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Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops


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I was just wondering what JWFAN as a whole thinks of the Kunzel recordings? I find them to be generally pretty good, some average spots and some which I really really like. I must admit that it was the Kunzel recordings of The Raiders March, The Imperial March, Star Wars Main Title, E.T. Bicycle Chase, Superman that I grew up with as a kid. I still love those particular versions to bits. :P Yes, say what you want about other recordings, but I always miss the huge snare drum hits in The Raiders March and The Imperial March Kunzel imbues his recordings with.

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I recently was on the look-out for a number of Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops albums I've had on my wishlist for ages, until I noticed that four of the albums I really wanted to add to the collection, were al

These are in my collection.

The FANTASY album is one of my earliest soundtrack compilations. A friend brought it to our house in the mid 90s, I subsequently copied it to cassette and listened to it endlessly. The sound effects w

Actually they're pretty good. I like his take on Williams' Spacecamp and Conti's The Right Stuff, also his takes on Termanator 2, Back To The Future and El Cid. The Bond And Beyond Album is good, especially for the TV themes suite featured on it.

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I was just wondering what JWFAN as a whole thinks of the Kunzel recordings? I find them to be generally pretty good, some average spots and some which I really really like. I must admit that it was the Kunzel recordings of The Raiders March, The Imperial March, Star Wars Main Title, E.T. Bicycle Chase, Superman that I grew up with as a kid. I still love those particular versions to bits. :P Yes, say what you want about other recordings, but I always miss the huge snare drum hits in The Raiders March and The Imperial March Kunzel imbues his recordings with.

His version of The Imperial March is energetic and powerful you really get taken into that recording when you listen to it, i hate to say it but its much better than the OST!

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I grew up with extremely well-worn tapes of the Star T racks albums and always loved every second of them.....finesse certainly goes out the wondow on various occasions, but why carp when you have the aforementioned versions of the Star Trek TV theme (I always wanted to play drums for that piece after hearing Kunzel's version!), Imperial March, Superman etc etc...

I do have some problems with their interpretation occasionally.....the Batman Suite was not so good, and I was genuinely disappointed with their version of Holdridge's fantastic opening to "Beastmaster"....a piece that is not heard often enough....

But in general, I very much look forward to their releases....and "Chiller" remains one of my very favourites to this day.....

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As most of us know, Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra have made dozens of albums over the past three decades - most with the esteemed Telarc label. Their repertoire varies from patriotic American to classical - and everything in between.

I own many Kunzel/CPO CDs albums - most are the film score theme compilations, and I enjoy listening to them from time to time. Mr. Kunzel certainly knows what he wants from his players - although I don't always agree with what I hear. The combination of arrangements (with the endings often changed from the original compositions), conducting/performances, and recording/mixing contribute to a cheesy sound. The acoustics of Cincinnati's Music Hall aren't the best, but the Cincinnati-Telarc team (including the producers/engineers) have recently produced some very fine albums with balanced sound. The same cannot be said about the recordings from the late 80s to early 90s, which have excellent clarity but too much "punch" : the too-prominent bass drum and too-closely-miked trumpets. The performers often sound like their trying too prove something. (I like their snare drummer, though.)

Their Superman March would be a reference recording if it were not for the misinterpretation of the the theme from the trumpets. The slurring of the second-to-last note is horrible and nearly ruins the track.

I haven't yet acquired a few of the most recent releases (incl. Swashbucklers and Russian Nights), but I'll get them eventually... on SA-CD, of course. On the recent Great Film Fantasies album, why did Kunzel conduct the first part of the "Star Wars Main Theme" so fast? Why did he omit the opening to Luke and Leia? Kunzel's decision, of course, and I don't like it.

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Their Superman March would be a reference recording if it were not for the misinterpretation of the the theme from the trumpets. The slurring of the second-to-last note is horrible and nearly ruins the track.

Erm what?

Anyway, are Kunzel/Telarc CDs (normal CDs, not SACDs) in the US/Canada/Europe/Australia more expensive than usual? Telarc CDs here cost nearly 50% more than regular releases.

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I think that Erich Kunzel deserves a lot of credit for recording orchestral film music when not many others would have touched it with a barge pole. Back in the late 1980's most soundtrack sections round my manor consisted only of Beverly Hills Cop, More Dirty Dancing and, if you were lucky, one or two Erich Kunzel albums.

Star Tracks II was the first music I ever bought with my own money (or, more correctly, a WH Smith voucher I had been given for my birthday!) and I still listen to it today 20 years later, even though I only have it on cassette (ask your grandparents if you don't know what one of those was).

Kunzel's Henry Mancini album is superb, by the way.

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I might actually have a Star Tracks cassette somewhere in my house. I remember discovering it in the dark corners of my home's storeroom when I was a kid and going wide-eyed like Indy discovering some ancient artifact. I was already a big fan of my uncle's Star Tracks II CD at that point so yea, that cassette was the find of a century to me.

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  • 12 years later...

I recently was on the look-out for a number of Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops albums I've had on my wishlist for ages, until I noticed that four of the albums I really wanted to add to the collection, were all in this budget box set:

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8549114--classic-film-music

No booklets of course, and cardboard sleeves, but great to have these five collected in this box. Contains the following: The Big Picture / Vintage Cinema / Star Tracks / Three Choral Suites (Ben-Hur / Quo Vadis / King of Kings) / The Great Fantasy Adventure Album

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The FANTASY album is one of my earliest soundtrack compilations. A friend brought it to our house in the mid 90s, I subsequently copied it to cassette and listened to it endlessly. The sound effects were a bit annoying, but the performances are phenomenal. Never got the CD, though. I did name an episode of Celluloid Tunes after this album: http://celluloidtunes.no/celluloid-tunes-10-the-great-fantasy-adventure-episode-3rd-international-edition/.

 

Beyond that, all the Kunzels are great. Very "pops", but stellar sound and performance.

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When I started exploring and collecting in the mid-90's, the Cincinnati Pops recordings were the only ones I trusted to buy (aside from the Boston Pops, of course!)  The performances are top-notch (though not necessarily the arrangements they play) and aside from the silly sound effects tracks, I've enjoyed them all.

 

I remember buying a CD by the Orlando Pops, or something like that (forget the exact name), expecting it to be like the Boston or Cincinnati Pops, and oh boy was I shocked... I think it was a CD of Star Trek themes, and it went straight in the trash!  It was all synth, but not even good synth; it sounded like some kid's Casio keyboard.... ugh...

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On 5/1/2021 at 12:33 PM, Bespin said:

Very nice selection!

 

20210501_073209.jpg

I think I have mislaid by copy of the Big Picture, which I remember loving when it came out... seems to be essentially impossible to find now, not even as a digital download, alas.

 

I generally enjoy the Kunzel albums, but the sound effects were always a pretty horrible intrusion. Fortunately I think they were generally on discreet tracks so are easy to programme out/delete from your iTunes library.

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A lot of great albums from Kunzel, but Round-Up and its sequel Happy Trailare probably my favorites.

 

I also am deeply appreciative that he gave us the only commercial recording of a Copland obscurity called "Jubilee Variations" that was written in the mid40s, it was on this album:

 

R-4205565-1408152924-1417.jpeg.jpg

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1 hour ago, Disco Stu said:

A lot of great albums from Kunzel, but Round-Up and its sequel Happy Trailare probably my favorites.

 

I also am deeply appreciative that he gave us the only commercial recording of a Copland obscurity called "Jubilee Variations" that was written in the mid40s, it was on this album:

 

R-4205565-1408152924-1417.jpeg.jpg

 

Ordered!  (a used copy from Amazon, that is!)

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On 5/4/2021 at 9:02 PM, Tom Guernsey said:

I think I have mislaid by copy of the Big Picture, which I remember loving when it came out... seems to be essentially impossible to find now, not even as a digital download, alas.

 

You just have to look beyond that scoundrel Amazon.

 

https://www.europadisc.co.uk/classical/48424/The_Big_Picture.htm

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