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Neo-Classical Yngwie. - 95%

hells_unicorn, February 5th, 2007

In the course of every artist’s career there is a particular time where he/she must truly test their own will to create. For the musician and composer, this would suggest a sort of magnum opus, usually taking the form of a massive orchestral score clocking in at as long as an hour or more in length. For the genre of heavy metal, the concept of marrying the electric guitar with orchestral sounds is not unheard of, but a single metal impresario taking the helm in the stead of a first violinist is something quite unique.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s masterwork is essentially a hybrid work containing a song collection resembling the original dance suite structure used by Baroque and Classical composers for solo instruments, but also containing the instrumentation and melodic dialogues common to the concerto form of the High Classical and Romantic eras. One not educated in the history of pre-20th century music is sure to deduce that the resulting string of instrumental movements are nothing more than Yngwie shredding up a storm with an orchestra merely accompanying him, but one who samples the longer works by the various composers that influenced Malmsteen (particularly Paganini) wrote things for their respective instruments of choice in a similar fashion.

Out of the music found on this performance, some particular movements shine more than others due to strong melodic material. The opening movement of the suite “Icarus Dream Fanfare” contains the unforgettable melody line from the work found on the Rising Force debut carrying the same name, and is performed flawlessly. “Cavallino Ramparte” and “Fugue” also shine due to catchy melodic material, the former containing a galloping rhythmic build reminiscent of a cavalry charge, the latter containing the usual melodic interplay found in the Fugue format. “Prelude for April” and “Sarabande” showcases Yngwie’s ability to create a simple melody on the acoustic guitar and still tear it up when called for.

The music outside of the concerto suite that was rearranged for this performance is also quite a treat and is the principle advantage to owning this performance in addition to the original CD recording, other than Yngwie’s animated stage presence, which is a bit subdued compared to his regular concerts. “Black Star” is done only by the orchestra and when one observes the relative ease with which the violinists handle the melody, it is clear that Yngwie’s work is idiomatically fitting for this venue. The rendition of the “Trilogy Suite” is another high point, although one tends to miss the rapid double bass drum work that is present on the metal arrangement.

Although Yngwie is most likely more proud of this compositional feat than anything else that he’s done thus far, most of his fans would be well advised to approach this release with a different perspective than what is normally required for one of his releases. Other than Yngwie’s blazing solo sections with his electric guitar, this is not a metal album, but a tribute paid by an artist to one of his principle influences upon his own work. Much as when he plays covers of Jimi Hendrix or Deep Purple, his other principle inspirations, he is only giving you part of what drives him to create, unlike his original studio works which include all influences as one.

This album is recommended both to fans of Yngwie as well as fans of late Baroque to early Romantic era music by the likes of C.P.E. Bach and Tchaikovsky. It doesn’t really qualify as a metal release, but it represents one of the core building blocks of metal that makes it distinct from the punk/classic rock outfits that populate the radio waves. It is Yngwie’s own personal quest for greatness realized in a live medium, an area where he has always excelled.