Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Andrew Lloyd Webber, Erich Kunzel, Ernest [organ] Hoffman|
Erich Kunzel - Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Jesus Christ Superstar, Starlight Express, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) / Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Classical
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Kunzel's different perspective on ALW's musicals
Yi-Peng | Singapore | 11/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kunzel's offering of Andrew Lloyd Webber suites is a worthwhile tribute to this modern-day titan of globalised musicals. Although this album has a different feel from the original cast albums, Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops still perform these affectionate arrangements of Lord Lloyd Webber's musicals expertly, superbly and voluptiously. The creative arrangements by Crafton Beck and Steven Reineke are tastefully and, for the most part, faithfully done, and allow Kunzel to offer a fresh perspective to these musicals in their orchestral settings. And as always Telarc provides its trademark audiophile-quality recording - surround sound quality with a sumptuous spatialiser such that you might be overwhelmed by the Phantom's laughter in the Phantom suite.
Kunzel contrasts the dramatic and lyrical sides of the PHANTOM and SUNSET BOULEVARD suites as if they were written for the Pops. The Phantom suite gains from a breathtaking organ introduction of the Phantom's theme, and from the contrasts in Music of the Night that match the lyrics perfectly, even without the cast album. The tender arrangement of Think of Me cleverly weaves the Angel of Music melody as a counterpoint, while All I Ask of You, complete with some of the details of the original orchestrations, makes a calming answer to Christine's Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. The JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR suite depicts the contrasting and conflicting moods of this groundbreaking rock opera, from the contrasts in I Don't Know How to Love Him to the sheer anguish in Gethsemene (I Only Want to Say).
There are some interesting arrangements on this ALW offering, especially the arrangement of Don't Cry for Me Argentina from EVITA. Although some listeners might be offended when it transmorphs itself into the Ravel Bolero after doing an about-turn from its lush, Spanish feel, it still depicts Evita's rise to power and her manipulative trait in her character, well-suiting an orchestral concert arrangement of the tune and fitting in with the spirit of the musical. Another interesting arrangement is the rousing theme-and-variation finale of Any Dream Will Do from JOSEPH, which incorporates many different musical styles throughout the variations, from ballroom waltzing to jazz, movie music (Magnificent Seven) and circus-style music. I know some listeners might be offended, but in their own inimitable and creative way, Kunzel and the Pops still pay tribute to this early ALW musical by evoking the myriad of colours on the coat and the diversity of musical styles in the original JOSEPH musical. This arrangement certainly fits the trademark style of the Pops perfectly.
The only fault with this collection is in the arrangement of Memory from CATS. Here, this song is treated as a flat-out romantic ballad, rather than as the haunting anthem for respect that Grizabella sings. Nevertheless, the arrangement by Tommy Newsom (who wrote this arrangement for a Doc Severinson album) is innofensive to this well-loved ALW melody (this is the only arrangement that Crafton Beck or Steven Reineke didn't write for this album). Also, I wish that Kunzel had included Love Changes Everything and Whistle Down the Wind, but given the fact that this was a 1996 recording, ALW hadn't written Whistle down the Wind as yet. But these are minor caveats, since Kunzel offers much to savour in these infectuous and spirited performances. Lastly, this CD is a reissue of the original 1996 recording, but Kunzel and the Pops made a recording of the new Evita song You Must Love Me when they recorded the Beautiful Hollywood CD a year later. A pity that Telarc hadn't taken advantage of this reissue to include it here.
Yet I still feel that Kunzel's ALW offering is a winner in its lush orchestral suite arrangements of his well-loved and great musicals, far superior to any shopping-mall synthesised arrangement. This would surely count towards another feather in Kunzel's cap and stand pride of place with his rousing offering of Rodgers & Hammerstein. I'm sure Lord Lloyd Webber would have been proud."