Sound — 10
This album would technically be the first album with the second lineup of Deep Purple, the most commonly known one with the replacement of vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper, the first studio album with this group would be "In Rock" released within a few months after this album which came out barely before 1970 as far as the US release goes and was recorded in late September 1969. The sound change as far as the group's performance is quite noticeable with new bassist Roger Glover helping to steer the group in a heavier direction with his hard bass riffs and Ian Gillian with his raucous screaming which would help pave the way for heavy metal.
Not a whole lot of people actually know about this album or give as much credit as is deserved, and you have to be able to appreciate classical orchestral music with a more mature taste to comprehend this with an open minded spirit and appreciation for classic hard rock and also orchestral fusion. Jon Lord is the key behind the whole masterpiece and arranged most of the works along with Ritchie Blackmore's already heavily classical leanings and fusions of these baroque type styles with grinding hard rock solos, this is the first time rock had ever been combined with a complete orchestra. Deep Purple's "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold.
Lyrics — 9
The main elements of concerto grosso, sinfonia concertante, and concerto for orchestra genres are skillfully blended to make a really vibrant album with all the different styles taking hold at different sections. This album really is another work of art that was so well formulated by a mastermind who was a bit under pressure, Jon Lord was only twenty-eight years old at the time and had no experience at all for writing for orchestra and had to do so within in three months with his prodigious imagination. For having been done so fast and still sounding quite meticulous, I would say the whole album is beyond impressive. The musicians in the band at the time were well trained enough musically to integrate themselves with a symphony orchestra and the orchestral musicians are broad minded and willing enough with enthusiasm to bring this monumental album into existence; they were more than capable of pulling this off.
"Concerto" the song is a three movement composition. The movements are "Moderato-Allegro" (16:20), "Andante" (19:34), and "Vivace-Presto" (10:48). As a young man, I do not know much about classical music, but when listening to "Concerto for Group and Orchestra," I always gravitated towards the final segment. In listening to it for a while, I retain that preference, but that is probably just because it is so exciting. The only way to listen to the disc is straight through though, as the various themes come back in unique ways over the course of the composition. The album really blossoms with the inclination of a somewhat downcast album but it brightens up again and goes into this epic overture. "Second Movement (Adante)" really lets Ian Gillian blossom as a young singer really voicing himself for the first time with a ringing and more soft-spoken mood, Gillian's voice at it's fullest potential beauty the group integrates with the orchestra while vividly above the textural composition of the orchestra in a sinfonia concertante style. "Concerto for Group and Orchestra - First Movement: Moderato-Allegro" is where Ritchie Blackmore shines with an unbelievable solo in a robust analogue splendor definitely one of the most important sections of the album showing the young acumen of Ritchie Blackmore who is easily one of the greatest virtuosos that ever lived. "Third movement (Vivace - Presto)" is where Ian Paice can really submits a tremendous amount of excursion in one of the greatest drum solos ever, this part breaks down the barriers so their is no distinction between the group and orchestra. One thing that remained a constant in his music was the sound of Jon Lord's playing. His is about the only keyboard playing I have ever heard that can sound as mean (or meaner) than a guitar. His style was uniquely his own, and no matter what he was playing, you knew it was him on the Hammond B-3. This quality is shown to great effect throughout this performance.
Overall Impression — 10
This wasn't too common during the time as far as rock merging with orchestral music as I mentioned but the Moody Blues had already released their prog rock gem "Days of Future Passed" in 1967 which brings whole movements and combinations of string to their long-winded and beautiful songs, this is more of a separation of the two with hard rock moments, less progressive I would say but Jon really showed that he really knew what he was doing and wrote the piece with real depth and clarity. It isn't at at all bad, and their is enough time for both the band and the orchestra to shine throughout and a great section of rock songs including the first official recording of "Child in Time." It works, and I'm surprised to hear myself saying that. This is, of course, an example of what is now known as "crossover," the blending or combining of two different forms, styles or genres. This is what crossover sounds like when it stems purely from an aesthetic urge: let's see what we can do. Frankly, I don't see a darned thing wrong with it and I always love listening to it every now and then. This is the first album I would take to a deserted island, enough said.