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Classical Beatles
The Songs of Lennon & McCartney & George Harrison*
CD 1
1. Yesterday [2:31]
2. She’s Leaving Home [2:57]
3. A Hard Day’s Night [3:51]
4. Penny Lane [2:35]
5. All You Need is Love [3:36]
6. Hey Jude [3:11]
7. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da [3:45]
8. Let it Be [5:27]
9. Girl [3:23]
10. Ticket to Ride [3:19]
11. Here Comes the Sun* [2:15]
12. Paperback Writer [2:49]
13. Honey Pie [2:37]
14. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer [2:38]
15. Lady Madonna [3:33]
16. Michelle [2:59]
17. Day Tripper [2:19]
18. Fool on the Hill [5:11]
19. Got to Get You into My Life [2:49]
Beatle Cracker Suite (arr. Wilkinson)
20. I. From Me to You [1:06]
21. II. Can’t Buy Me Love [1:02]
22. III. She Loves You [1:01]
23. IV. Help! [1:17]
24. V. It’s For You [1:54]
25. VI. Ticket to Ride [1:16]
26. VII. All My Loving [3:09]
CD 2
1. For No One / Blackbird [4:33]
2. Eight Days a Week [2:08]
3. And I Love Her [2:55]
4. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds [2:27]
5. Eleanor Rigby [3:03]
6. A Hard Day’s Night [4:09]
7. Can’t Buy Me Love [1:13]
8. Here, There and Everywhere [3:15]
9. Fool on the Hill [4:53]
10. Yellow Submarine [1:44]
11. I Want to Hold Your Hand [1:53]
12. The Long and Winding Road [5:59]
13. Help! [2:28]
14. We Can Work it Out [2:01]
15. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away [4:09]
16. Back in the USSR [2:56]
The Beatles Concerto (arr. Rutter)
17. I. Maestoso – Allegro moderato [8:03]
(She Loves You – Eleanor Rigby – Yesterday – All My Loving – Hey Jude)
18. II. Andante espressivo [7:39]
(Here, There and Everywhere – Something*)
19. III. Presto [7:57]
(Can’t Buy Me Love – The Long and Winding Road)
The King’s Singers (CD 1: 1, 3, 7, 9, 13, 19; CD 2: 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 16);
Baroque Chamber Orchestra/Richard Edlinger (CD 1: 4, 12; CD 2: 2, 10, 14);
Manuel Barrueco (guitar) CD 1: 2 (with David Tannenbaum, guitar), 6; CD 2: 4, 8, 12)
Manuel Barrueco (guitar), London Symphony Orchestra/Jeremy Lubbock (CD 1: 10; CD 2: 8, 12, 15)
Vienna Boys’ Choir, Instrumental Ensemble (CD 1: 5)
Lesley Garrett (soprano) , Zoe Mather (piano), Jonathan Harvey (oboe), String Ensemble / Philip Ellis (CD 1: 8)
Lesley Garrett (soprano), Orchestra / Sir George Martin (CD 2: 1)
Kindred Spirits, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Nemcova (CD 1: 11)
Rostal & Schaefer (piano duo), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Ron Goodwin (CD 1: 14, 18; CD 2: 6, 17-19)
The Swingle Singers (CD 1: 15, 17; CD 2: 9)
Xuefei Yang (guitar) (CD 1: 16)
Arthur Wilkinson Orchestra (CD 1: 20-26)
rec. 1966 – 2007
[73:14 + 73:58]


Experience Classicsonline

It may sound irreverent but I have always preferred the Beatles song book in sundry cover versions. I eventually bought a couple of LP compilations with their best known songs in original recordings but long before that, as early as the mid-1960s when they were still active, I acquired several other versions, mostly instrumental. I especially remember an orchestral version of Michelle with the French conductor and arranger Paul Mauriat, whose gimmick was a prominent harpsichord embedded in a lush string sound. It wasn’t exactly a baroque style version, even though the harpsichord leads the thoughts in that direction, but it seems that some of their melodies sound quite comfortable in baroque garb. A decade ago Naxos issued a disc entitled ‘Beatles go Baroque’ with 18th century style arrangements by Peter Breiner.

On the present highly entertaining compilation we are treated to five numbers in the same pasticcio style. They are cleverly done and played with no mean period bounce, even though they are performed on modern instruments. Penny Lane (CD 1 tr. 4) is one of the best, but also Paperback Writer is a winner with its rustic Vivaldi in ¾-time seemingly drawn from some hitherto unknown fifth season. We Can Work it Out is a movement from a flute concerto.

There are other pastiches as well. Arthur Wilkinson compiled his highly inventive Beatle Cracker Suite as early as 1966 and for some reason set the seven short movements in accordance with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Can’t Buy Me Love, for instance, is scored exactly à la Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy and the whole suite is ideal for musical quizzes: Who wrote this? Also the Rostal & Schaefer piano duo, in recordings from 1979 with Ron Goodwin and the RLPO, are on imitative mood. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in a real knock-out version, harks back on the early 20th century with some Scott Joplin style piano and the typical tuba bass. Fool on the Hill takes us to the cinema in a mix of Maurice Jarre’s award-winning Doctor Zhivago and Michael Nyman’s The Piano. The latter score was of course written almost fifteen years after this arrangement, so the arranger, I suppose ‘Rutter’ stands for John Rutter, was undoubtedly far-seeing.

The eminent guitarist Manuel Barrueco is frequently under fire on this set, as solo player, as duettist and as soloist with orchestra and it is of special interest to note that some of the arrangements are by so prominent musicians as Takemitsu and Leo Brouwer. The guitar solos are certainly among the finest interpretations here, including also Xuefei Yang’s sensitive playing of Michelle.

Of the vocal contributions Lesley Garrett is restrained and holds back her operatic voice in two lyrical performances. The legendary Sir George Martin, who produced practically all of the Beatles’ records, is arranger as well as conductor of For No One / Blackbird. The Vienna Boys’ Choir sing All You Need is Love with their customary perfection and elegance but are perhaps too well-behaved. Perfection and elegance but also thrusting intensity and rhythmic vitality are the hallmarks of The Swingle Singers and I wouldn’t have complained if they had been represented with another couple of titles.

But those who dominate the discs, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, are the superior Kings’ Singers. They perform twelve songs and each and everyone is a gem. They open the 2½ -hour traversal of the Beatles Song Book with a marvellous Yesterday and then follows a string of pearls, interspersed among the other items. Let me just mention a few: The fine arrangement, with a lovely introduction, of Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da – what a swinger! Honey Pie, sung with eminent precision and musicianship, catching to perfection the sweet humming-bird sound of Disney. And on CD 2 impregnable versions of Eleanor Rigby, Can’t Buy Me Love, I Want to Hold Your Hand and Help! just to round off, before The Beatles Concerto, with a lovely Georgia On My Mind. But that, surely isn’t the Beatles, it’s Hoagy Carmichael! Easy! It’s just the intro, then they seamlessly slides over to Back in the USSR. Superb again!

The concerto, a full-size piano concerto in three movements based on nine Beatles songs, arranged by Rutter, is grandly romantic and slightly overblown but superb of its kind. My wife and I had a field-day when we sat through this comprehensive and truly entertaining programme. To diehard Beatles fans I suppose nothing but the original recordings with the four Liverpudlians will do. But to those who love their music but are less enticed by their performances the present compilation is a find. There should be something for everyone here – except those with long ears.

Göran Forsling 




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