There are two schools of Disney music -- the long, early period of Tin Pan Alley-influenced children's songs that began in the 1930s and culminated around the time of Walt Disney's death in 1966, and the pop/rock/Broadway-drenched scores that started with 1989's The Little Mermaid and still keep on coming. This album, a sequel to the Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops early-period CD A Disney Spectacular, is devoted to the later period -- and the lush, symphonically inflated suites from four Disney animated features do not raise the dubious stature of their scores to another level. Whatever its popular success, The Lion King is a depressing sign of the flagging -- or, perhaps commercially driven-by-necessity -- songwriting skills of Elton John in recent decades. One cliché follows another, which is probably what the suits at Disney wanted. The other scores for Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast come from the team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (with Tim Rice filling in after Ashman's death in Aladdin), for whom contemporary Broadway is generally the guiding style and the inevitable, saccharine "big tune" the ultimate goal. Again, Indiana University's Singing Hoosiers and various soloists join the Pops in song throughout the disc. From the reproduction of the film's logos on the cover onward, Disney's overbearing corporate stamp is all over this album; even the anonymous liner notes are credited (and copyrighted) only to "The Walt Disney Company." For devotees of the Mouse only -- and even they might be better served with the original soundtracks.
The Magical Music of Disney Review
by Richard S. Ginell