Featuring Music from:-
|Beethoven - Symphony No.
Respighi - Pines of Rome
Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
Shostakovich - Piano Concerto No. 2
Saint-Saëns - Carnival of the
Dukas - The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Elgar - Pomp & Circumstance
Stravinsky Firebird Suite.
Original Film CD Release
When it was first released in 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia was not the initial
success the studio had hoped for. Its original purpose was not only to entertain
but to introduce audiences, especially younger audiences to classical music.
It is to be fervently hoped that Fantasia 2000 will be more successful in
this context because young people have less chance now in a heavily pop
orientated mass media culture to be introduced to more serious music. Music
needs listeners as well as players!
The music on this album is played, for the most part by the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra conducted by James Levine. (Curiously the only non-European work,
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is played by the British Philharmonia Orchestra).
The publicity blurb that came with the album informs that the world premiere
of the film was on Friday December 17 1999 at New York's Carnegie Hall with
Levine conducting a synchronised live performance with the film. This event
was repeated at London's Albert Hall, and in Paris and Tokyo before a special
final US performance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Millennium New Year's
Eve. The film then began a four-month engagement in IMAX theatres around
the world before its general release in June.
The music includes adaptations of music from the works listed at the head
of this review. A brief 3-minute extract from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
with the famous fate motif opens the film with this music used "
experimentation in moving colour and form that advances on the surrealistic
and the impressionistic." An adaptation of Ottorino Respighi's Pines of
Rome shorn of its Catacomb Pines movement, and that nightingale in the
Janiculum movement, is the unlikely backing for visuals of a school of cavorting,
flying whales. Rhapsody in Blue seems to have a skating timpanist
playing in an animated feature "set against the backdrop of 1930s Manhattan."
Shostakovich's Adagio movement of his Piano Concerto No. 2 is a lively
accompaniment to Hans Christian Anderson's story 'The Steadfast tin Soldier
who is bewitched by a flirty ballerina and threatened by the villainous
Jack-in-the-box. The jolly finale of Saint-Saëns' Carnival of
the Animals, is danced to by a flock of frolicking flamingos. It seems
Micky Mouse is asked to encore his Sorcerer's Apprentice act from
the original film - frantic broomsticks and water pails and all. Elgar's
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 'Land of Hope and Glory' (celebrated by
our American visitors as a favourite Graduation March) accompanies Donald
Duck's adventures (with Daisy Duck) aboard Noah's Ark when confronted by
torrents of water on the rampage. This special arrangement includes bits
(or should I say splashes) of material from Elgar's 2nd,
3rd and 4th Pomp and Circumstance Marches for good
measure. But the climax of the cartoon has a wordless choir, singing the
cartoon's 'Land of Hope and Glory', strongly reinforced by the soaring ah
ahhs of Kathleen Battle. Considering how Elgar came to detest the overexposure
and misuse of his P&C No. 1, I think he would have quite enjoyed this
gentle lampooning. But strictly not for the purists and those lacking a sense
of humour. Finally, the excitement of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite "combines
a natural design approach with an art nouveau, fairy-tale look to the animation
that soars into unhindered imaginative flight as it flows across the screen"
- or so says the notes.
Good luck to Fantasia 2000 and may we hope it puts many young people
on the road to loving good music
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