Release Date: 01/01/01
Heart of the Symphony, a questionable compilation from Kado Music in Delray Beach, FL, bears on its cover the extraordinary claim, 'You'll never have to buy another Classical CD,' but after hearing it, listeners may ponder, 'Can we skip this one, too'' This product purports to have 'the most beautiful parts of famous symphonies,' though of its 14 tracks, only two -- by Beethoven and Schubert -- are actual movements from symphonies; the remaining 12 selections are extracted from various other forms, including opera, concerto, and chamber music, though worked up in arrangements for a small studio orchestra and offered without credits, or, more to the point, disclaimers. But concerns over terminology and provenance aside, are the performances any good' The German All Star Studio Orchestra, apparently without a conductor, generally hits the notes and gets through the excerpts with few mishaps, but the ensemble sounds terribly flat, scratchy, and distorted in the recordings, which seem to be taken off of old LPs or 78s and transferred to disc without touchups. The worst reproduction of all comes in the opening portion of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, where the brass and woodwinds especially sound raspy, as if played through a broken speaker; and the closing section of Tchaikovsky's Festival Overture, '1812,' is plainly taken from an old recording with abundant tape hiss and severely compressed sound. Considering its misleading claims, limited selections, and poor production values, Heart of the Symphony should not be a part of any serious collection, and should be used only for playing 'name that tune,' if at all. Blair Sanderson
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