Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Playing the History

Regular readers of this blog will note my particular love of the Progressive genre of rock music. One of the things that stands out for me in this genre is the way in which Progressive music draws on classical music for its structures, forms and ideas, and this was illustrated well last night at a performance of 'Playing the History', a project by John Hackett, Marco Lo Muscio & Carlo Matteucci, in Wesley Hall Crookes in Sheffield. With John on flute, Marco on organ & piano & Carlo on bass and guitar, they entertained a small but appreciative audience with their interpretations of some classic progressive works.

In the liner notes to the CD of the project - which is officially launched on July 1 in Rome - the three artists say that 'the core of our idea is to give a place of honour to progressive rock music on the same level as the works of the great classical composers', and in order to achieve this they have produced fresh instrumental interpretations, without vocals or drums, of a number of progressive pieces.

The arrangements are based around flute, bass guitar and organ or piano, with the addition (on the CD) of further guitars from Giorgio Gabriel & Steve Hackett  and saxophone from David Jackson, and feature works by ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd, Anthony Phillips, Rick Wakeman & Steve Hackett, as well as original material by John & Marco. The sound is lyrical and haunting in places: Marco's arrangement of Steve Hackett's 'Horizons, from Genesis's 'Foxtrot' album, for piano and flute particularly stands out, as does the re-working of King Crimson's 'I Talk to the Wind', and one of the new pieces - 'Bilbo's Dream' (come on, it wouldn't be real prog without some Tolkien references!) is, I hope, destined to become a classic. Indeed, John Hackett writes in the liner notes: "With Bilbo's Dream Marco Lo Muscio has written a masterpiece - it deserves to be heard in concert halls throughout the world alongside the few really good pieces for solo flute such as the JS & CPE Bach A minor sonatas and Debussey's Syrinx."

A great collection, and a fine piece of music. You can order a copy from John's website -, where you can find details of further concert performances.