Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Collection: Music for Walt Disney's FANTASIA 2000   edel 0105582DNY

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Featuring Music from:-

Beethoven - Symphony No. 5
- Pines of Rome
- Rhapsody in Blue
- Piano Concerto No. 2
- Carnival of the Animals
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice
- Pomp & Circumstance Marches
Firebird Suite.

Original Film CD Release

When it was first released in 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia was not the initial success the studio had hoped for. Its original purpose was not only to entertain but to introduce audiences, especially younger audiences to classical music. It is to be fervently hoped that Fantasia 2000 will be more successful in this context because young people have less chance now in a heavily pop orientated mass media culture to be introduced to more serious music. Music needs listeners as well as players!

The music on this album is played, for the most part by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Levine. (Curiously the only non-European work, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is played by the British Philharmonia Orchestra).

The publicity blurb that came with the album informs that the world premiere of the film was on Friday December 17 1999 at New York's Carnegie Hall with Levine conducting a synchronised live performance with the film. This event was repeated at London's Albert Hall, and in Paris and Tokyo before a special final US performance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Millennium New Year's Eve. The film then began a four-month engagement in IMAX theatres around the world before its general release in June.

The music includes adaptations of music from the works listed at the head of this review. A brief 3-minute extract from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with the famous fate motif opens the film with this music used "…for experimentation in moving colour and form that advances on the surrealistic and the impressionistic." An adaptation of Ottorino Respighi's Pines of Rome shorn of its Catacomb Pines movement, and that nightingale in the Janiculum movement, is the unlikely backing for visuals of a school of cavorting, flying whales. Rhapsody in Blue seems to have a skating timpanist playing in an animated feature "set against the backdrop of 1930s Manhattan." Shostakovich's Adagio movement of his Piano Concerto No. 2 is a lively accompaniment to Hans Christian Anderson's story 'The Steadfast tin Soldier who is bewitched by a flirty ballerina and threatened by the villainous Jack-in-the-box. The jolly finale of Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals, is danced to by a flock of frolicking flamingos. It seems Micky Mouse is asked to encore his Sorcerer's Apprentice act from the original film - frantic broomsticks and water pails and all. Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 'Land of Hope and Glory' (celebrated by our American visitors as a favourite Graduation March) accompanies Donald Duck's adventures (with Daisy Duck) aboard Noah's Ark when confronted by torrents of water on the rampage. This special arrangement includes bits (or should I say splashes) of material from Elgar's 2nd, 3rd and 4th Pomp and Circumstance Marches for good measure. But the climax of the cartoon has a wordless choir, singing the cartoon's 'Land of Hope and Glory', strongly reinforced by the soaring ah ahhs of Kathleen Battle. Considering how Elgar came to detest the overexposure and misuse of his P&C No. 1, I think he would have quite enjoyed this gentle lampooning. But strictly not for the purists and those lacking a sense of humour. Finally, the excitement of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite "combines a natural design approach with an art nouveau, fairy-tale look to the animation that soars into unhindered imaginative flight as it flows across the screen" - or so says the notes.

Good luck to Fantasia 2000 and may we hope it puts many young people on the road to loving good music


Ian Lace



Ian Lace

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