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Top Pops

September 1, 2007

Pop orchestras are often overlooked by the high-brow crowd as making music for the common folk, which, in turn, look on any form of classical music -- even that written and preformed for all listeners -- as too hoity-toity. Still, there have been examples of conductors and pop orchestras that have managed to work both crowds. The late Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra did this very successfully in the 1950s and 1960s, recording many albums on the RCA label. Today we have another conductor and orchestra attempting to follow these footsteps -- Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, who record on the Telarc label. The biggest difference between the two is that while Fiedler took existing classical music and adapted his performances for the mass audience, Kunzel has looked to more modern fare -- the film score -- and adapted it for classical audiences.

Via albums such as Masters and Commanders [Telarc SACD-60682], Great Film Fantasies [Telarc SACD-60664], Three Choral Suites – Ben Hur, Quo Vadis & King of Kings [Telarc SACD-60631], Mega Movies [Telarc SACD-60535], The Big Picture [Telarc SACD-60437], and Round-Up [Telarc SACD-60141] Kunzel has reached out to an audience that may have too easily dismissed classical music. By playing music that many have heard when attending popular movies, Kunzel opens the door for all to come and explore the world of the classics. If you number yourself among this demographic, then you owe it to yourself to give these albums a listen. All are wonderfully recorded by the team at Telarc, all are available on CD and hybrid multichannel SACD, and all contain music with which you can identify. One listen and you may ask yourself why you waited so long to enjoy such music....John Crossett, johnc@soundstage.com


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