The progressive rock band Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) is considered rightly to be the premier band of it’s kind from Italy. They’ve released more than 15 studio albums and almost as many live recordings since 1972, and maintain their place as one of the finest and most prolific artists in the genre.
Last year they recorded a double album which some fans of the prog rock form many have missed – the wonderful PFM In Classic – Da Mozart A Celebration. The main CD is a collection of seven works by Mozart re-imagined with symphony and rock instrumentation combined. Patrick Djivas (bass) explained their approach to linking the two forms in a recent interview – “We wanted to do something totally different [with this recording] – we thought, what if Mozart had guitar, bass, and drums – what would he have added to his compositions?”
The result is a compelling mix of rock and classical motifs played side by side – at times alternating and at others intertwined – ending up being bolder and more rewarding than the typical rock+symphony excursion. Any fan of Mozart’s work, or the prog rock form will find much to enjoy in this release. Highlights include the grand overture to “Il Flauto Magico,” with Patrick’s opening bass lines dancing about the main theme – the expressive, precise guitar solo played by Franco Mussida that drives “Danza Slava No 1” – or their playful take on the theme to Romeo and Juliet which ends in a crescendo of drums from Franz Di Cioccio.
The second CD contains some of PFM’s own compositions performed in the same manner – some with extended symphonic interpretations within the original work. Of these, “La Luna Nuova” and “Impressioni Di Settembre” are the most interesting in this format, whereas a couple of the early tracks were so representative of symphonic rock as to be just as good in their original format. For a stunning finish the band rip through versions of “Celebration” along with a bit of Mendelssohn for good measure, followed by a live recording of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.” A perfect way to end this set, as both tracks are played assertively, precisely, and joyfully – a loveable trait of this seminal band.