Hugo Winterhalter

Eyes of Love

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The two-disc set The Eyes of Love reissues 40 songs from Hugo Winterhalter's 1950-1963 tenure with RCA, during which time he served as the label's musical director, provided orchestral accompaniment for singers such as Eddie Fisher and Don Cornell, and recorded his own instrumental easy listening albums. The Eyes of Love, unlike Taragon's The Very Best of Hugo Winterhalter, is not a hits-oriented package and includes only a few hits, such as "Canadian Sunset" and "Blue Tango." In fact, the two anthologies have only six songs in common, and The Eyes of Love includes one minor chart hit, "Fandango," that Taragon's best-of omits. The Very Best of Hugo Winterhalter also includes a number of vocal recordings, whereas The Eyes of Love is strictly instrumental. The bypassing of Winterhalter's hit singles allows for a focus on album tracks from LPs such as Hugo Winterhalter Goes Continental and Latin Gold, as well as historically significant cuts like "The Coca Cola Company Theme" from Eddie Fisher's radio program. Winterhalter's arrangements are not simply easy listening in the sense that they are not always easygoing -- his dynamic and dramatic charts incorporate a wide variety of instruments and often feature prominent percussion. "Anna," for instance, with its Latin-esque tambourine and electric guitar, almost rocks, and Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5" is boisterous and exotic. The collection demonstrates that Winterhalter's albums, like his singles, encompassed a broad range of styles, but it takes its name from one of Winterhalter's own compositions -- a romantic, string-laden melody that is more in keeping with most people's conception of easy listening music.