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CD Review

Miklós Rózsa

Three Choral Suites

  • Ben-Hur
  • Quo Vadis
  • King of Kings
Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Craig Jessop
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel
Telarc CD-80631 DDD 61:54
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.comFind it at CD Universe Find it at JPC
Also released on Hybrid Multichannel SACD SACD-60631:
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC

Twice reviewed already on Classical Net, this outstanding disc from the late and very great Erich Kunzel is one of his finest achievements on record. Like Arthur Fiedler before him, he was almost always recording "pops" programs with the occasional Gershwin or Tchaikovsky program thrown in. While critics are ultimately divided on exactly how fine a conductor he was, he was a Cincinnati institution and a great ambassador for classical music. Besides, some of his recordings are so fun, and so accessible, that you can almost overlook the dozens of soupy film discs he made.

Telarc SACD 60631

This is one program that is the exact opposite of soupy, because it's not just some album of popular tunes for a quick buck. The choir and orchestra – recorded separately in Ohio and Utah even though you'd probably never guess – sound utterly magnificent. Telarc gives us the illusion that the massive Mormon Tabernacle Choir is simply soaring above the Cincinnati Pops, and the effect is so breathtaking that you'd have to be an absolute curmudgeon to care. Kunzel has his forces playing with the same kind of vigor and excitement that made this orchestra's Mahler so special; outstanding brass playing allied to razor-sharp strings and fine percussion to boot. This was not always the conductor's strength, and we can be thankful that these suites are so well put together and interpreted.

I'm reviewing this disc because I asked for it without looking at our archives first. For far more detail, please refer to the fabulous prior reviews from Raymond Tuttle and Steve Schwartz. In particular, Mr. Schwartz offers some rather humorous perspective on the films and composer. If Mr. Schwartz found the music "a lot of fun", I'm inclined to agree with him entirely (as opposed to Mr. Tuttle's more cautious recommendation). On the other hand, I agree with Mr. Tuttle regarding the engineering (Mr. Schwartz found it overly artificial and was unhappy with it). I have no issues with the Telarc sound, even on my modest stereo. All three of us found things we liked, and each of us heard something a little different. For me, I think there is much to enjoy here, and the chance to read and refer to the work of my fellow writers is one of the many reasons I enjoy working with Classical Net.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman