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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


MUSIC OF THE BEATLES
Erich Kunzel/Cincinatti Pops Orchestra/king'singers
Recorded 2000
TELARC DSD CD-80540
[55.45]

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I'm rather ambivalent over this one. Sixteen tracks of Beatles songs in crossover arrangements, which, for the most part hardly better the original. Nor are the King's Singers what they once were (including their name which is now king'singers, with changed upper to lower case and the apostrophe), for they lack the warmth of the bass voices of either Simon Carrington (or later Brian Kay), and the cheekily smiling wit of Al Hulme's countertenor. But then it is churlish to criticise the current six for not being a member of the original group through an accident of birth. And some accident that would have had to be, for remarkably the group is currently 35 years old, being formed coincidentally in 1966, the very year in which the Beatles stopped touring and began the process leading to their breakup in 1970. So this disc, with its tripartite format of orchestra alone, orchestra with the singers, and the singers alone, to vary the diet, pulls all the old favourites out of the hat, 'Eleanor Rigby, 'When I'm 64', 'Michelle', Hey Jude', 'Let it be' and so on.

The singers continue on their extremely clever and versatile way, Cambridge to the core, producing a colourful blend, but with the countertenors sounding more like Ernest Lough in that pre-war recording of 'O for the wings of a dove' from Elijah. They are best on their a cappella own, they are also very good at imitating instruments (a quintet of banjos and washboard very funny) but the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is a huge machine more suited to 1812 or a John Williams film score than to accompanying six voices. There are some good moments, but subtlety is scarce and it all goes to show how uniquely irreplaceable the original Fab Four were.

Christopher Fifield

 

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