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What would he have accomplished if he had lived?,
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This review is from: London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & Ii (Audio CD)
I've owned a few Zappa albums for some years and I have often promised myself that one day I would give him the full attention he deserved. Well that process got underway a few weeks back, and I've acquired a handful of Zappa discs, and am now intent on acquiring more, lots more. Being a devotee of contemporary "classical" (ugh, I hate that word) music my selection had to include the London Symphony Orchestra set.
The first disc has really grabbed me. I will give the second more attention soon but it's the first that has really got to me. For me, it is as though in this music Zappa finally puts down the clown mask and shows you the true grandeur and beauty in his heart. As such, it's like nothing else in the Zappa canon (that I have encountered so far) and you can only wonder if, in respect of his orchestral composition, he was only just getting going. One can only wonder what might have been forthcoming if he had only lived to a proper old age. The pieces/movements still have the wacky titles but they are pretty irrelevant as they all flow into each other more or less seamlessly. It took me a few plays to get the initial hang of it. You have to kind of pick up from the very first note and then ride it and it will take you to all sorts of amazing places. The LSO does a fine job, despite Frank's scathing complaints (he was very strict after all) and they amply show that as well as being a highly original composer he was the most extraordinary orchestrator, with his instrument groupings full of strange and surprising combinations. Sad Jane, the middle two tracks is, to my ears, particularly beautiful.
The second disc, with tracks like Bogus Pomp and Strictly Genteel, is a move back towards the more familiar theatrical/satirical side of Frank's musical character, with some quite deliberately cheesy bits thrown in here and there. I'll be giving it further attention in due course.
It's my belief that in 200 years, when music has changed into something unrecognisable to us today, Zappa will be one of the tiny handful of musicians remembered from the era of rock.