Cincinnati Pops Orchestra / Erich Kunzel

Sousa: Marches, Polkas & Americana

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This collection of works by John Philip Sousa and others, originally recorded for the old Vox Music Group in 1988, has had a long life in reissues, and it's easy to see the appeal. Despite a few quirks, it remains a strong choice for basic libraries of musical Americana and even for a starter Sousa album. This is true despite the omission of several major Sousa march hits, or perhaps even because of this omission, for the album offers variety that makes it more listenable than competitors that offer 75 minutes of marches. There is a selection of non-march works by Sousa (who would have been glad to see it), including pieces that show how he tried, with some success, to keep up with trends. The Gliding Girl Tango, written in 1912, is more an impression of the tango than an actual dance, but Sousa's popular instincts extended even into the era of jazz dance; hear the rather unfamiliar Peaches & Cream foxtrot (track 7) from 1923. Works by other composers similiarly mix evergreen hits (Julius Fucik's Entry of the Gladiators, aka, the Circus March) with more novel works like Victor Herbert's early and rather obvious but thoroughly effective American Fantasia. The Cincinnati Pops under Erich Kunzel was at times recorded by more sophisticated engineers than those heard here, but they have rarely played with a more perfect combination of enthusiasm and discipline. The only blemishes involve some curious phrasing decisions on Kunzel's part (listen to the odd, mannered accents in The Stars and Stripes Forever), but these are few. Booklet notes are in English only; the remastered reissue on the Alto/Musical Concepts label in 2010 provided new and entertaining ones.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:31
2 5:49
3 3:45
4 2:40
5 4:38
6 2:27
7 3:30
8 2:39
9 5:02
El Capitan
10 3:09
11 3:57
12 2:40
13 2:43
14 4:22
Girl Crazy
15 5:44
16 6:56
17 9:54
blue highlight denotes track pick