Gramophone is a magazine published monthly in London by Haymarket devoted to classical music, particularly recordings. It was founded in 1923. (wikipedia)

1984 December

Vol. 62 Issue 739


Boulez Conducts Zappa
By Michael Oliver, pp 770, 775

   Despite his protestations to the contrary ( ''all material contained herein is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be confused with any other form of artistic expression''), despite his whimsical titles and his joky, deliberately misleading sleeve-notes, this is Frank Zappa's 'serious' music, and seriously the best of it should be taken. Zappa describes its style as ''preposterously non-modern'', but for the biggest and most 'serious' piece here, The Perfect Stranger, 'post-Varese with frequent gestures of acknowledgment towards Messiaen' would be closer to the mark. (read more)



1985 July

Vol. 63 Issue 746


Frank Zappa plays Francesco Zappa
By Gordon Reynolds, p 145

  "Francesco Zappa, we're told, survived 25 years of the eighteenth century before making his final cadence. It is surprising his neighbours stood it for so long as that. Not that there is anything the least objectionable in his music. Quite the reverse. It suffers from complete perfection—impeccably elegant, blissfully symmetrical, and regular as a well-dosed patient. His notes could never be inégales. Francesco's twentieth-century namesake, however, recognized in these scores suitable material for transmutation into the golden glories of space-age timbres." (read more



1994 August

Vol. 72 Issue 855


A Chance Operation - John Cage Tribute
By Robert Cowan, p 72

   "Indeed, it is both touching and apposite that Cage's legendary 4'33'' of inhabited silence be entrusted to the late Frank Zappa who, the odd shuffle notwithstanding, simply sits by and lets it all happen. Your contribution—and don't forget that for Cage, listening also means participating—is to have Zappa's silence enrich your own, so that whatever occurs therein (or thereafter) helps fashion a 'unique' experience." (read more)  



1996 April

Vol. 73 Issue 875


Prime Meridian
By Michael Oliver, p 70

   "The phrase ‘arranged for brass quintet’ too often means ‘emasculated and equipped with brass-band cliches and showy solos for the lead trumpet’. Meridian, however, is a sextet (brass plus drums), most of whose players can either double on a non-brass instrument (guitar, saxophone, more drums) or can sort of sing. So I need not have worried: the mercurial Zappa and the anarchic Don Van Vliet (also known as Captain Beefheart) are not excessively neatened and tidied by these arrangements. " (read more)   



2001 January

Vol. 78 Issue 936


(The) Zappa Album
By Michael Oliver, p 76

  "Yes, this is Frank Zappa played on baroque instruments. Authenticity to Zappa is no doubt a deal more important than authenticity to the baroque, so no one will object to the (doubly) inauthentic use of a melodica (a sort of end-blown mouth-organ with a keyboard; though Zappa might have preferred its coarser cousin the goofus); in fact, doubling with baroque oboe it can sound rather like a saxophone, and on its own can produce the ‘bent’ notes that were so characteristic of Zappa’s guitar playing. Speaking of guitars and authenticity, the baroque strings use an amount of pizzicato that would have surprised Monteverdi, though both he and Zappa might have regretted the infrequent use of the punchy baroque bassoon." (read more



2004 May

Vol. 81 Issue 979


Ensemble Moderne plays Frank Zappa
By Ken Smith, p 53

  "The idea of Frank Zappa’s compositions becoming repertory music is a delicious irony, though not entirely an accidental one. On one hand, he regarded most classical ensembles as glorified bar bands covering other people’s hits; on the other, he often said he played rock music only because no classical musicians would play his works. For Zappa, seriousness and shock value went hand in hand, and the key to being in his club was knowing how to separate the two." (read more)



2012 November

Vol. 90 Issue 1089


Zappa arranged for the RAM’s new music ensemble
By Philip Clark, p 58

   "This album of orchestrated Frank Zappa arrives, as such albums tend to, with a fawning booklet-note by a classical composer – hello Philip Cashian, who’s clearly in love with the Zappa mythology. As Cashian points out, Zappa was indeed a ‘guitarist, songwriter, composer, film-maker, satirist, writer and social and political commentator all rolled into one’ and while, fair comment, it’s true that ‘you could never tell which combinations of those elements would come out in Zappa’s music’, that doesn’t mean everything he touched turned to gold. The big feature here is The Perfect Stranger, which Zappa, with characteristic chutzpah, managed to persuade Pierre Boulez to record in 1974." (read more)



2013 March

Vol. 90 Issue 1094


Rewriting The Rite
By Philip Clark, pp 29-31, 33

"Stravinsky's revolutionary Rite is 100 this year. From Messiaen and Boulez to Reich and Zappa, no musician after Stravinsky could fail to be influenced bu his revolutionary ballet score, writes Philip Clark."

Source: Vitaly Zaremba


2014 November

Vol. 92 Issue 1116


Goebbels. Zappa.
Perfect Strangers
Suite for Sampler and Orchestra from Surrogate Cities
Zappa The Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat. Dupree’s Paradise. The Perfect Stranger. G‑Spot Tornado. Revised Music for Low Budget Orchestra
Norwegian Radio Orchestra / Thomas Søndergård
LAWO Classics LWC1063 (69’ • DDD)
By Richard Whitehouse, p 29

Whereas Goebbels provokes, Frank Zappa overwhelms in his desire to confront the listener with his pungent and (almost) invariably ironic worldview. This selection of five orchestral pieces, taken from across his multifarious output, underlines why this most assaultive of rock musicians has posthumously become a composer with whom to reckon – ranging as it does from the sardonic schmaltz of Dog Breath Variations, via the Boulezian textural intricacy of The Perfect Stranger, to the big-band anarchy of Revised Music for Low Budget Orchestra. Famously intolerant of ‘dumbing down’ on whatever level, Zappa demands a commitment from his players such as the Norwegian forces meet admirably. The sound is commendably detailed and upfront, though it is a pity that the stylishness of LAWO’s presentation is rather compromised by the booklet-notes – superficial for Goebbels, wholly inadequate for Zappa.