Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday March 25, 2020 


"Back when Mickey Mouse was no more than a glint in a young Walt Disney’s eye, someone coined the phrase "the magic of cinema". Rarely has this concept been more vibrantly realised than with the original Fantasia. Much maligned, accused of pretentiousness and a commercial flop, it nevertheless was, and remains, one of the great cinematic celebrations of creativity. (Only bettered, perhaps, by the subsequent Italian production Allegro Non Troppo that simultaneously parodies and surpasses Fantasia.)

Now it’s time to salute the synergy of classical music and animation anew with Fantasia/2000. Though, of course, it can be just as rewarding to listen to the soundtrack alone and let your own imagination – unadulterated by the visions of Disney animators – soar like a flying whale.

Opening with probably the best known four-note phrase in musical history (the first bar of Beethoven’s fifth) and concluding with Stravinsky’s unparalleled Firebird Suite, you don’t need to be a classical music buff to rejoice in the symphonic journey that ranges from Elgar’s quintessentially British Pomp and Circumstance marches to Gershwin’s quintessentially American Rhapsody in Blue – featuring a staggering performance by virtuoso pianist Ralph Grierson.

Paul Dukas’ symphonic poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which accompanied the most famous sequence from the original Fantasia, gets another guernsey and is joined by Respighi’s equally lyrical symphonic poem Pines of Rome and the wonderfully comic finale to Saint-Saens’ The Carnival of the Animals.

The crisp, contemporary production and peerless performances of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra make this a tempting acquisition for even those classical music aficionados well stocked with recordings of this repertoire. But most of all it is recommended to classical music neophytes. Buy Fantasia/2000 and realise once and for all that it can be just as exhilarating to swing an air-baton to Beethoven as it is to play air-guitar to Hendrix."
Brad Green

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TITLE: Fantasia/2000

ID: SK 65995

COMPOSERS: Beethoven, Respighi, Gershwin, Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, Dukas, Elgar, Stravinsky

ORCHESTRAS: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra

CONDUCTOR: James Levine

FEATURED PERFORMERS: Ralph Grierson, Yefim Bronfman, Gail Niwa, Philip L. Sabransky, Kathleen Battle.


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