The newest in the long-running Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops series of SACDs is another sonic blockbuster. There are plenty of Boleros out there, but since the piece – by the composer’s own admission – doesn’t really have any music in it, you might as well have the most spectacular surround sound and bass-drum-heavy version. This is it. The 13-minute-long slow crescendo can become a roaring bore in versions of lesser fidelity – especially on historic recordings. With Telarc’s DSD-originated SACD surround you hear every little addition to the orchestral and rhythmic mix.
For the Borodin tunes used in the operetta Kismet – probably the most successful of the transformations of classical composer’s efforts into Broadway hits by the team of Wright & Forrest – Kunzel has cleverly arranged the original Borodin work excerpts into the order in which they were heard in the Broadway musical. The theme from his Symphony No. 2 starts off the medley, but I prefer to think of that theme as introducing the BBC Radio episodes of the sci-fi epic The Day of the Triffids. Other Borodin works sampled include In the Steppes of Central Asia, the Second String Quartet, and the famous Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor.
The Carmen Suites are simply the composer’s own first and second suites in sequence. The famous Telarc bass drum makes its impactful presence known in the more military-slanted portions of the suites. For the spectacular closing selection, Kunzel turns to the most exuberant of the sections of Albeniz’s original piano music suite Iberia. The super-colorful religious procession music was orchestrated by Enrique Arbos, and sounds like an audio demonstration track, but with great artistry and depth.
1. Boléro – Maurice Ravel
2. Kismet: Medley Part 1 – George Forrest
3. Kismet: Medley Part 2 – George Forrest
4. Carmen: Suite no. 1 – Act 1 Prelude ‘Les toréadors’
5. Carmen: Suite no. 1 – Act 4 Prelude ‘Aragonaise’
6. Carmen: Suite no. 1 – Act 3 Prelude ‘Intermezzo’
7. Carmen: Suite no. 1 – Séguedille
8. Carmen: Suite no. 1 – Act 2 Prelude ‘Les dragons d’Alcala’
9. Carmen: Suite no. 1 – Act 1 Prelude ‘Les toréadors’
10. Carmen: Suite no. 2 – Marche des Contrebandiers
11. Carmen: Suite no. 2 – Habañera
12. Carmen: Suite no. 2 – Chanson de Toréador
13. Carmen: Suite no. 2 – Avec la garde montante ‘Children’s Chorus’
14. Carmen: Suite no. 2 – Danse bohème
15. Suite Iberia, Book 1: No. 3, El Corpus en Sevilla – Isaac Albéniz
– John Sunier