World Encores (CD review)

Mariss Jansons, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI Classics CDC 7243 5 56676 2 6.

Every so often a major label puts out a collection like this one of short, famous pieces of classical music, perhaps to interest beginners in the field who don't already have six or eight versions of each work. Nevertheless, I found a few new things among the old favorites from Jansons and his Oslo Philharmonic that might make this 1998 release a worthwhile investment even to older collectors.

The theme of the album is world travel, encores from different composers of different nationalities. The program starts with Bernstein's Overture from Candide, then goes on to Tchaikovsky's Pas de deux No. 14 from the Nutcracker, Sibelius's "Valse triste," Bizet's "Farandole," Bach's "Air" from Orchestral Suite No. 3, etc.

Mariss Jansons
A few less-recognizable bits are Kim's "Elegy," Alfven's "Vallflickans Dans," Toyama's "Dance of Celestials," Dinicu's "Hora Staccato," and Chapi's "Prelude." My own favorites, though, were Jansons' softly sweet versions of Grieg's "Morning" and Mascagni's "Intermezzo"; Villa-Lobos's delightful little steam train from Bachianas brasileiras No. 2; Gade's "Tango: Jealousy," an accompaniment to a silent Doug Fairbanks film; and the concluding Zorba suite by Theodorakis.

The recordings are all digital, dating from 1993-97, and the sound is agreeable throughout. It is quite natural in tonal balance and resonant ambiance, with excellent dynamics and a reasonable sense of depth. There is some slight veiling, however, and bass is only moderately deep. In other words, we are more than a few steps removed from front row seats, but the effect is fairly realistic and pleasing in any case.

With twenty items in all and a total time of over seventy-nine minutes, there ought to be something here for everyone, even if the listener may find most of the material familiar.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa