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Superstars and Songbooks - Pops By Arrangement

Arthur Fiedler & Boston Pops Orchestra

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Album Review

Arthur Fiedler was so closely associated with RCA Victor for so long — more than three decades, ending at the close of the 1960s — and broke so many sales records while there, that not too many people remember that he spent the last decade of his career leading the Boston Pops signed to Deutsche Grammophon. And while his brand of symphonic pops may seem quaintly out of date in the 21st century, back in the '60s and '70s it mostly sold like nobody's business — record clubs could lure new members using Fiedler's albums as sign-up premiums, and fans would flock to record stores to buy his latest releases. This double-CD set, one of a brace of double-disc reissues of his Deutsche Grammophon library, is a strong reminder of that last part of his legacy, and it is a sonic wonder. And the latter is no surprise, as not only were those original '70s-era recordings of audiophile quality, but this set is a celebration not only of the music at hand, but the arrangers behind it all, and the result is the 21st century equivalent of those late-'50s hi-fi and stereophile recordings (bachelor pad music) that used to wow listeners. The repertory ranges across the '60s and early '70s, with Neil Diamond, Carole King, Paul Simon, John Hartford, Jimmy Webb, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Fogerty, and Burt Bacharach well-represented, as are songs associated with everyone from the Carpenters to the Partridge Family. And it still does — one comes away from hearing these two discs with a huge amount of respect for the musicians and the musicianship behind it all. The booklet lists each arranger, as well as the relevant soloists, and there's also a pair of essays about Fiedler personally and the arrangers that he relied on and their respective roles in his music. And that's all great support material, but the recordings themselves are so good that they tend to eclipse everything around them.

Biography

Born: 18 December 1894 in Boston, MA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Easily the most popular conductor of his era, Arthur Fiedler was classical music's greatest ambassador since Mozart, and also one of those rare conductors whose records were not only successful, but serious profit centers, both for his orchestra and his record labels. Without regard to cultural and economic barriers, he promoted symphonic music for the enjoyment and appreciation of all listeners, programming pieces by everyone from Pachelbel to Gershwin to the Beatles and the Bee Gees. Born December...
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Superstars and Songbooks - Pops By Arrangement, Arthur Fiedler
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