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Raimundo Rodulfo’s The Dreams Concerto

Raimundo Rodulfo's The Dreams ConcertoFirst impressions can have a lasting effect.  Sometimes when I listen to an album for the first time it can be like a good book in that I don’t want it to end.  Some albums require a number of listens to fully appreciate, but The Dreams Concerto is an instant hit.  At least it is for me.

If it was possible to combine the talents of some great musicians/composers such as Bach, Mozart, Ian Anderson, Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Rick Wakeman (to name but a few) at the height of their creativity and produce a piece of music, then Venezuelan musician Raimundo Rodulfo’s The Dreams Concerto would probably be the result.

A blend of classical and modern encompassing a lot of prog and a little jazz and folk, The Dreams Concerto is in three movements.  The first movement, which runs at a little over 28 minutes, starts in chamber orchestra mode leading into a delicate acoustic guitar with female vocal piece before rocketing into a full blown prog epic along the lines of Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play in feel with element of Hacketty guitar, Mel Collins sax and plenty more besides.  Finishing with a short coda, the first movement just flies by.  Pure brilliance!

The second movement, the shortest at just under 17 minutes, is very YES/Steve Howe in style leading into fusion merging YES with King Crimson with Gong and probably a lot more besides.  Ingenious must be Raimundo’s middle name.  Yet he manages to incorporate a short baroque rock style theme that appeared in the first movement towards the end of the first half of this movement.  The latter half of this movement introduces a Celtic rock style with ELP.  There are constant time changes throughout this movement and Raimundo goes to great lengths to explain the mathematics behind it all using complex equations (well they are complex to me particularly as they are in Spanish) in the accompanying CD booklet that runs to many pages.

The third movement (33 minutes) starts with a combination of Spanish guitar and chamber orchestra, which has a very upmarket classical feel about it.  A very reflective piece.  The second part of this movement awakes with the chamber orchestra and guitar apace like something Gryphon or Sky may have thought up.  Combinations of male and female vocals join in with good effect.  The orchestration, which was prominent in the mix, suddenly seams to disappear for a period to allow the rock side of the arrangement to feature with guitar sound changing from that of Andy Latimer to Steve Hackett and then to Roine Stolt.  The end of the movement revives the chamber orchestra with strains of Enid sounding guitar.

Whilst all three movements appear quite different, the theme from the first is evident in the last and for a short period touches on the second.  Whilst the vocals are in Spanish, they are sung so sweetly that a non Spanish-speaking listener would find them of no distraction from this mainly instrumental work.  The lyrics are printed in the CD booklet (again in Spanish) are about dreams, their power and the freedom they provide.  The booklet also provides comprehensive information about the individual musicians that perform on the album (in both English and Spanish).  Instead of a standard jewel case, the CD is contained inside the front cover of the booklet which in turn slides into a CD size cardboard container, all of which are covered with the wonderful artwork of Peter Rodulfo, a distant relative who now resides in England (check out his work via a link on Raimundo’s website below).

When I spoke with Rick Wakeman he commented on the quality of music that was emanating from South America. Well, The Dreams Concerto must be at the top of the league.  The combination of classical and progressive rock is seamless and should appeal to fans of either genre.  This is nothing like a contrived ‘Royal Philharmonic Play The Music Of (insert prog band name here)’, nor is it an orchestra playing prog rock or a prog rock band playing classical – each instrument is allowed to play in its own style and consequently makes up the whole.

There are so many different style of prog it is impossible to say that this is ‘the prog album of 2002’. However, this must be the prog album of the year in its class especially as it is unique.  In years to come, I’ve no doubt that the name Rodulfo will be up there with the other great composers and I mean great composers!

Jem Jedrzejewski

(Thanks to Louise Jedrzejewski for the translation of the lyrics)


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