After Crying are easily the leading proponents of symphonic prog today and this release cinches their status. It’s interesting that Bootleg Symphony, taken from a live performance last October in Budapest, comes out the same year that Yes embarks upon a world tour with an orchestra behind them. Having attended one of the recent Yes shows I can say that After Crying did it better. The small orchestra behind the band is extremely well integrated into the material, not too tough a job since the music is written in such a highly orchestral manner. Live staples such as “Struggle for Life” take on larger dimension with the addition of the strings and brass (the added bit of Crimson’s “Great Deceiver” is especially fun) while “Intermezzo” is given a strongly Ravel-like arrangement. Those who attended NEARfest 2001 will recognize the rollicking piano jaunt “Burlesque” and the whole affair winds up strongly with the proggy “Finale” and the romantic “Shinin’”, laden with sweeping strings and emotion to spare. Pianist Zoltan Lengyel and trumpet player Balazs Winkler turn in the most noteworthy performances from the band with fine spot work from guitarist Ferenc Torma. Peter Pejtsik fans will probably miss his cello work due to his position as lead conductor though I question how much he could have been heard anyway. Overall this is as good an example of symphonic prog as I’ve heard in some time and for fans of the genre this is a must buy. Highly recommended.