Peter & The Commissar
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This was recorded with the Boston Pops Symphony during its heyday under the baton of Arthur Fiedler. The longest single piece is PETER AND THE COMMISSAR which runs for over 20 minutes. Instead of adding his own lyrics to the tune from the classic PETER AND THE WOLF, he substitutes his own narration for the original. The orchestra does its own part by parodying famous works from great composers. Beethoven's 5th Symphony done as a blues piece is but one example.
Another example of this type of parody is the VARIATIONS ON A THEME FROM "HOW DRY I AM". Again, different music is taken from out of context and played in counterintuitive styles. All the while, the tune from "How Dry I am" keeps appearing. In this respect this work is a direct ancestor of Peter Shickle and his PDQ Bach albums.
The final piece is called END OF A SYMPHONY. It is a parody of the bombastic and grandiose endings that symphonies tend to have. Sherman narrates and the Pops plays...and plays...and plays.
A great piece for lovers of classical music!
This by the way is just about the best "live" recording I've ever heard. Produced by Peter Dellheim and engineered by Edwin Begley, two stars in the Victor recording firmament, they capture the "live" sound of the Pops well, keep the audience response low enough so the orchestra can be heard (though the more than 13,000 people in the Shed are still most definately in the room!), and hearing it in stereo for the first time, on a "surround" system, is quite an experience.
The reproduction of the notes on the back of the original Red Seal album IS hard to read, though under a lens it's possible. The essay on the inside, though also difficult to read, explains much about this album and its place in Sherman's life.
I met Sherman in late 1967 in a deli on East 60th Street here in Manhattan, introduced myself as a music student, told him how much I loved this album, and thanked him for it. HIs surly and curt response shocked me at the time, but, reading the essay in this CD, now I understand it. This night, 22 July 1964, was indeed, sadly, the "most exciting night" of his life.
The album is different than any of his other albums in that it doesn't contain song parodies. Rather, the title track is about a boy, Peter, trying to get his song approved by the commisar. The music is set to 'Peter and the Wolf'.
Two other track are variations on 'How dry I am' and Allan Sherman's musings on how all symphony endings seem to sound the same.
The CD contains liner notes on Allan Sherman and the 'Peter and the Commisar' recording with the Boston Pops. The one negative is that the back cover of the album was photographed and reproduced. The quality of the copy is so poor that it is almost impossible to read.
This is a must have for serious Allan Sherman fans.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For those who think all classical music lovers are snobs, I herewith declare that I, a life-long classical devotee, loved this album when it first appeared back in the 60's. Read morePublished 9 months ago by GARY KAPLAN
I have an original album that I got for Christmas in 1964. It was my introduction to classical music. I loved it when I got it and have kept it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by George Dore
Great stuff from Allan Sherman's classic comedy with the Boston Pops.Published 13 months ago by Gary A. Levine
Alan Sherman writes a cold-war version of "Peter and the Wolf," points out the extreme length of symphonic endings, and drags in every imaginable melody, classic or not, that could... Read morePublished on December 17, 2011 by Wayne E. Bretl
My mother has this on vinyl, and as a kid, I would play it all the time. The man is funny funny funney.Published on November 23, 2011 by karebear
This is such a popular cd set that I've not been able to get it back from my wife's choral director. Read morePublished on October 9, 2011 by John Addington
There are 3 parts to this album, Peter and the Commissar is a hilarious parody of Peter and the Wolf, skewering the actions of government in general, not to mention the tale of... Read morePublished on September 10, 2010 by Chrisbuyer
I can't yet vouch for the quality of this CD as I'm only familiar with the original vinyl. But having been among the audience that night, I can definitely vouch for Alan Sherman's... Read morePublished on June 9, 2010 by GARY G