Check Out Our Turntable Store
Need a new record player? Check out our turntable store for a great selection of turntables, needles, accessories, and more.
Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Popular Classics
Special offers and product promotions
Have a question?
Find answers in product info, Q&As, reviews
Please make sure that you are posting in the form of a question.
RARE VINTAGE CLASSICAL PORTSMOUTH SINFONIA PLAYS THE POPULAR CLASSICS conducted by JOHN FARLEY selections included from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1: "Morning" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King" Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite: "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and Waltz of the Flowers" Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in C Minor, Op. 67 Rossini's William Tell Overture Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra Op. 31 (Excerpt) Johann Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz, Op. 314 J.S. Bach's Suite No. 3 in D Major: "Air" Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite No. 2: "Farandole" and Hoist's The Planets, Op. 32 (Excerpt): "Jupiter"
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The selections on this disk exhibit haphazard dynamics, arbitrary phrasing, poor coordination between players, and only the barest approximation of the correct notes, although several of the performers are much better than the others. The genius of the originals is rarely apparent, proving that the performer may be more important than the composer. Certainly many fine pieces have been ruined by poor performance, in this case, intentionally. While Jenkins appears to have considered herself a virtuoso, and Cardew was motivated by his political beliefs, Bryars' intentions with the Sinfonia are unclear. Was he trying to make the orchestra more democratic, in that talent was irrelevant? Was he simply making fun of classical music's typical stuffiness? Or did he have some other goal?
Regardless, this disk essentially comprises "cover versions" of standard warhorses, that most people will be familiar with. What's interesting is that as with any performance, the listener will hear nuances of composition that may not have been apparent before. If you thought that you couldn't hear anything new or surprising in these pieces, this disk will dispel that notion.
Most folks mistakenly think Roxy Music keyboardist/composer Brian Eno was the brains behind this outfit. Wrong. It was actually composer Gavin Bryars who started the ensemble in 1969 while attending the Portsmouth College of Art (hence the name). (Eno was a member of the group during the 1970 - 74 period and helped produce the group's first two LPs.)
In creating The Portsmouth Sinfonia Bryars' notion was the ultimate in musical democracy - namely anyone could join the group; no matter what skill level or musical proficiency they might have. The commitment was that you attended the rehearsals and made an effort to actually learn the material, which was initially limited to the most commonly known parts of well known classical pieces. By 1973 the group had grown to roughly 80 members, spanning the range from accomplished performers to totally incompetent.
Signed by the small UK folk-oriented Traditional label, the group debuted with 1974's "The Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Popular Classics". Amazingly this is a great album. Sure, the thought of folks trying to butcher music may not have much appeal to the rank and file listener, but that's not the case here. These folks were apparently really trying to make good music. That's what makes this so much fun. The clash of will, desire and talent makes for an intriguing blend of blown melodies, happenstance and hysterically funny ineptitude. Imagine a room full of folks trying to guess where the melody is ... or just imagine attending your child's first school band performance. Highlights include something resembling "Nutcracker Suite", "William Tell Overture", a root canal-painful "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and drunken stupor stab at "Blue Danube Waltz". Probably as a result of Eno's participation (he produced the set), Columbia Records picked up American distribution. Clearly unsure what to do with the group, Columbia tried to market the set as a comedy album ("Indisputably, the worst orchestra in the world."). Needless to say, their efforts fell on deaf ears ...
Plays the Popular Classics" track listing:
1.) From Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (Grieg) - 3:23
2.) From The Nutcracker Suite (Tschikovsky) - 3:00
3.) 5th Sinfony in C Minor, Op. 67 (Beethoven)
4.) William Tell Overture (Rossini)
1.) Also Sprach Zarathustra Op. 31 (Excerp) (Richard Strauss)
2.) Blue Danube Waltz, Op. 314 (Johann Strauss)
3.) Air from Suite No. 3 in D Minor (J. S. Bach)
4.) Farandole from L`Arlesienne Suite No. 2 (Bizet)
5.) Jupiter from The Planets, Op. 32 (Excerpt) (Holst)
On the other hand, you certainly won't have anything else like it in your collection.
I recommend another source for these recordings: they are on "Dead Parrot Society, The Best of British Comedy." Which includes a version of Monty Python's "Dead Parrot Sketch" which, surprisingly, is not an actual recording of a real person attempting to return a dead parrot to a pet shop. That might tell you something that the first reviewer missed.