One of England's prime jazz-rock - or, more accurately, rock-jazz - outfits, most of the members of Colosseum had apprenticed in blues bands, and it shows very strongly on some of the material here. Both "The Kettle" and "Butty's Blues" are essentially tarted-up 12-bar blues, although they work well in a grander context; in the latter case much grander, as a brass ensemble enters for the last part, drowning out everything but the guitar, an indication that this recording is in dire need of remastering. "Elegy" is a fast-paced, minor-key blues that stretches guitarist James Litherland's vocal abilities. Things do get far more interesting with "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice," which offers solo opportunities to organist Dave Greenslade and sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith before re-emerging in what can only be called a proto-industrial style, all heavily treated clattering percussion…
A marvelous treatment of Pachelbel's lesser known works with a definitive performance of the all-too famous Canon. Too many interpreters of the Canon use the wrong tempo for this work, too slow and sentimental. This group does not and they have made it possible to listen to this work without gagging. They also do a wonderful job of presenting Buxtehude's chamber music. This composer is too often associated with ponderous Baroque organ music.
A new recording of a work as often recorded as the Concerto for Orchestra should offer something unusual, as well, and this disc does. Kossuth, a 20-minute symphonic poem, was the 22-year-old composer's first major orchestral composition. The conception owes much to Richard Strauss and the style to Liszt, but there are plenty of hints of material that show up in his mature works. The Village Scenes is a particularly exciting choral-orchestral expansion of a work originally for voices and piano, and the Concerto of course, is enormously popular.
The very special mixture of virtuosity and melancholy, so characteristic for the British way of making music, is clearly dominated by composers like John Dowland or Britten, Henry Purcell or the Beatles. So, by arranging the tunes written by Jimmy Page for Led Zeppelin (acoustic works, with strong celtic roots), the duo didn't notice any substantial difference between Page and the ancients, and the result is that these pieces too are fitting perfectly the iconic instruments of the Irish/Scottish/English/Welsh tradition: the lute and the harp.
John Eliot Gardiner is one of the leading conductors in the active authentic performances movement in England, performing Baroque music but also extending his range into later repertoire. He first conducted at the age of 15, and after finishing school he studied at King's College, Cambridge. While still an undergraduate, he conducted the combined Oxford and Cambridge Singers on a 1964 tour of the Middle East and founded the Monteverdi Choir, which has consistently performed on his recordings since.
In the "Zorba" ballet suite, Mikis Theodorakis uses almost exclusively well-known popular songs which he composed mainly in the 1960s. Some of them have been incorporated in the work as melodies, some of them as vocal pieces. It took twenty years before the composer became his normal self again; he first had to experience the disillusionment at the end of the 1970s concerning the social progress in Greece in order to be finally able to pick up the musical material, continue the compositional impetus of the 1950s and develop an appreciation for the genre of the opera in the mid-eighties which suits his composer's mentality both as a melodist and as a symphonic composer very well.