The Never Ending Waltz – Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/ Erich Kunzel – Telarc

by | Oct 26, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

The Never Ending Waltz – Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/ Erich Kunzel – Telarc multichannel SACD-60668 56:16 **:Well-recorded kitsch is still kitsch, n’est-ce pas?  Perhaps this disc simply reveals me for the snob I have become. Erich Kunzel, who should know better, has taken the worst impulses from the populist notions of classical music and, a la Fiedler and bad Stokowski, spliced some 44 waltzes together “by their good parts” to make an unbroken line of reveries. The waltz genres derive from eight distinct sections, ranging from Johann Strauss concert waltzes by Glazounov, Brahms, and Berlioz, to Viennese opera and operetta to Waldteufel and Tchaikovsky. Do I detect an instant replay item at KDFC-FM in sunny California, where even the Humming Chorus from Puccini is suppressed into an instrumental lollipop? The bit from Ivanovici did remind me that once I owned the 78 rpm of Al Jolson singing the vocal version. The playing by the CPO is elegant enough to warrant our wishing they’d play these pieces straight and stop kibbitzing with aggrandized elevator music. At best a sophisticates’ party-joke; otherwise, go back to Kleiber, Krauss, Walter, Svetlanov, and Knappertsbusch for the real McCoy.

— Gary Lemco

On the other hand, if you have SACD playback, a decent surround speaker system, and are an aficionado of anything Viennese, the five-channel hi-res version of this waltz gimmick may just pull your chain. The completely seamless stringing together of the various familiar and unfamiliar waltzes produces a dream-like state I found similar to that of Ravel’s La Valse – though without the dark and threatening aspects of that work. The five Tchaikovsky waltzes dovetail together in a quite thrilling seven-minute wrap up to the waltz marathon.

– John Sunier

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