Erich Kunzel

Trumpet Spectacular

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Though listed as an Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops album, the focal point of attention is jazzman Doc Severinsen trying his hand at some classical repertoire. Severinsen's virtuosity and musicality frequently were overlooked when he was still riding high as leader of the Tonight Show Orchestra, so this was a potent reminder of his versatility. Here Severinsen proves to be a disciplined classical player, able to scale even such technical minefields as "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" (if just barely!) with assurance, and he keeps his showmanlike instincts under wraps most of the time. But there are passages in pieces like "Napoli," the lengthy "Carmen Fantasy," and, perhaps inappropriately, J.S. Bach's "Chaconne" where he cuts just a bit loose and listeners sense the flamboyant Severinsen of TV fame. As is often the case when a trumpeter meets the symphony, all but two of the works heard here are arrangements or transcriptions of pieces for other instruments -- including well-known operatic excerpts by Rossini, Bizet, and Puccini. One of the two trumpet/orchestra pieces, Jeremiah Clarke's famous "The Prince of Denmark March" (or "Trumpet Voluntary"), is heard in a big orchestra/organ arrangement, leaving Leroy Anderson's lovable, durable "A Trumpeter's Lullaby" as the only completely original work for trumpet and orchestra on the disc. Kunzel himself contributes the functionary charts to Rossini's "Largo Al Factotum" and "La Danza," Schumann's "Traumerei," and Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The music here might be difficult for the trumpeter, but not for the "pops" audience, who should easily lap up the pretty tunes and occasional bravura.

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