 minutes long. Jon Lord shows complete command of string orchestra writing. I really think it is one of the finest large scale string orchestra works from Britain in the last 100 years. It can stand comparison with the music of Vaughan Williams, Walton and Arnold amongst others

So, to sum up: a CD of the highest quality. The playing and recording are excellent. On this form Jon Lord is no crossover artist. Especially with Disguises he shows himself to be a first rate composer full stop.
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