André Kostelanetz & His Orchestra

Stereo Wonderland of Golden Hits

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The common knock against Andre Kostelanetz is that the conductor's myriad recordings are virtually interchangeable, yet ask most music buffs to recommend or even name a Kostelanetz LP, and the answer is likely to be Stereo Wonderland of Golden Hits. Which begs a question -- why? What makes this particular album the go-to release in a catalog teeming with dozens of titles? It could be its digital-era longevity: It's one of the few Kostelanetz titles reissued as a standalone CD. It could also be its cover: with her flowing strawberry-blonde mane, piercing blue eyes, and canary-yellow sweater, the model seems to capture a kind of innocence lost in the immediate wake of the album's 1963 release and the subsequent assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Or most likely, it's the album's sound -- Kostelanetz's mastery of stereo recording was by this point absolute, and his renditions of contemporary favorites like "The Days of Wine and Roses," "Desafinado," and "Moon River" pour from the speakers with the thickness, richness, and sweetness of cake batter. Either way, it's definitely the entry point for the Kostelanetz canon, and more than likely the only record of his you'll ever need.

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