Barcelona - The Album.

This album is a unique combination of rock and opera. For that very reason, it appeals to a narrow audience. The opera purists hate it and the rock purists hate it. But if you one of the few who love both these forms of music then this could be the best CD in your collection. A remastered version is now available with the old rather naff synth music replaced by a really good orchestra and the results are nothing short of amazing. If you have the old version, replace it! The buttons on the left will show you the lyrics for each track.

So how did this remarkable album come about?

When Freddie Mercury was interviewed on Spanish television for the Spanish Arts programme 'Informe Semanal' in 1986 he announced that he was actually in Barcelona because he wanted to meet Montserrat Caballé. The message was heard and nine months later, in March 1987 Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé met at the Ritz Hotel in Barcelona for lunch. Freddie had flown in specially with composer/arranger Mike Moran and his manager Jim Beach. He had already recorded two songs which he had specially written for Montserrat Caballé. He played these songs to her over lunch and they immediately agreed to record an album together. The rest of the afternoon was spent with Freddie Mercury and Montserrat singing at the piano with Mike Moran in the garden room of the Ritz Hotel. That following Sunday Montserrat Caballé surprised her audience (including Freddie Mercury) by performing one of the songs 'Exercises in Free Love' as the final encore at her sold out recital in Covent Garden, London. Over dinner at Freddie's house in London after that recital, Montserrat Caballé asked him to write a song about her home town Barcelona. The resulting song 'Barcelona' was recorded in April 1987 and First performed at the Ku Club in Ibiza 29th May 1987 for inclusion as the finale for the worldwide TV show Ibiza 92'. The enormously emotional reception that the song received from the Spanish crowd spurred Freddie and Montserrat to push on with their project and 'Barcelona' has now fittingly become the title track for this unique album, and was the stunning theme of the Barcelona Olympics..

Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar. On moving back to England he eventually went to Ealing College of Art where he gained a diploma in graphic art. During those college years he met Brian May and Roger Taylor, eventually joining the group they had started - which was then completed by John Deacon. Freddie designed the now-famous Queen crest, an intertwining of the group member's star signs including his own Virgo, and Queen was born. As Queen's lead singer he has captivated audiences worldwide over the last 17 years both with recorded and live performances and has performed in 27 countries around the world to live audiences in excess of ten million. He was unique. A flamboyant blend of supreme musical talent and consummate showmanship. Freddie's death from aids at his house in London in November 1991 robbed us of a world-class creative force in modern rock music.

Montserrat Caballé's supreme vocal talents were first recognised when she sang Lucrezia Borgia by Donizetti in New York's Carnegie Hall. This huge success resulted in the immediate invitation to sing at the Metropoliton Opera House, where she made her equally stunning debut as Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. Her performances have taken her to the greatest opera houses of the world like La Scala, Vienna and Paris. Montserrat Caballé has alternated her operatic performances with recitals and concerts appearing frequently in the great halls of the world. She has sung as soloist with the world's most prestigious orchestras and conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Herbert von Karajan, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti and Sir Georg Solti. Her repertoire includes well over 100 operas, and she has made over 80 recordings including complete operas, recitals and concerts for all the leading record companies, and as well she has appeared in many telecasts. Recipient of many awards and honours, she was given the highest title of the Spanish government, The Order of Dona Isabel La Cat˘lica, and France honoured her with the Cross of Commander of Arts and Letters. 1992 sees her perfoming as much as ever. A Zarzuela Gala at the New Auditorium of Sevilla EXPO 92', two concerts with Mstislav Rostropovich at the Festival d'Evian, a recital at the R O H, Covent Garden and a new production of Il Viaggio a Reims to celebrate Rossini's anniversary, the final performance Gala on July 24th 1992 in the existing theatre of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera prior to its rebuilding. After participating in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic and paraplegic Games in Barelona 1992, she atttracted an even larger following for her enthralling performances.


The re-created Barcelona album is being hailed as the version Mercury would have wanted to make at the time had he felt able to work with a full symphony orchestra

Mercury recorded his original album almost entirely on keyboards. This 2012 special edition replaces Mercury and co-writer and producer Mike Moran's synthesized arrangements with a full symphonic orchestral score performed by the eighty piece FILMharmonic Orchestra, Prague, one of the most sought after recording orchestras in Central Europe, featuring leading members from Czech foremost orchestras (Czech Philharmonic, Prague Symphony).

Called on to transcribe and re-orchestrate the Mercury and Montserrat Caballé tracks which featured on the original album was arranger and music director Stuart Morley whose connection with Queen and Mercury lie in his MD role of the band's hit musical We Will Rock You. Morley is at the heart of this new special edition of the album; alongside Queen sound engineer Kris Fredriksson, Morley is also its producer.

Morley set about creating a new score by 'basically listening to the album over and over in short sections and noting down the harmonic structure, lead orchestral lines and instrumental voicings along with the vocal lines. I then proceeded to expand into making a full orchestral score (with a 2B pencil, ruler and erases -the old fashioned way) working at the piano and constantly referring back to the original recordings to make sure the work I was doing remained faithful to Freddie and Mike Moran's original intentions."

Morley also cites as important references along the way: "Rimsky Korsakov's treatise on orchestration as well as various orchestral scores including Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony, Scheherzade and Dubussy's La Mer. It was important to me," he says,
"that the re-orchestration was constructed and voiced in an authentic classical style whilst remaining faithful to the sound world of the original album."

After months at the pencil and eraser, Morley arrived at the first day of recording in Prague. "I remember feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement when I made the short walk from the hotel to the studio. Hearing just over 80 people tune up before striking the first notes when the conductor gives their first downbeat is always slightly nerve racking for an arranger, but these feeling were amplified ten-fold because of my knowledge, respect and admiration of the original album and its creators.

"I'll never forget the wave of emotion that hit me later on that day when I was handed the headphones while we were recording one of the tutti sections from 'The Fallen Priest' (which was incidentally the biggest and most challenging orchestration to complete) and I felt the sheer power of the orchestra giving it their all, with Freddie and Montserrat soaring over the top of it. That was the moment I knew that we were a part of something really special."

In addition to the orchestral score performed by the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra, other live instruments have been added for the first time. Naoko Kikuchi, one of the few koto players in the western world, flew especially to London to add the ancient oriental instrument to 'La Japonaise'. Rufus Taylor, Queen band member Roger Taylor's son, has replaced the drum machines on 'The Golden Boy' and 'How Can Go On' with live percussion. The latter song also boasts a new violin solo from classical violinist David Garrett joining Queen's John Deacon's original bass part.

'Barcelona - The Special Edition' is finally the album it should have been. The world will undoubtedly rediscover and fall in love with it all over again. The only downside is that the visionary behind this masterpiece is sadly not around to hear it too.

CREDITS - Original Recording

Recorded at Townhouse Studios, London, England and Mountain Studios Montreux, Switzerland.
Produced by Freddie Mercury, Mike Moran and David Richards.
Songs arranged by Mike Moran and Freddie Mercury.
Mastered by Kevin Metcalfe at the Townhouse Studios.
Musical associate: Kevin Townend
Mike Moran: All Keyboards
John Deacon: Bass Guitar on 'How Can I Go On'
Homi Kanga and Laurie Lewis: Violin on 'Barcelona'
Deborah Ann Johnston: Cello on 'Barcelona'
Barry Castle: Horn on 'Barcelona'
Frank Ricoffi: Percussion on 'Barcelona'
Madeleine Bell, Debbie Bishop, Lance Ellington, Miriam Stockley, Peter Straker, Mark Williamson Carol Woods: Backing Vocals on 'The Golden Boy'

(C) 1987 Mercury Songs Ltd.
All lyrics are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes only.

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