Procol Harum was a band that could combine classical and rock music better than most any other band. “Grand Hotel” was Procol Harum’s first studio album without guitar virtuoso Robin Trower who left to pursue a solo career in 1972. Fortunately, Trower’s departure didn’t affect the band’s sound very much. Like their previous albums, “Grand Hotel” was an avant-garde blending of baroque era classical music with blues and rock.
Because of its unique combination of styles “Grand Hotel” is an album I can listen to almost any time, although I prefer it to be at times I can really focus on the interplay of all the musical elements and shifting rhythms and time signatures. Although not a concept album by definition, “Grand Hotel” is an album that should be listed to as a whole. As with most Procol Harum records, it is obvious that the goal when recording it was not so much to have a hit single as it was to album that is an intriguing listening experience.
I am not ashamed to admit that I know very little about classical music. All I know is I like classical music from the baroque era the best. I love its ornate complexities and its dramatic and emotional presentation.
I know that baroque was a turning point in classical music. It was an era where emotion and expression started to take more precedence than just form and structure. It was kind of like the rock and roll era of classical music. Maybe that’s why I like it.
Bach became the biggest ‘rock star’ (for lack of a better term) in baroque music; his music took on so many different moods but was always immediately recognizable. Vivaldi, Handel, and Pachelbel also gained significant fame and recognition throughout Europe in the 18th century. My son, who knows music theory much better than I ever will, tells me that the chord structure in Pachelbel’s Canon is used in many rock songs today. I had never thought of there being any connection between baroque and rock and roll before then. I just knew I liked both
A few decades after the baroque era, Mozart and Beethoven would also become ‘stars’ throughout Europe, ringing in what is known as the romantic era of classical music. I don’t know what musically differentiates the romantic era from the baroque; until recently I always considered Mozart and Beethoven to be baroque – but I guess they’re not. Then as gain, what do I know?