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Marches in Hi-Fi.

Marches in Hi-Fi. Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra. JVC JM-XR24020.

I read once that Arthur Fiedler had sold more classical albums than any conductor who ever lived. I can imagine that, considering the man lead the Boston Pops Orchestra for something like a half a century. Nevertheless, Fiedler was alway considered something of a lightweight when it came to classical conducting, despite his experience and popularity. I suppose it was the nature of the repertoire he worked with, mostly best-loved light classics like this collection of marches for orchestra.

Fiedler recorded the present album in 1958, and it has been a perennial favorite with music listeners ever since. In fact, one of the drawbacks of the JVC audiophile remastering reviewed here is that it costs twice as much as RCA's "Living Stereo" issue and does not include an additional four marches that were added to the mid-price CD.

Another drawback is that I am still not persuaded by all of the performances on the disc. Fiedler seems at times to be rushing through them at anything but a "march" tempo, as though he were in a hurry to get along with yet another project and be home in time for dinner. Among the better interpretations are those of Verdi's "Grand March" from Aida, Victor Herbert's "March of the Toys" from Babes in Toyland, Sousa's "Semper Fidelis," Robert Morse's "Up the Street," and Kenneth Afford's enduring "Colonel Bogey," featured in the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai. I was less charmed, however, by the conductor's rather prosaic readings of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," Meredith Wilson's "76 Trombones" from The Music Man, Morton Gould's "American Salute," and George and Ira Gershwin's "Strike Up the Band."

The sound has probably been brought up to its best possible specs through the meticulous care of JVC's mastering engineers, and at its best it is quite good. Bass is solid; highs are extended; dynamics are wide. But there isn't a lot of depth to the orchestral field, instruments are sometimes spotlighted and brought up too close, and a touch of congestion crowds into some of the loudest passages. In all, a somewhat mixed bag.
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Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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