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The Ultimate 2001 Album.

Various artists. DG 289 461 713-2.

Universal Classics' "Ultimate" albums roll merrily along with this compilation of tunes to capture the essence of the twenty-first century. Naturally, it includes music selected by director Stanley Kubrick for his epic sci-fi extravaganza "2001," as well as music that was carried into space by NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Most of the selections are culled from the archives of Deutsche Grammophon, but because of the Universal umbrella others are taken from Decca's library.

The album begins as expected with the famous music that began the film, Richard Strauss's introduction to "Also Sprach Zarathustra." The chosen recording is the same as used in the movie, Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic. The 1959 Decca sound is a little rough compared to the rest of the disc, but there is no denying the thrill of the performance. There follows a series of works represented in the film, although not always by the same conductors. Johann Strauss's "The Blue Danube" is presented twice, just as in the film, but DG have chosen Karajan as their official representative rather than Karl Bohm. I supposed Karajan is still a bigger name than Bohm. Another film selection is Khachaturian's "Adagio" from his Gayane Ballet, done by the composer himself and taken from Decca.

Further works are from NASA's card, including Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria from The Magic Flute, Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto, Stravinsky's "Sacrificial Dances" from The Rite of Spring, and the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, all done by Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. Finally, there are Bach's Prelude in C and Fugue in C, done by Rosalyn Tureck; Bach's "Gavotte and Rondeau" from the Partitia No. 3, done by Nathan Milstein; John Williams' "Battle Scene" from the Star Wars Suite, with Zubin Meta and the LA Philharmonic; Holst's "Mars" from The Planets, with Sir Georg Solti and the London Philharmonic; and Wagner's "Immolation of the Gods" from Gotterdammerung, with Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic.

The sonics vary from piece to piece, but by and large it all holds up reasonably well. The analogue Karajan recordings from DG sound a bit softer and more faded than the others, yet they are still good for their age. I could have done without Karajan's big, old-fashioned Brandenburg, though; otherwise, the collection is pleasing on the ear and might even win a few fans to the classical base.
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Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Words:399
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