Liberace

Songs My Mother Taught Me

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Liberace utilizes the Antonin Dvorák composition "Songs My Mother Taught Me" as the first track of his album of the same name on the Hamilton label, a Dot Records subsidiary. Holding a picture of his mom on the Baldwin piano -- next to the candelabra, of course -- it's an elegant experience with the pianist seemingly performing solo before arranger/conductor Gordon Robinson's strings come in as if from out of nowhere. Produced by Tom Mack, known for his work on Francis Lai's 1971 hit "Love Story" along with recordings by Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin, and others, the album consists of fine piano playing complemented by Robinson's strings, which make the affair sound at times like a film soundtrack, especially on the traditional "Londonderry Air." The pianist playfully covers Strauss' "Tritsch Tratsch Polka," gives the listener a studied take on Manuel Ponce's "Estrellita," and puts his unique spirit on material by Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, and Chopin. The studio album has a more serious tone than his live show, the artist in a modest (for him) red jacket on the cover along with that candelabra and family photograph. The traditional "La Paloma" plays like an outtake from Man of la Mancha while the music exudes a classiness latter-day fans of Ferrante & Teicher and Esquivel find so appealing. It's relatively short with 25 minutes and 25 seconds of music (roughly 12 minutes a side), but is still an entertaining mix.

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