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Hermes Ensemble's Pink Floyd Project reviewed Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Saturday, 11 September 2004

We recently reported on the intriguing sounding Pink Floyd Project, being performed at the Klara Festival in Brussels, Belgium, on September 9th. With much thanks to Charles over at FloydStuff.com, we have this review of the event for you. You can also listen to the evening's performances through this Real Audio stream, as a 32K Windows Media file stream here, or as a 96K Windows Media file stream here. Apart from the beginning, which uses a collage of Pink Floyd music, the Hermes Ensemble's PF tracks kick off around an hour and a quarter through the stream, which lasts for three hours in total.

Pink Floyd Project - September 9th 2004
Although it has been seen as a highlight in Floyd's history, Atom Heart Mother was hardly touched by any kind of band or orchestra, simply because it's so complex to perform. When the news was spread that the piece was to be performed in its entirity during a special night of the Klara Festival in Brussels, Belgium, I was assured this was something to be checked out. The good news was also that this would not be a cheapo cheapo 'night of the proms' styled philharmonic orchestra but by an adventurous set of musicians called the Hermes Ensemble.

On arrival at the venue, the first thing that stood up in the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts was the giant 30 foot wide projection screen which was filled with vj'ed images of the audience as it entered the hall.

At around 20 minutes to 8 (the time at which the concert was to begin) a really clever collage of Floydian tunes entered the hall through the speakers, combining well known sounds with excerpts from songs like Several Species. This intro outdid the 1994 World Tour intro tape by far!

At 8pm sharp the conductor Koen Kessels entered the stage along with a 5-piece horn section (2 trumpets, 3 trombones) and two pianists. They took off with a classical piece of Xenakis which sounded as if it could burst into Atom Heart Mother at any time - but didn't. A very clever adventurous tune which also saw musicians actually changing spots during the 30 minute performance. Next up was a WYWH styled improvisation with half a dozen musicians tuning radios on stage and around the venue.

After this, the rest of the Hermes Ensemble entered the stage including a cello, two basses, drum, percussion and three violins, plus the Collegium Vocal which consisted of 6 male and 6 female singers.

The 25 minutes that followed will be a milestone in my memory with what was a 24 karat performance of Atom Heart Mother - not an easy one where the details were left out but a surprisingly deep performance with many details to every aspect.

What struck me most was the importance of the vocals in the piece. With a little help from the DJ, who sneaked in a few original guitar lines from the piece. Now and then you visit a gig where a single song is worth the travelling alone. Fat Old Sun during Gilmour's Meltdown gig was such an occasion, and this was one too.

Following a stage performance of the cooking part of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, again superbly assisted by the DJ, the musicians set into a performance of A Saucerful Of Secrets which was quite experimental on the brass part. Although Saucerful did not impress as much as Atom Heart Mother, it was a beautiful rendition.

Before we realised, the gig was over after only 70 minutes in total. 70 minutes that proved that quality always wins over quantity, as many have forgotten in an era where concerts and discs are judged on their length. A night to remember. Did I mention the shivers down my spine?

Our thanks to Charles over at FloydStuff.com for this review. Check out his site for more pictures of the show...

 
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