The 5 Browns in Hollywood [TrackList below] – Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra and Desirae Brown, pianos – E1 Entertainment E1E-CD-2041, 1 hour ****:
Our policy at AUDIOPHILE AUDITION is to spell out numbers under ten, but since the 5 Browns have used that Arabic number from their start we won’t try to counter that. This group of siblings was the first family of five ever to be accepted at Juilliard. They’ve been described as “button-down cute and somewhat otherworldly.” Most apt. They’ve done several albums now, three of which showed up as No. 1 on Billboard’s Classical Album Chart. Time has passed since their first RCA CD, and now all five are happily married of course, and thanking their various mates in the album notes.
It should be understood that not all the tracks on a 13-track album such as this one feature all five pianists in action at once. There are solo stints, duos, and only six of the selections feature the 5 Browns – including the final three-movement Hitchcock Movie Suite. Their arrangements are extremely effective, and not just for the five of them but also on solo numbers such as Greg Anderson’s arrangement of themes from The Wizard of Oz. The Hollywood theme of this album naturally calls for a Disney movie medley – another fine Anderson arrangement, this time for all 5 Browns. Though it includes Over the Rainbow and My Favorite Things, the repertory is unusually varied and not hackneyed. There’s even a Philip Glass selection – from his score for the film The Hours. As well as a Nino Rota film theme.
The keyboard chops of these five young Mormons cannot be faulted in any way, and their success in bringing classical music to people who have never before paid much attention to it is to be applauded – and doing it the most tasteful manner too. My only beef is – as a proponent of Music in Surround – that it’s most unfortunate this is a standard two-channel CD rather than the multichannel efforts of their first couple of RCA Albums. An aggregation of five grand pianos simply cries out for hi-res surround sound – even surrounding the listener a la Tacet’s multichannel recordings. Come on, E1, if you‘re afraid of SACD, how about a Blu-ray? Then you could include some new videos of the 5 Browns, which were a kick on their RCA album.
Star Wars: Suite for 5 Pianos; To Kill a Mockingbird: Main Title; Over the Rainbow; Solace (A Mexican Serenade); 3 Waltzes for 5 Browns (Disney Movie Medley); The Hours: Morning Passages; The Sound of Music: My Favorite Things; Atonement; Catch Me If You Can: Opening Credits; Romeo and Juliet: A Renaissance Timepiece; Hitchcock Movie Suite: Music from Psycho, Vertigo & North By Northwest.
— John Sunier