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Peter & The Commissar

Arthur Fiedler , Boston Pops , Allan Sherman Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)


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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: #182,272 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Parodies of Music as well as Lyrics 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Classically funny 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A must have for Allan Sherman fans 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherman & Fiedler together - WOW! September 27, 2005
Verified Purchase
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have December 17, 2004
Verified Purchase
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
4.0 out of 5 stars About Bloody Time March 1, 2005
According to most people, I am "far too young to get Allan Sherman". Meh! shows what they know. I first found Peter and the Commisar about 15 years ago at a garage sale. My record player has long since gone to dust, but not my memory of this hillarious album. Arthur Fiedler (sp) performing the "solo burp" - absolutely timeless. I am thrilled beyond measure that RCA has seen fit to release this on CD. I just hope it will still have the same feel without all the pings and scratches from the old 33.3 <G>
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wacky & Classic
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 more
Published on December 17, 2011 by Wayne E. Bretl
5.0 out of 5 stars over the top good
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter
This is such a popular cd set that I've not been able to get it back from my wife's choral director. Read more
Published on October 9, 2011 by John Addington
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Sherman and the Boston Pops skewer the classics
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 more
Published on September 10, 2010 by Chrisbuyer
5.0 out of 5 stars I Was There
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 more
Published on June 9, 2010 by GARY G
1.0 out of 5 stars Charley
I first purchased this album as a vinyl piece in 1965. With the demise of the turntable and magnetic cartridge, the album has been sitting in storage with no means to play. Read more
Published on May 25, 2010 by Charles E. Roach, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun with the classics
I had many years ago Peter and the Commissar of vinyl but it got lost along lifes way and talking classical music with friends made me remember this recording. Read more
Published on July 5, 2009 by Martin Roland
5.0 out of 5 stars finally reissued, a gem
This was until recently unavailable, but no longer. This was Allan's only live album, with no less a back-up band than Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. Read more
Published on March 4, 2009 by P. Robert Maiden Mueller
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must" for any Allan Sherman fan
I first heard "Peter and the Commissar" when I was a teenager and my cousin played it for me. She had found it among a collection of Boston Pops LPs her parents had. Read more
Published on August 18, 2008 by Nylima
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Allan Sherman fans and for Music Lovers
This is a great piece to have in your collection. The music is great, done by the Boston Pops, and the commentary is spot on and funny, if not dated. Read more
Published on May 8, 2008 by Tom B.
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