Sometime ago, I read a book in which a rock critic defined Keith Emerson that way: "He is a musician who approaches the classics with all the reverence and subtlety of a pain-maddened rhino with hemorrhoids". That was the way an artist who made out-of-the ordinary and innovative versions of classical music was treated. Well, this time, Japanese bands Ars Nova and Gerard can be described just like Emerson. It DOESNT mean at all that the works written by Rick Wakeman, ELP, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Il Balleto Di Bronzo, Trace and Banco, and recorded this time by these two bands from the Land of the Rising Sun, have been mistreated. On the contrary, they have been successfully adapted to their hard and aggressive style. Is it valid to change the pieces? There might be various different opinions, but I personally think that a version of their own has more value than a simple copy. Adapting is far more difficult than reproducing.
On that case, I have to say that when I first heard the album, I didnt recognize Rick Wakemans "Catherine Parr" in the style of Gerard, but the groups impression of it is very good. It had never sounded that way: forceful and strong. And, what can I say about Ars Novas medley of "Tarkus" as a tribute to ELP? They are talented musicians! But this time I can criticize something: instead of whispering the melody in "Stones of Years" and "Battlefield", they could have sung them!!! A feminine voice would have given a different approach to the parts!
But, about the other songs, Il Balleto di Bronzos "Epilogo" never showed an impulsive side as it does on this recording. And if we talk about the way Gerard rearranged the works of PFM ("Four Holes in the Ground") and Banco ("La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta"), we can immediately notice a big contrast between the delicacy of the Italian classic sound and the strength of Japanese rock. Wow!!!!
Now, as a general evaluation, I can say that the whole album is full of intensity and energy and, because of that, it might sound a bit strange for those who are not used to the rapid, dynamic and powerful Japanese style. For those who are purists of the traditional symphonic rock, "Keyboards Triangle" may be irreverent, but for all fans of Japanese progressive rock it is an essential album. A must! And, well if you are not either a purist or a fan, it isnt 100% indispensable for a prog collection but it includes, indeed, some very interesting works that are worth being considered for a future purchase.