Three Choral Suites: Ben-Hur / Quo Vadis / King of Kings
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Erich Kunzel, conducting the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform three musical suites of Rozsa's music in arrangements started by the composer. The three film scores that have been arranged in suite form are the three of MGM's greatest large scale works: BEN-HUR, QUO VADIS, and KING OF KINGS. Overall, Kunzel and the Pops do a magnificent job in this recording and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does the job listeners have come to expect from this ensemble over the years. Kunzel, who was one of the collaborators that completed the arrangements begun by Rozsa, conveys his love and appreciation in his conducting. The arrangements also keep the spirit of the three films, and listening to these arrangements brings back scenes from these films which are examples of Hollywood at what may be its best, if not its grandest.
This recording of film music by Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops is different from his earlier recordings of Hollywood classics. The suites are arranged by composer and not the orchestra's arrangers. In this recording the music is very similar to what is heard in the films, and are not themes of the music in pop arrangements as is the case of the HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST HITS collections or the Disney collections which gives this collection more of a classical orientation rather than a pop style.
In that context this recording is almost strange. To record the Tabernacle Choir separately from the Orchestra is just plain wrong. Listening to the SuperAudioCD version, the two organizations are obviously in different acoustical settings.
It is true that the Saint Saens Organ Symphony has been recorded with the organ separate from the orchestra. BUT the organ part in that work is compartively simple, chordal, and doesn't move around much -- synchronization isn't a big deal.
I know of no other recording that tries to put two very large organizations together miles and months apart. As noted it comes off pretty well (from a synchronization standpoint), but the choir is lost in an acoustic which swallows enuciation.
There aren't many "words" in these works. There's a lot of "Ah Ah" vocalizing (sometimes referred to as 'vapor singing'). The hebrew in Quo Vadis comes across nicely but it is acappella.
Bottom line: they should have either recorded it in Cincinnati with the May Festival Chorus or in Salt Lake with the Utah Symphony. Either town has acoustical settings equal to the project.
This could have been a wonderful recording. But the fact that Telarc has gotten away from its audiophile-quality roots is the culprit in this recording being less than it might have been.
This recording features the Mormon Tabernacle Choir united with the Cincinnati Pops and Mr. Kunzel. The choir adds a welcome dimension and breathes new life into such classics as King of Kings, where the original soundtrack recording suffered from distortion. In this reworking of Rozsa's music, one gets to hear the sheer power and beauty of the King of Kings score, and one can admire the craft that went into these influential film scores.
Speaking of craft, special kudos must be given to Mr. Kunzel for actually seeming to interpret these works, rather than perfomring a perfunctory or rushed reading as I have so often heard on Silva releases. Silva has released many re-recordings of rare film music, but I always get the feeling when listeining to them that the orchestra is almost sight reading the material and there doesn't seem to be a budget for retakes as often times mistakes are heard. Kunzel on the other hand, seems to have taken his time and has brought some fresh interpretations to this material. Sometimes this may fall flat, as in the rushed Rowing of the Galley Slaves from Ben-Hur (those slaves would have been dead from exhaustion long before the piece is over), but most times the fresh perspective works.
As a Rozsa fan, I really love the Quo Vadissuite.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Miklos Rozsa was one of the greatest Composers. I love the music on this CD.Published 8 months ago by C. Hicklin
I get all goose bumpy when I listen to these glorious movie scores.Published 11 months ago by C. Clopton
This is a very satisfactory rendering of the music from Quo Vadis, Ben Hur and King of Kings by the Cincinati Pops Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Judith E. Hanhisalo
Strong, powerful and evocative. Brings back memories of when movie scores were an integral part of the movie. Truly "Hollywood Spectacular"!Published on December 8, 2013 by Victor J Shanley
Miklos Rozsa was to film music of the 1940's through 1980's what Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold had been even earlier and what John Williams and others have... Read morePublished on April 25, 2013 by John J. Puccio
Wonderful recording from some classic films of the past. Nice arrangements and well performed. Enjoyed listening to all three suites.Published on August 18, 2012 by JR