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Jon LORD (b. 1941)
Boom of the Tingling Strings - for Piano and Orchestra (Adagio Assai [8:52]; l'Istesso Tempo [6:22]; Adagio [7:25]; Allegro Giusto [13:55]) (2002) [36:36]
Disguises – Suite for Strings (M.A.S.Q.U.E. Poco Adagio - Allegro Moderato E Poco Pesante [14:22]; Music for Miriam. Adagio [10:17]; Il Buffone (G.C.). Allegro Vivace [10:52]) (2003) [35:38]
Nelson Goerner (piano)
Odense Symfoniorkester/Paul Mann
rec. 11-15 December 2006, Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark. DDD
EMI CLASSICS 3905282 [72:14]
Experience Classicsonline

The composer Jon Lord rose to fame in the 1970s as a member of Deep Purple and since then has been in a variety of rock bands. None of this has limited his compositional impulses. For the past forty years he has been diligently creating symphonic works and finding ways to get them recorded. As a result, he has operated a successful symphonic career in parallel with his rock and blues artistry.  Happily, like Frank Zappa before him, Lord’s myriad musical interests have blended to make interesting and innovative music.
Now, released for the first time, here are two of his more recent symphonic pieces. They are both in some measure, autobiographical with the first piece also being derived partially from the D.H. Lawrence poem “Piano” and the other drawing inspiration from personalities of people Lord knows personally.
The four movements of “Boom of the Tingling Strings” play without pause or interruption and display the ample talents of Nelson Goerner on piano. In places the music is reminiscent of Gershwin’s Concerto in F, Mendelssohnn’s Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”), and various John Williams or Danny Elfman film scores. The opening is intense, theatrical and dark. The theme is introduced on vibraphone and low strings. This moves through harp and various of the woodwind sections while the timpani provide a sombre rumble. It could easily be the intro to the next Batman film with that intense, dark feel. Once the mood relaxes the piano comes to the fore. First it offers a point of relaxation and de-intensification to serve as remission from the first seven minutes.
The piano writing is exquisite, and is clearly intended for virtuoso performers; Lord did make it clear that he did not write this for himself to play. Rather he wanted to write something truly virtuosic. Though he is certainly not an unaccomplished pianist, Lord wanted to be unfettered by his own playing abilities. This approach is quite successful, especially in the fourth movement where the piano part is worthy of Chopin in alternating virtuosic fireworks with tender delicacy. It would not be surprising to find in fifty years time that this has become standard literature for piano accomplishment. Both the writing and the performance are masterful.
Disguises is wholly distinct in nature from Boom of the Tingling Strings, though drawn from largely the same harmonic library. It harks back to the work of John Corigliano rather than to the more distant past. A variety of styles are employed but a constant is the expression of intensity conveyed through the strings. One can easily hear the echoes of Corigliano’s film score to The Red Violin or his clarinet concerto - even though there is no clarinet in the score. The second movement, “Music for Miriam”, even features solo violin much of the time. The harmonies are often Impressionist or Romantic in nature but free tonality is applied. The liberal use of glissandi prevents the listener from placing the overall work in too early a time period. The final movement seems to add influence from Beethoven with its strongly stated themes and thick, lush harmonies employed through the strings. Again this is a very solid piece of music, although it is easily understood why the other work takes precedence over it.
This is definitely an album worth exploring. While not completely groundbreaking, it is infinitely listenable and enjoyable. The title piece may even be a masterwork.
Patrick Gary

see also review by Rob Barnett



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