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The Olympic Experience
Track-list at end of review
Strasbourg Philharmonic/Alain Lombard (Strauss, Ravel)
Jean-François Paillard Chamber Orchestra/Louis Martini (Charpentier, Handel - Water Music)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis (Elgar)
Cleveland Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnányi (Mussorgsky)
Plácido Domingo/German Opera Orchestra Berlin/Nello Santi (Puccini)
Michael Chance, James Bowman/English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner (Purcell)
Libera (Prizeman)
Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Jukka-Pekka Saraste (Prokofiev)
London Philharmonic Choir and orchestra/Zubin Mehta (Orff)
Leningrad Philharmonic/Yevgeny Mravinsky (Wagner)
English Chamber Choir and Orchestra/Raymond Leppard (Handel - Hallelujah)
*+Arnold Schoenberg Choir/*Vienna Philharmonic/+Chamber Orchestra of Europe/*+Nikolaus Harnoncourt (*Verdi, +Beethoven)
rec. No details supplied. DDD (except Wagner, ADD)
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 66702-4 [72:20]

Experience Classicsonline

It is a truism that there is no bandwagon that cannot be jumped on, and that goes for the classical music industry as much as any other. Although no dates are given in the booklet, these bleeding chunks are cut mainly from the Seventies and Nineties, with a handful from other decades. The disc is cheesily subtitled '19 tracks of winning music', which is true for the main part, but there are some daft inclusions here and one or two of the recordings are pretty moth-eaten. Charpentier's 'Prelude' is tinny, as is Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma'. Recording levels have not been properly adjusted either, so that some pieces are at a quieter overall level than others. Furthermore, rather than allowing final chord reverberation to die away naturally, some tracks have been faded down sharply to digital silence, only in most cases for a few seconds of space to intervene before the next track!
Most of the recordings are at least okay, however. The Prokofiev, for example, is fairly new and of excellent quality, as are the New Age-style pieces by Robert Prizeman, which, alas, make Karl Jenkins sound like Beethoven. Speaking of whom, Prizeman's Sacris Solemnis is based on the slow movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, but Beethoven would probably have sued for calumny. No one who knows anything about real music would have dropped Libera into an album of generally top-notch performers.
Despite that impressive array of big names, these are not all stellar performances. Plácido Domingo's voice is almost unrecognisable as his in this 1960s Nessun Dorma, and his singing is pretty forgettable. The same goes for the slack-jawed enunciation of Orff's O Fortuna by the London Philharmonic Choir. Surely it would have been better to omit Elgar's Cockaigne Overture, Ravel's Boléro and the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony altogether than to fade them in with a few minutes left like pop tracks!
The English Baroque Soloists in Purcell's Sound the Trumpets are one of the few genuine highlights, and more so the terrific account of the original version of Mussorgsky's Bare Mountain by the Cleveland Orchestra.
The accompanying booklet, with its gaudy and rather strange cover, gives a surprisingly detailed track-listing, far more than the people who will buy this disc - sports fans who listen to a bit of Classic FM, presumably - are likely to require. Perversely, no information at all is given on the music or the performers, and nor is any explanation given as to how these pieces of music constitute an 'Olympic Experience'. The programme ends in emphatic style, with the closing four minutes of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but as an experience this disc is generally more Falirakian than Olympian.
Collected reviews and contact at

Track list

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Also Sprach Zarathustra (excerpt) [1:35]
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704)
Te Deum in D - Prelude [1:21]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Cockaigne Overture (excerpt) [6:22]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
A Night on the Bare Mountain [12:38]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Nessun Dorma [3:24]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Sound the Trumpet [3:43]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Water Music - Bourrée [1:13]
Music for the Royal Fireworks - La Réjouissance [2:28]
Hallelujah Chorus [4:03]
Robert PRIZEMAN (b.1952)
Sacris Solemnis [4:04]
Angelis [4:29]
Jubilate [4:07]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Dance of The Knights [4:06]
Carl ORFF (1895-1982)
O Fortuna! [2:36]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Ride of the Valkyries [4:15]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Boléro (excerpt) [2:22]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Gloria all'Egitto, ad Iside and Triumphal March [5:35]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Ode to Joy (excerpt) [4:09]












































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