Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cătălin Tîrcolea - 1981 - Zboruri

Cătălin Tîrcolea 
1981 
Zboruri


01. Zboruri
02. Speranța
03. Latino
04. De-a Lung Și Joc
05. Pe Cinci
06. Balada
07. Exotica

Recorded between December 28th 1980 and June 6th 1981.

Bass – Iulian Vrabete
Drums, Percussion – Costin Petrescu
Panpipes, Percussion, Flute, Conductor [Formația Orchestrală Condusă De] – Cătălin Tîrcolea
Piano, Electric Piano – Mircea Tiberian
Strings, Synthesizer – Erwin Surin
Tenor Saxophone – Cristian Teodorescu
Trombone – Paul Pîrciu
Trumpet – Leopold Reisenhauer


Born in 1953, Catalin Tircolea began to study the violin at the age of 3 and had his first televised recital at 5 years, in 1958, playing Mozart. He continued to learn the violin at the High School, but gave it up in 1970 in behalf of a Romanian folk music instrument which fascinated him - the Pan-pipe, (Panflote, Flute de Pan) — his idea being to demonstrate its expressive possibilities in the spheres of symphonic, chamber and jazz music. A self-taught what concerns the technique of this instrument, he studied with tenacity, using piano and violin scores. In 1971 he participated at the folklore Festival in Koper (Yugoslavia), obtaining the 1st prize. During the next year, 1972, Catalin Tircolea toured Switzerland and Austria together with Benone Damian's band. Between 1973 and 1975 he had an engagement in Japan, playing a large repertoire : classic, folk, cafe-concert. In 1975 he began composition studies at the Bucharest "Ciprian Porumbescu" Conservatoire (with professors Gheorghe Dumitrescu, $tefan Niculescu, Liviu Rusu), finishing them in 1979 with the highest marks. In the meantime, in 1976, he took part, with his own band, at the Swiss folk music Festivals in Orbe and Lenzburg. Starting with 1978, Catalin Tircolea undertook a rich recording activity : for the Romanian "Electrecord" company, he played the solo part in Ramon Tavernier's LP entitled "Pan-pipe in Jazz", whereas in West Germany he recorded the LP "Fly with me" with the "Supermax" group, and afterwards, with the famous Dutch keyboard virtuoso, Rick van der Lynden the "Variations" album. In 1979, other two LPs, produced also in West Germany, were added to his discography : one of baroque, the other of folk music, both for Pan-pipe and organ. In 1981, again with "Electrecord", a new record followed, with Romanian folk music "hits", and in West Germany, at Dusseldorf, a digital recorded Pan-pipe and organ LP, with a repertoire reaching from musical classicism and romanticism up to impressionism. During the same year 1981, he took part at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland with the "WelI-tempered Pan-pipe", a colour production of the Romanian Television.
"Flights" this new LP, recorded between December 28th 1980 and June 6th 1981 in cooperation with a team of distinguished instrumentalists, selected from the elite of Romanian jazzmen and rock-musicians, especially with another young composer and pianist - Mircea Tiberian —, concentrates through its seven items a great stylistic variety, outlining especially jazz and jazz-rock. At the threshold of his artistic maturity, Catalin Tircolea - soloist of the Romanian "Electrecord" Company - asserts himself as a virtuoso, proving the unexpected technical possibilities of this singular and extremely difficult instrument. His demonstrations as principal soloist and conductor of the group, as well as a composer, are subordinated to an expressive aim: to use the refinement of the sonorous expression, conceived in subtle colour shades, in order to emphasize - in time and space — the fineness and the supreme elegance of the Flight.

Cătălin Tîrcolea - 1978 - Panpipe in Jazz

Cătălin Tîrcolea 
1978 
Panpipe in Jazz


01. Nu-ncerca Să Te Minți 5:08
02. Fără Vorbe 4:40
03. Non Stop 3:15
04. Mai Frumos Ca Orice Vis 3:22
05. De-or Trece Anii 3:32
06. Cîntec De Leagăn 3:22
07. Popas 3:07
08. Idealuri 2:58
09. Doină Și Joc 3:18
10. Lacul 2:53
11. Zig-Zag 3:54

Composed By, Orchestrated By, Conductor – Ramon Tavernier

Soloist, Panpipes – Cătălin Tircolea
Soloist, Voice – Elena Abagiu (tracks: A2, A4, B8, B10)
Vocals – Grupul vocal „5T“ (tracks: A2, A4, A5, B8, B10, B11)


Owing to his merits in scoring, harmonizing, becoming fully acquainted with various styles and mastering them, from the classical to the contemporary light music and to his ability in creating musical "ideas", Ramon Tavernier is fully entitled to the complex definition implied by the designation of Jazz Composer, unlike a lot of other musicians all over the world, who do not truly tally with it, if one is thinking about the true meaning conveyed by that notion.
Nearly ail the Romanian Jazz LPs issued of late are most remarkable as concerns the density of their musical substance — or, in other words, as concerns the lack in them of the "redundancy" phenomenon, as the so-called "backdoor pieces" are fully missing from them. In this connexion, one can easily become aware that the present collection of recorded pieces is marked by extreme diversity, conspicuousness and richness in its sonorous-imagistic sphere.
Although the record comprises various sequences whose rhythmical vitality stands apart, It is wholly pervaded by an intensely lyrical climate, closely related to the Romanian ethos of the Doinas, of the folk Ballads — and all this specific character of the record is pointed out again, owing to the presence of the Panpipe, which is afforded the chief part. Moreover, Ramon Tavernier has got the merit of being the first composer to use the timbre of the Panpipe in the Jazz pieces; Un trifoi cu patru foi (A Four-Leaves Shamrock) and Samba bossanova pentru nai (Samba Bossanova for Panpipe) and other ones, written by the composer more than 10 years ago, i.e. in 1966 for Gheorghe Zamfir to play them (the composer was using then the pen name of Constantin Alexandru) stand as witnesses to that effect. The composer is resuming now, at another level of the musical thought, those experiments, this time the soloist being the young Panpipe player Catalin Tircolea. The Panpipe is accompanied, in Ramon Tavernier's conception, by a rather small band, made up of a "rhythmical section" — i.e. the electric piano or organ, the guitar, the bass-guitar, the drums, the percussion — and of a trumpet, a trombone, a tenor-saxophone (sometimes "doubled" through the "playback" device); in several instances this band is accompanied by the Vocal group* "5 T" (whose members sing without words, according to the so-called "scat" technique) and incidentally a group of strings is added to the band in order to increase the specific ."colour" of a piece, as, e.g. Cintec de leagan (Lullaby). Although the timbre "power" of the band seems rather modest at first sight, its sonorous "resultant" proves itself to be most remarkable as concerns its amplitude, for the few instruments and human voices, assembled according to several ingenious formulas of timbre mixture, are thus able to fill up a rather vast sonorous space.
An attempt at grouping according to a certain criterion or to another the pieces on this record is rather difficult, owing to their before-mentioned diversity, both in "language" and in "character". However, we shall try to classify them according to the criterion (rather formal, of course) of the tempo equivalences — i.e. in "slower" and "faster" pieces. Thus we shall begin by pointing out to the sonorous graphicalness, expressed by means of subtle irisations within various polychromies made up of sundry hues and shades, of several Ballads such as Fara vorbe (Without words), Mai frumos ca orice vis (Fairer than any dream), Cintec de leagan (Lullaby), Idealuri (Ideals), Lacul (The Lake); they rise above the usual stylistic expressive effective sphere of the Jazz, and make the record highly interesting also for other, wider categories of lovers of music.
A fully different group, as concerns the musical expression, would comprise the "virtuosity" pieces. Indeed there is virtuosity of the best kind, both in their composition and in their interpretation, both in the ensemble and in the solo moments; here one might quote: Non-stop, De-or trece anii (Would the years pass), Popas (Halt), Zig-zag.
Again fully different, bordering on the interference zone between Jazz and chamber music, and displayed on an expressive background of genuine Romanian vibration, the piece Doina si joc (Doina and Dance) is thus one of the most accomplished from the whole record. Nu-ncerca sa te minti (Don't try to deceive yourself), is a "remaking" under the Jazz-Rock frame, of a more ancient successful hit of the composer's.
Although the space afforded for these comments do not allow us a more detailed analysis of the interpretation, we ought to point out to the highly important contribution in this respect due to the Panpipe player Catalin Tircolea, who has now become indeed a fully recognized soloist-instrumentist; to the Feminine Vocal Group "5 T", that have indeed suceeded in getting a highly deserving place in our musical landscape; to the other instrumentists, whose solo moments are most valuable in their extempore aspects — Marius Popp, Mihai Chirilov, Nicolae Farcas, Radu Goldis, Dan Mindrila, Sorin Movi-leanu, Adrian Tudorache; they all, directed and conducted by Ramon Tavernier himself, are making up a musical and artistic "team" of the highest cohesion.
Instead of a "conclusion" we shall now come back to the creative essence of the music recorded here, in order to point out to the fact that it has indeed succeeded in outlining a composition "profile" whose conception is full mature and whose inspiration is highly vigorous. At the same time — and this is indeed a most gratifying conclusion — those acquainted with Ramon Tavernier's works are fully aware that he has got still a lot more "to say" in the going on development and display of the Romanian Jazz, in the efforts to compel recognition in general for the real and true valuable music, as this Romanian composer has opened indeed a new "gate" in this respect by using only his own forces as such!
FLORIAN LUNGU
English version by Constantin Stihi-Boos

Stern Combo Meissen - 1996 - Live

Stern Combo Meissen 
1996
Live 



01. Finlandia 13:53
02. Der Kampf Um Den Südpol 9:10
03. Wenn Ich Träume 5:29
04. Rhapsody In Blue 24:47
05. Happiness Is Just Around The Band 10:22

Recorded 16.07.1976 live at Kulturhaus "Fürstenwalder Hof" Fürstenwalde.

- Reinhard Fißler / lead vocals
- Bernd Fiedler / bass
- Norbert Jager / vocals, percussion
- Thomas Kurzhals / keyboards
- Lothar Kramer / keyboards, mellotron
- Martin Schreier / drums



Formed in 1964 in Meissen by drummer Martin Schreier and singer/keyboardist/percussionist Norbert Jager,STERN COMBO MEISSEN are maybe the eldest German classic Prog band still active today.Through a 10-year period they experimented through many styles of music,before establishing a keyboard-drenched sound in mid-70's with the addition of Thomas Kurzhals and Lothar Kramer on keys.By mid-70's the line-up included also singer Reinhard Fißler and drummer Bernd Fiedler.A performance of the band at Furstenwalder Hof in Furstenwalde was captured live in 1976 but never saw the light until 1996, when it was released on Edition Barbarossa.
The opening ''Finnlandia'' is among the best instrumental pieces recorded by a German band during the 70's, an adaption on the work of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.Grandiose organ-driven Classical/Symphonic Rock in the vein of EKSEPTION or TRIUMVIRAT with plenty of keyboard pyrotechnics and a fair dose of ethereal and smoother textures, played with passion and inspiration.In this album we find an early version of the classic psychedelic track ''Kampf um den Suedpol'', that became the band's landmark for years.The short ''Wenn ich traeume'' combines a more easy-going vocal-led style with spacey synthesizers and light organs.The very long ''Rhapsody in Blue'' is an amalgam of Stern Meissen's early sound, based on George Gershwin's eponymous work.It mixes inspirations from synth-drenched Fusion, powerful organ-driven Classical Rock and romantic Teutonic 70's Progressive Rock with some impressive work on synths, organ and piano, but some parts sound rather dull or dated, while the improvised ones are of marginal interest.Still this one is well-played with plenty of bombastic material.The closing track ''Happiness Is Just Around the Band'' is apparently a rework on Brian Auger's ''Happiness Is Just Around The Bend'', a nice, longer and majestic interpetation by the band with strong funky grooves and lovely organ as played by Auger, definitely a great cover.

A great document of Stern Combo Meissen's early years, prooving the band was on par with the best names from West Germany considering the prog scene of the country.Warmly recommended to all fans of keyboard-driven 70's Prog.

Stern Combo Meissen - 1980 - Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen

Stern Combo Meissen 
1980
Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen



01. Allein 3:42
02. Hinwendung 13:28
03. Romanze 8:42
04. Innenwelt 6:50
05. Menschenzeit 6:03

- Martin Schreier / leader
- Thomas Kurzhals / keyboards
- Reinhard Fißler / lead vocals
- Lothar Kramer / keyboards
- Peter Rasym / bass
- Michael Behm / drums


Apparently Stern (Combo) Meissen were on stage in the mid- to end-seventies an absolute legend in the GDR but had to struggle with censorship, so their published regular albums mostly didn't do them much justice, and after the "Reise" they turned their backs on prog and morphed into an at times hardly endurable pop group.
"Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen" is quite an exception to this. It's a very fine album, although it came in 1980 too late - too late for what is considered to be the best time of the band, but also even in their own country the tides of music changed and the audience wanted more direct and less complex music - unfortunately it got far more of the latter than the former.

The music on "Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen" is very keyboard-oriented. There's only keyboards (two keyboarders), bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are only there for a few minutes, but these few minutes demonstrate very well the quality of the vocalist, Reinhard Fissler, and his very characteristic expressive voice. Fissler adds some warmth to the overall rather cool musical landscape on this album. The instrumental performances are very strong. Of course the keyboard work plays the key role. The Stern are obviously fans of ELP, their sound is unsurprisingly somewhat behind the "western time", and one can criticise the GDR-icon Thomas Kurzhals and Wolfgang Kramer for using a bit too much of that influence. Another reference is the West German symphonic band SFF. That said, not only are the keyboards virtuous and technically flawless, they are also somewhat less showy than Emerson's (if somewhat less wild and unpredictable). One way in which the "Reise" has an edge over all ELP work (except perhaps "Pictures at an Exhibition") is that it is very organic; it's a concept album in which all the compositions serve the overall musical message. The composition work is clearly classically influenced. There's some dynamic in terms of speed and intensity on this album, some parts are very calm and melodic, others more powerful, but overall the sound is quite homogeneous. This is in contrast to all other works of the Stern, in which there are always some attempts at different styles, at times welcome but more often than not rather on the annoying side for a prog fan. The "Reise" though is pure prog. Overall, the compositions are a good tasteful mix of complexity and musicality and very well done, if a bit on the cool intellectual side (as easily happens with lots of keyboard and no guitar).

The drummer Michael Behm and the bass player Peter Rasym also deserve to be mentioned. Behm is virtuous and precise, but the secret star of the show is Rasym; the bass on this album is not only flawless but very creative and colourful, and at the same time fits seamlessly into the overall teamwork. Surely a five star performance by this internationally probably totally unknown bassist.

Despite the ELP references, this album stands easily on its own as a highlight of GDR art rock which has its very own atmosphere and characteristic; actually it is the strongest GDR prog album that I know by some distance; unfortunately the Stern themselves never came close before or after (I don't know their 1996 released 1976 live album, which may be a contender).

"Reise Zum Mittelpunkt Des Menschen" is one of the two SCM's concept albums (the other one is "Weisses Gold"). The music on both albums has a countinuous flow supported by leitmotivs. The longest track "Hinwendung" shows a lot of ELP instrumental bombast but in a more original manner than TRIUMVIRAT (it's closer to SFF). While I like the symphonic dual keyboard playing the sounds gets cold and plastic over time. "Weisses Gold" album sounds much warmer but "Reise Zum Mittelpunkt Des Menschen" is more complex, especially the gloomy "Romanze". This track shows band's compositional skills in extended tonality. In spite of the title don't expect any romantic sounds in this one. At the end of the track is also a short but remarkable piano solo. The vocals are used very sparsely on this album in difference with "Weisses Gold". To sum it up: "Reise" and "Weisses Gold" are the only worthwille SCM's albums you should get. Others are not on the same musical level as these two. I prefer "Weisses Gold" but it's a matter of taste. Both albums are recommended!

Stern Combo Meissen - 1979 - Der weite Weg

Stern Combo Meissen 
1979
Der weite Weg



01. Die Sage 7:50
02. Gib Mir, Was Du Geben Kannst 5:30
03. Was Bleibt 4:47
04. Der Motor 4:40
05. Der Frühling (Aus Dem Concerto Op. 8 "Die Vier Jahreszeiten") 12:20
06. Der Weite Weg 6:25

- Martin Schreier / leader
- Thomas Kurzhals / keyboards
- Norbert Jäger / percussion, vocals (4, 6)
- Reinhard Fißler / vocals (2, 6)
- Lothar Kramer / keyboards
- Werther Lohse / drums, vocals (1, 3)
- Bernd Fiedler / bass
- Michael Behm / drums, vocals


In my opinion excellent album. The title track, "Der weite Weg" is my favourite Stern Combo Meissen song. I heard it for the first time in 1982 and even now, 35 years after, when I listen to it - I'm not here, I'm far away in the sea (what is it - nostalgia or real quality of music?). "Der Frühling", the band's interpretation of Vivaldi's "The Spring" is a good example of delicate attitude to classical music. All other tracks are also worth to listen, only "Der Motor", a typical pop-rock song of that era, is weaker than other material. If you like melodic progressive with dual keyboards and nice soft vocals, this album is for you. I guess fans of Novalis will enjoy this album. But this band is not a Novalis clone - Stern Combo Meissen, at least in the 70s, had their own sound. Check "Der weite Weg" if you'll find it (it's not so easy outside former DDR).

Stern Combo Meissen - 1978 - Weisses Gold

Stern Combo Meissen 
1978 
Weisses Gold


01. Ouvertüre
02. Der Traum
03. Des Goldes Bann
04. Der Goldmacher
05. Die Flucht
06. Zweifel
07. Die Erkenntnis
08. Weisses Gold

Album concept based on: Johann Friedrich Böttger 1682-1719, alchemist and inventor, the creator of "white gold" circa 1709, the first white hard porcelain in Europe.

- Martin Schreier / leader
- Reinhard Fißler / lead vocals
- Norbert Jäger / percussion, vocals
- Lothar Kramer / keyboards, vocals
- Thomas Kurzhals / keyboards
- Werther Lohse / drums, vocals
- Bernd Fiedler / bass

Guests:
- Ernst Kahler / narration
- Sinfonieorchester der Hochscule für Musik ''Hanns Eisler' Berlin, leader - Horst Föster
- Chor des Wachregiments ''Feliks Dzierzynski'' Berlin


In June 1978 comes the first true studio recording of Stern Meissen and the second of their original releases overall.The band had recruited Lift's drummer Werther Lohse and completed a seven-piece line-up that led them to the ambitious ''Weisses gold'' album on Amiga.''Weisses gold'' refers to porcelain and this concept work deals with the timeline for discovering it in Dresden by German alchemist Johann Friedrich Boettger.The band was helped by the Symphonic Orchestra of ''Hochschule Für Musik Hanns Eisler" in Berlin and its conductor Horst Foerster.
Gone are all the psychedelic leftovers of Stern Meissen's previous recordings and the band headed now for a monster symphonic sound full of grandiose interludes, elaborate orchestrations and complex segments.''Weisses gold'' sounds much like a RICK WAKEMAN album, maybe crossed with a discreet Teutonic aura akin to NEUSHWANSTEIN, and appears to be a cohesive, flowing concept with extended instrumental themes, a slightly operatic mood and the typical German vocals displayed in Stern Meissen's works.The tracks are mainly keyboard-driven with full equipment (piano, harsichord, Hammond organ, synthesizers and propably string synth), supported by the ethereal orchestrations of the symphonic orchestra, the result is very good and at moments fascinating Progressive Rock with twin and triple keyboard workouts, creating grandiose climates and bombastic passages.German actor Ernst Kahler is the man behind the narrations, strongly connected with the history presented.As Stern Meissen were always a band with a nice sense of atmosphere and melody, the greatest part of the arrangements are characterized by dreamy textures and cinematic soundscapes, but be sure to handle the extremely virtuosic synth flashes during the process next to some E.L.P.-like fanfares on Hammond organ.

Very good story-telling album with dense, technically efficient and carefully composed keyboard themes.Fans of TRIUMVIRAT, E.L.P., LE ORME, RICK WAKEMAN and the likes will finds this work simply beautiful.Strongly recommended.

A goody for lush symphonic rock fans! SCM is one of the better symphonic prog bands from Germany. "Weisses Gold" is their pinnacle recorded with a choir and an orchestra. A concept album about the accidental discovery of white china is filled with delightful symphonic compositions and tasty keyboard work. Their style is similar to SFF (another good German band) with added vocals. Sometimes the arrangements get very complex with interesting harmony. They're very different from bands like TRIUMVIRAT that try too hard to copy English prog. BTW I like those bands but I don't find them so original. SCM blend classical influence with krautrock in a unique and sophisticated way. "Weisses Gold" is a classic!

Stern Combo Meissen - 1977 - Stern Combo Meissen

Stern Combo Meissen
1977 
Stern Combo Meissen



01. Der Kampf Um Den Südpol
02. Der Alte Auf Der Müllkippe
03. Mütter Gehn Fort Ohne Laut
04. Eine Nacht Auf Dem Kahlen Berge
05. Licht In Das Dunkel

Recorded live: 20/21-May-1977, Nünchritz/Riesa.

- Martin Schreier / drums, leader
- Reinhard Fißler / lead vocals (1, 3 - 5)
- Norbert Jäger / percussion, keyboards, vocals, lead vocals (2)
- Lothar Kramer / keyboards
- Thomas Kurzhals / keyboards
- Bernd Fiedler / bass


DDR rock band from Meißen/Saxony. They started as beat in the mid 1960's, absorbing western influences alongside developing their own style. As Stern Combo Meissen they reinvented themselves as the foremost progressive rock outfit from the German Democtratic Republic in the mid 1970's onto the early 1980's. 

 Stern Combo meissen's first LP is a gem of an LP in a field - East German Prog - not exactly bursting at the seams with masterpieces (unlike Italian Prog). But this great debut is worth checking out, blending Hawkwind-lie space-rock with prog dynamics. On "Der Kampf um den Sudpol" the first side opens with atmospheric wind effects until an icy Rick Wright-type organs starts snaking out of the ether in a sublime Eastern modality, while synths fizzle and fart in the background, oscillating their way into the stratosphere. SCM sing in German, which also sets them apart from a lot of german bands (Eloy, Jane), but I think in the end this is better as the German vocal inflection often struggles around English language lyrics (see Grobschnitt's "RockPommels Land"). Stern Combo Meissen's LP's suffer from a bad vinyl pressing like many Eastern European rock LP's but the energy of their arrangements overcomes this one minor quibble. "Eine nacht auf dem Kahlen Berge" opens Side Two with some great keyboard work - its the keyboards that really shine on this LP as the six-man line-up boasts three keyboardists!! Thomas Kurzhals moog work is first rate, reminding me of the style of SBB from Poland. LP closer "Licht in das Dunkel" finishes in style with a great extended Yes-like dynamic, lots of moog-riffs and great swathes of string backing on organ and string-synth (although the sleeves dont' discern - it sounds like SCM use Solina string synths rather than Mellotron's giving them a Tangerine Dream like texture). Overall, a charming little addition to the German Prog collection - a band with a very varied sound taking in influences from Wish You Were Here-era Floyd, ELP, Hawkwind and Yes. A great mix of space-rock and prog and a keyboard players dream.

In 1977 it was time for the first official release of Stern Combo Meissen.Their classic track ''Der Kampf um den Südpol'', already presented live by the group, started hitting the charts and remains actually a hit until today.Surprisingly the official debut of the band was another live recording, carrying the band's name as a title and released on Amiga in 1977.
Not the average keyboard-driven band,Stern Combo Meissen mix in their debut lots of different styles,remaining a band with a wide sound spectrum as in their early years.''Der Kampf um den Südpol'' sounds sort of psychedelic rock with nice organ and is led by the vocals of Reinhard Fißler,while on ''Der Alte auf der Müllkippe'' the funky rhythm section blends with the spacey moog synths of the keyboard duo.''Mütter gehn fort ohne Laut'' is the first track where the band shows of their symphonic tendencies with mellow classical-influenced synths and organs leading the way.''Eine Nacht af dem Kahlen Berge'' is nothing else than Stern Combo Meissen's adaption on the classic Mussorgsky piece ''Night on the Bald Mountain''.A 13 minute track,where the band capture all of the classic piece's dramatic atmosphere through the fiery organ and the closing section full of moog sounds and deep bass lines.''Licht das Dunkel'' closes the album in a rather soft way with hypnotic bass lines around moog solos and dreamy vocals,while its ending sounds like a familiar complex ELP jam.

Stern Combo Meissen were among the daring bands in DDR (East Germany) to produce some highly sophisticated music.Their debut is a nice delivery of classical-influenced prog rock and deserves a wider recognition!

Electra - 1979 - Electra 3

Electra 
1979 
Electra 3


01. Alter, Alter, Dankeschön (4:15)
02. Frau im Spiegelglas (3:10)
03. Gott Morpheus (4:10)
04. Einmal ich, einmal du, einmal er (3:25)
05. Beschreibung eines Zimmers (5:10)
06. Tritt ein in den Dom (10:10)
07. Der grüne Esel (3:50)
08. Manchmal (6:47)


- Bernd Aust / sax, flute, synths, vocals
- Gisbert Koreng / guitars, vocals
- Peter Ludewig / drums, percussion, vocals
- Wolfgang Riedel / bass, vocals
- Manuel von Senden / vocals, keyboards, percussion
- Rainer Uebel / keyboards, percussion, vocals

With:
- Stefan Trepte / vocals


During 1975-79 and heading to their next album Electra kept the basic core and added a sixth member,  Manuel von Senden on keyboards and vocals, so ''3'' was expected to be their richest album to this date.Part of the Classical/progressive influences has been abandoned for the sake of a more rhythmic sound in the -so called- Deutschrock tradition, which wants the music to be vocal-dominated with powerful electric guitars and standard song structures with careful solos and groovy passages.But what these guys did actually was to filter their progressive spirit into the simplistic Rock mode, so the tracks contain lots of impressive organ and synth moves, pompous intrumental themes, hard guitar/keyboard interplays, even some Classical-spiced flute and grandiose multi-vocal harmonies.An interesting work, filled with memorable moments, which still maintain a proggy depth.

The third Electra album is a mix of some new material and archival stuff, and as such is all over the map. High points are the epics “Tritt ein in den Dom*” and “Manchmal.” There’s also more typical East Euro rock on “Alter, alter, dankeschön” and “Gott Morpheus” and a wacky, Grobschnitt-like take on a classic fairytale on “Der grüne Esel,” plus a couple of very typically East German sounding ballads (“Frau im Spiegelglas” and “Einmal ich, einmal du, einmal er”). Low point: their laughable stab at hard rock on “Beschreibung eines Zimmers,” complete with irritating, shrieky, Uriah Heep-like backing vocals.

*“Tritt ein in den Dom” (Enter the Cathedral) seems to be the oldest recording here, and features their original lead singer Stephan Trepte, at the time with his own band, Reform.

Electra - 1980 - Die Sixtinische Madonna

Electra 
1980 
Die Sixtinische Madonna


01. Die sixtinische Madonna: Der Maler (11:01)
02. Die sixtinische Madonna: Das Bild (7:11)
03. Die sixtinische Madonna: Der Betrachter (7:38)
04. Scheidungstag (6:35)
05. Jahrmarkt (3:18)
06. Erinnerung (4:20)

- Bernd Aust / sax, flute, cello, vocals
- Manuel von Senden / synths, vocals
- Rainer Uebel / keyboards
- Gisbert Koreng / guitars
- Peter Ludewig / drums
- Wolfgang Reidel / bass


The 26-minute title suite (essentially a dissertation rationalizing why a Communist country should house an explicitly religious art artifact like Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, which was housed in an art museum in Dresden) was performed live at a youth festival in 1979. It’s a bombastic, Rick Wakeman-ish work, complete with choir and tons of synthesizers. That said, it’s a high point of their career, singer Manuel von Senden (nowadays living in Austria and working as an opera singer!) was never finer. Let down a bit on the B-side, though the ballad “Errinerung” is certainly lovely. The original Amiga Masters CD issue had as a bonus track “Über Feuer,” an old track from the Hallo-series days (and featuring original vocalist Stephan Trepte, then with Reform) with an explicit Jethro Tull fixation.

after I have heard "Die Sixtinische Madonna" which is their fourt studio album I am overwhelmed. This is a fnatastic example of how startling a prog composition could be.

I would compare the composition "Die Sixtinische Madonna" which other bands which have been inspired by classical music such as the Spanich "Los Canarios" or Italian "Premiata Forneria Marconi". Electra is a rock band which sounds like an orchestra and plays their rock music which excellent classical music in it. The main part of the album is the three-part track "Die Sixtinische Madonna" and that is the main reason to hear this album. In the start it reminds me of PFM's "L'Isola di Niente" and further they play only their own style of music. A rock opera with inspiration of symphonies, medieval music and rock of course. Sometimes we hear classical renaissance choir music but mostly we hear the magical strong German vocals of Bernd Aust and Manuel von Senden. Unfortunately my example of the record has quite bad sound, but it didn't obstruct me from enjoy it fully. The long piece by itself makes this a masterpiece

"Scheindungstag" and "Jahrmarkt" are more typical German rock songs with a strong vibrant vocal and fine melodies and finally "Erinnerung" is a lovely closer with an honest melody and sweet vocals. If anyone has the opportunety to hear Electra's fourth they should because the world earns the right to hear it. The title track, if the sound quality is reasonable, is in the world class of prog. Not many prog bands come from German Democratic Republic but some do and I am glad I listened to this. 

Electra - 1976 - Adaptionen

Electra 
1976 
Adaptionen


01. Borodin-Suite (13:20)
02. Bach '75 (6:25)
03. Säbeltanz (6:05)
04. Prelude cis-moll op3. Nr.2 (4:40)
05. In der Halle des Bergkönigs (3:05)
06. Türkischer Marsch (3:53)

- Bernd Aust / flute, sax
- Gisbert Koreng / guitars
- Peter Ludewig / drums
- Wolfgang Riedel / bass
- Rainer Uebel / synth, Hammond


1975 sees Electra-Combo changing their name simply to Electra, changing also their style and having some important line-up shakes.The band was heading towards an instrumental sound, so singer Stephan Trepte left to join the newly established Reform along with ex-Electra-Combo bassist Michael Demnitz.Gone were also Hans Peter Dohanetz and Peter Sandkaulen.They were replaced by new keyboardist Rainer Uebel and guitarist Gisbert Koreng.The same year the group releases their first album as Electra under the title ''Adaptionen'', again on Amiga.
As the title indicates, in this album the East-Germans take six classical arrangements and transformed them into rock compositions, drawn by some of the most important Classical composers: Alexander Borodin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Aram Chatschaturjan, Sergej Rachmaninov, Edvard Grieg, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.Electra use their music as the basis of their compositions and add their own character through strong organ jams and hard-driving flutes, among them the listener can find tons of sudden breaks and virtuosic solos, particularly led by Aust'es flute and Uebel's organ.The sound is very close to the likes of E.L.P., considering the heavy use of Hammond organ, although the strong and massive flute parts bring to mind bands such as OSANNA or NEW TROLLS.Today the album sounds a bit dated, the chosen style being the main reason for the fact, on the other hand the music here is tremendously consistent and solid all the way.The powerful electric guitars of Koreng add a Hard Prog flavor to the album, the Classical-inspired passages are adapted in an excellent deegree and the original touches next to them fit brilliant with the masters' Classical enviroment.

Electra - 1974 - Electra Combo

Electra 
1974
Electra Combo


01. Der Hahn mit dem roten Kamm (3:48)
02. Die Erde is 'ne Kugel (4:24)
03. Die Kraniche fliegen im Keil (4:41)
04. Einen kleinen Tag lang (6:31)
05. Feuer (3:49)
06. Das kommt, weil deine Seele brennt (2:16)
07. Augen, von der Liebe verlassen (3:33)
08. Tut mir leid (2:53)
09. Grosse Fenster (5:50)

- Bernd Aust / sax, flute, keyboards
- Peter Ludewig / drums, vocals
- Hans-Peter Dohanetz / keyboards
- Stephan Trepte / vocals
- Peter Sandkaulen / guitars
- Wolfgang Riedel / bass


German band ELECTRA was formed in 1969 by 5 students from the Dresden School of Music in what was then the eastern part of the divided Germany. They made a name for themselves by reinterpretating classical symphonic music using contemporary, electronic instruments as well as producing original compositions of elongated, progressive rock with a firm emphasis on elongated instrumental solos. They made their debut as Electra-Combo in 1974 with the album Electra Combo.

From 1975 and onwards they decided to stick with the shorter Electra band name. A string of critically acclaimed productions followed in the next few years, but in the 1980's the creative spirits of the band appeared to dwindle. Possibly due to the not too friendly politicial climate that developed in Eastern Germany in the final years before the iron curtain became history, perhaps due to line-up alterations or a general change of direction for the band. 

But following the fall of the iron curtain, Germany reuniting as one nation and old members returning to the band they rediscovered their creative and artistic roots again. So far not documented on a studio album however, as their latest studio effort was recorded as far back as 1989 in the shape of Der Aufrechte Gang (although not released until 2004). But Electra has continued being a presence on stage over the years and are still a popular and active live unit as of 2012.

 One of the long-lived acts from East Germany, Electra came from Dresden and were found in 1969 by wind instrumentalist Bernd Aust, bassist Wolfgang Riedel, guitarist Ekkehard Berger, drummer/singer Peter Ludewig and keyboardist Karl-Heinz Ringel.The band had a good live activity and by the time of their first album Ringel and Berger were replaced by singer Stephan Trepte, Hans Peter Dohanetz on keys and Peter Sandkaulen on guitars.As with many East German bands their debut ''Electra-Combo'' (1974) was released on Amiga.
Reputedly Electra had a very daring progressive sound, but the social conservation of DDR prevent the band of recording a trully adventurous album, while they even supported pop artists around the same time.So their debut was actually an incoherent mix of different styles with plenty of rough vocals, a raw guitar sound, somewhat dated organ work and a fair amount of flutes.Their style is quite close to that of JETHRO TULL's, filled with flute drives and solos, deeped in Blues and Heavy Rock aesthetics but in a rather commercial vein with simple song structures, only interrupted by some nice guitar, organ and flute solos.The grooves though are a bit interesting with the band breathing a hell of energy, guitars are really dominant supported by jazzy organs and a pounding rhythm section, while the talent of the members is evident, even in this commercial outfit.However the lack of trully adventurous musicianship, the somewhat dull vocals, the sometimes laughable lyrics (for those who understand German) and a couple of weak straight Blues tracks prevent the album of being an essential effort.

Classic commercial Deutsch Rock with a few interesting instrumental moments in each track, not a great album by any means but definitely a historical document of the age.