Review by Rasmus Heide
A gorgeous, contemplative 25-minute prayer piece for choir, piano and strings, From Darkness To Light engulfs the mature crowd of concert goers at Nürnberg’s Meistersingerhalle on Sunday night.
2011 has been a stunning year for Jon; several Blues Project shows; a stack of Concerto concerts in Europe and Russia; a victorious Sunflower Jam at London’s Royal Albert Hall (complete with fierce bluesrock jam with Joe Bonamassa, a buoyant Bourree, the deeply personal beauty of Pictured Within and much more); and most recently a preciously delicate presentation of To Notice Such Things at a small rural church in Sussex…
This vast display of musical brilliance is broadened even further tonight in Nürnberg as he adds a choir piece to his resume. This unreleased music is – again – a new flavour from him, and one that he masters with underplayed excellence.
On and evening dedicated to the betterment of the world, infusing the listeners with an urge to pause and ponder our lost opportunities of the past, Karl Jenkins‘ The Armed Man, A Mass For Peace – complete with accompanying archival war footage – is an overwhelming and unrelenting illustration of the enormous effort humans invest in killing each other.
In stark contrast to this, Jon Lord’s piece opens the evening as a tribute to – and wish for – optimism.
Performed to musical perfection by the Lehrersingerverein Choir and the Nürnberg Symphonic Orchestra under the seasoned direction of Bernd Dietrich, solo tenor Thomas Fahner at the edge of the stage is competent and aware of fulfilling his role as leading voice in front of the approximately 100 strong choir.
The alert stillness in the audience speaks volumes of the glorious qualities in Jon’s music – its inner peace and the deep reflectiveness it inspires – and at the end, the energy released in a persistent ovation sends warm waves of respect and well wishes in Jon’s direction. (continued under photo)
But Jon is not here in person. On top of all the musical brilliance, 2011 has also dealt him a dragon to be slain – cancer – and experiencing this choir piece – which in essence is one long prayer – with that personal battle in mind, underscores Jon’s life reaffirming ability to evoke emotions and display scenery in the minds of his listeners.
Opening with a tingle, growing and swelling with the choir, From Darkness To Light induces thoughtfulness and a strong calm of mind. As the music rises and fades, the choir goes from softly carressing in the background to majestically throwing itself to the fore in a rush of gusto.
Jon’s spiritual presence is vivid. Closing one’s eyes, you can picture him within the music, sat at the grand piano center stage, his right shoulder slightly raised during intense moments, always keeping a watchful eye on the conductor and ear on the music.
From Darkness To Light shines with hope, and – as Jon says in the programme ‘it would be great if the music could move people.’ It certainly did. Thank you, Jon, and we will see you soon.