Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra turned Friday night’s performance of Jon Lord’s ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’ into a victorious celebration of not only the orchestra’s own 100th anniversary, but also of Jon Lord’s versatile talents as a composer. The Hagen locals agreed and afforded the sold out show (1.200) a prolonged standing ovation at the end.
The concept of teaming up with a local orchestra to perform some of his orchestral pieces seems a successful (not to mention practical) way for Jon Lord to take his music ‘on the road’ more often.
The Concerto was performed for the first time without Jon Lord onstage. The group parts were played by local band DCRS, who had worked five years on this opportunity to perform Jon Lord’s classic work onstage.
Jon Lord has performed the Concerto some 40 odd times and in his introduction he also remarked that the piece is nearing its own 40th anniversary in 2009. Mentioning the orchestra’s anniversary, Jon Lord broke the ice by remarking dryly that he knows full well how long a 100 years is ..
A little tentative at first, the three movements of the Concerto at times seemed a tad slower than usual. Making the most of the evening, the DCRS band seemed to really pounce on their sections and guitarist Richard Güth and arranger and keyboard player Ralph Breitenbach even introduced inspired snippets of Purple classics in their solos (‘Speed King’ and ‘Mandrake Root’ respectively). Even the clarinet solo felt daringly jazzy.
The three movements each filled their role in the overall structure of the piece. The first movement displayed the beauty of the orchestra and the brutality of the group, the second movement starting off ominously, then moving into carefully executed displays of musical co-existence between group and orchestral, with the third movement coming at full celebrational throttle and sounding amazingly fluid.
In general the Hagen Concerto was a moving and enjoyable reacquaintance with an old friend, allowing listeners new and old to enjoy all the signature traits of Jon Lord’s orchestral brush, painting moods of elation, contemplation, joy, temper and playfulness.
The evening’s second half opened with a most welcome fierce and abbreviated version of ‘Fantasia’ from the ‘Sarabande’ album. This set the mood for a bombastic and emotional second set comprising pieces from Jon Lord’s solo albums, including for the first time in 30 years a full orchestral version of the ‘Sarabande’ title track.
‘The Telemann Experiment’ (from ‘Beyond the Notes’, 2004) was rhythmically elegant and groovy with Jon adding slight touches of boogie piano.
Tanja Schun with Jon Lord
The remainder of the show consisted of beautiful versions of ‘One From the Meadow’ and ‘Wait a While’ alternated with favourites from the ‘Sarabande’ album. ‘One from the Meadow’, gorgeously sung by Tanja Schun, moved the audience to possibly the evening’s longest applause afforded a single piece.
‘Sarabande’ remains a highlight of Jon Lord’s career. Most of it was written in California, where he lived at the time (1976), but it was recorded in Oererckenschwick, a small town near Dusseldorf not very far from Hagen. As such the swaying masterpiece title track came full circle on Friday, competently performed with ease and charm at Hagen Stadthalle with Ralph Breitenbach adding the synthesizer touches.
Jon Lord with Ralph Breitenbach
‘Gigue’ was the evening’s ‘display of fireworks’ closer, resplendently droused in Hammond and orchestral waves, grooving and bouncing from strength to strength. A genuine crowd pleaser and mood raiser, this piece never fails to impress and inspire.
Concerto for Group and Orchestra
The Telemann Experiment
One From the Meadow
Wait a While
Music (by John Miles)
Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra
Piano and Hammond organ: Jon Lord
Vocals: Jefferey Krueger and Tanja Schun
Keyboards: Ralph Breitenbach
Guitar: Richard Güth
Bass: Gunnar Polanski
Drums: Niko Mareske
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