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Peter & The Commissar


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Audio CD, November 9, 2004
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Product Details

  • Performer: Allan Sherman
  • Orchestra: Boston Pops
  • Conductor: Arthur Fiedler
  • Audio CD (November 9, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Collector's Choice Music / BMG Special Products
  • ASIN: B0002LO7GU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,163 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Peter and The Commissar - Fiedler, Arthur
2. Variations On "How Dry I Am" - Fiedler, Arthur
3. The End of a Symphony - Fiedler, Arthur

Editorial Reviews

With Allan Sherman’s Warner Bros. albums currently off limits, we were combing the vaults looking for something else by Allan to license when we stumbled across this gem. Deemed by Sherman himself as "the most exciting night of my life," this 1964 performance at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops indeed may have represented the zenith of his career, as Sherman, with the help of orchestrator Jerry Fielding, entertained 13,000 fans with dead-on skewerings of sacred cows, musical and otherwise. 'Peter and the Commissar', for example, rewrites 'Peter and the Wolf' to depict the travails of a young songwriter whose work is rejected by authorities who think they know what the public wants, a theme that had resonance (and still does!) on both sides of the Iron Curtain. 'Variations on "How Dry I Am"', meanwhile, twists that familiar, four-note theme into endless permutations, and 'The End of a Symphony' beats P.D.Q. Bach to the punch by sending up the repetitious codas used by Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and other great composers. This album has never been reissued on LP or CD, and for Allan Sherman fans fixated on his more famous work, it’s likely to be a revelation. A 'Collectors’ Choice Music' exclusive!

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
HIs surly and curt response shocked me at the time, but, reading the essay in this CD, now I understand it.
Arthur R. Krieck
As MOST of the remastered CD's I own of Arthur Fiedler directing the Boston Pops Orchestra, this has great sound quality.
Waybo
The title track is a very funny piece of satire and I enjoyed listening to it again after such a long time.
Eric Van De Weyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John A Lee III on July 4, 2005
Verified Purchase
Allan Sherman was known for making great parodies of songs. Sometimes he even added lyrics to tunes that never had lyrics to begin with. Much of his work is dated now due to changing cultural reference but many of the gags can be understood by anyone. Unfortunately, most of his work is no longer available. There is a "Greatest Hits" album that is well worth the money and now there is this album, an album very different from his other works.

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!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Arthur R. Krieck on December 15, 2005
I owned a mono LP of this at its first release, and I'm pleased to finally have it on CD. I'm happy to find the laughs still intact! The huge Tanglewood audience is clearly having a great time (I have a friend who was in the audience in the Shed that night and he said it was even more hilarious in person) and Sherman's brilliant parodies seem even funnier after more than 40 years. Did Peter Schikele get his inspiration for PDQ Bach from this album?

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barry F. Stinson on September 27, 2005
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Years ago (I lost count) I owned this recording on 8-track cassette. I've been searching for the past 20 years or so, trying to explain to friends what a treat it was. Today, on a whim, I visited amazon.com and got a very pleasant surprise. A superb recording, to be enjoyed by lovers of classical music, musical comedy, general humor...hell, anyone that appreciates beautiful music and enjoys a good laugh...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Ehrlich on February 5, 2005
I just finished listening to this CD. This is the only one of Allan Sherman's original albums that have been re-issued on CD. For whatever reason, Warner Brothers has not re-issued any of the original albums nor produced a box set. Until now, there was only the greatist hits collection. This albums was originally issued by RCA, which is why I believe that it was able to be re-issued.

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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sgt. Greg Parker on December 17, 2004
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Comedy and Classical Music don't always go well together. PDQ Bach misses as often as he hits, but this album by Allan Sherman and the Boston Pops is just perfect. The jokes are a bit dated -- it's from the 1960s -- but this is a must-own for any Classical Music fan with a sense of humor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cathie E. Kreigh on January 29, 2006
This is the most hilarious CD with a classical bent I have ever heard. Allen Sherman is gifted when it comes to imaginative uses of classical themes. Anyone who has heard any of these famous melodies will laugh themselves silly when they hear what is done to them! It's a super pick-me-up when I'm feeling blue. It's a must-hear for all you classical music buffs!
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