Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Ulrich Herkenhoff & Frank Zacher
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The music of film is one area that might be overlooked when it comes to classical music, but this album by the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester might make one reconsider. The CD features pieces from well-known American and European films such as The Lord of the Rings and Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie) with pan flute soloist Ulrich Herkenhoff, and perfectly captures the culture, spirit, and mood of each piece. In Dreams is absolutely epic, majestic in its scope, while Ladies in Lavender sounds appropriately pastoral, pure, and sweet. The Kammerorchester show its versatility without ever losing a firm grasp on excellent technique and strong musicality, with each phrase carefully shaped. This is especially evident in The Godfather pieces, which are absolutely lyrical and expressive. Could it be an album of absolute perfection? Some might argue that the pan flute is an acquired taste, and the arrangements for pieces where it is the solo instrument sound downright corny or schmaltzy. The Morricone pieces, while played beautifully by both the Kammerorchester and Herkenhoff, are an example of this rather distasteful arrangement, and the crisp edginess that one expects from the original version of The Pink Panther is missing. It is instead limp and maudlin. This is in no way a reflection on the soloist, nor on the other pieces in which the pan flute is quite fitting. May it be uses the pan flute well (it certainly creates a suitable mood for a scene in The Lord of the Rings), as does The Age of Innocence, where it feels just right in a piece that sounds like early music. The "Convento di Sant'Anna" is like a throwback to a Bach fugue, but unfortunately it sounds too processed, as though the piano were synthesized. However, if one can look past these seeming aberrations, there is a lot of good music here. The bonus track of Elise goes to Hollywood alone is perhaps worth the price of the album: a brilliant variation on Für Elise, it morphs into various film pieces, most notably Psycho. It is a showcase for the strings of the Kammerorchester, leaving one with the impression that this is a talented group of musicians that has made classical music very accessible., Rovi