Looking at the music of Dutch rock band Focus, started in the late sixties by Thijs Van Leer (b /31/03/48) with Jan Akkerman (b 24/12/46). Van Leer still performs and records under the name today (official site here). Akkerman's site here.




Track by track 44a Hamburger Concerto Part 1 (Starter)

Archive number: 44a
Title: Hamburger Concerto (Part 1 Starter)
Main Album: Hamburger Concerto
Track number: 5a Genre: Progressive Rock Instrumental (Symphonic)
Studio: Olympic Studios 'B', 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9HL
Length: 1' 59” (20' 15” the whole)
Composer: Thijs van Leer (Based on Brahms/Haydn)
Musicians: Jan Akkerman – Electric Guitars (Fenders), Timpani; Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, Piano, ARP Synthesiser; Bert Ruiter - Bass; Colin Allen – Drums, Timpani
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Bob Hall
Label: Polydor, Atco, EMI, Red Bullet, JVC, JVC Victor Date of recording/release: January/March 1974; April 1974. CD – 1998, 2001, 2001, 2002, 2006
Alternative version: Van Leer first made use of the Haydn piece back in the Ramses Shaffy days. It can be heard twice on the album Sunset Sunkiss.
Notes: The opening part draws on the St Anthony Chorale by Haydn later taken up by Brahms who wrote variations on it. We begin with the organ, backed by the guitar acting as a drone and with a timpani roll (00:00-00:14). This leads into a statement of the Haydn theme by 'violined' guitar, backed by a meandering bass (00:15-00:29). The timpani come in again along with a jangling piano (00:30-00:36) before reverting to the guitar and bass alone with the organ in the background and distant timpani (00:37-00:55). The synthesiser then leads (from 00:56). A cymbal is tapped (01:01) and the synthesiser part is repeated, then a guitar with an effect pedal on (used often in the piece) comes in too. At 01:21 the guitar leads the band for the first dramatic statement of Akkerman's main 13-note riff, which is played twice. Next we revert to the earlier theme on 'violined' guitar and bass, first with jangling piano then a drum roll (01:34-01:46) and the riff is again played twice.
Note on Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn (from Wikipedia):
Consisting of a theme in B-flat major, eight variations and a finale, it was composed in summer 1873 by Johannes Brahms and published in two versions: variations for two pianos, written first (Op 56b) and the same piece for orchestra (Op 56a). The piece is usually about 18 minutes in length. The first performance of the orchestral version was given November 2, 1873 by the Vienna Philharmonic under Brahms's baton.
Origin of the theme Recent scholarship has revealed that, despite the title of the work, the theme is very unlikely to be by Haydn. In 1870, Brahms's friend Carl Ferdinand Pohl, librarian for the Vienna Philharmonic, was working on a Haydn biography and showed Brahms a transcription he had made of a piece attributed to Haydn (Divertimento No 1). The second movement bore the heading St Anthony Chorale. While current usage still prefers the original title, Variations on the St Anthony Chorale is the name favoured by those who object to perpetuating a misattribution. Even that name, however, tells us very little. To date, no other mention of the so-called "St Anthony Chorale" has been found.
Form The theme begins with a repeated ten-measure passage which itself consists of two intriguing five-measure phrases, a quirk that is likely to have caught Brahms's attention. Almost without exception, the eight variations follow the phrasal structure of the theme and, though less strictly, the harmonic structure as well. Each has a distinctive character.

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