(ARTHUR) FIEDLER GREATEST HITS
Arthur Fielder made listening to classical music fun and he was a unique showman who staged concerts that drew entire families to watch and listen. As the colorful, curmudgeonly but cuddly conductor of the world famous Boston Pops symphony orchestra, he not only revitalized music locally, but through his orchestral recordings and TV/radio appearances brought classical music to the masses. Despite the fact that the orchestra played with serious perfection, there was always an air of informality at Fiedler’s concerts.
“Arthur Fiedler: Greatest Hits” has sold over 6 million copies, and it's no wonder. This beautifully remastered RCA LP (now on CD) is a fine collection of familiar melodies that some people don't even realize have classical origins. Those musicians who were fortunate enough to be in his orchestra say that playing under Maestro Fiedler was an invigorating — but challenging — experience. He was a tough, no-nonsense conductor who expected crisp, lyrical and expressive playing. His musical interpretations on this CD of everything from “Sabre Dance” to the delightful “Syncopated Clock” — from “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1” to his love for the Beatles — sets him as the ruler supreme in orchestral pop music.
One fan who first heard Arthur’s recording of “Jalousie” back in the 1940s remarked, “It just stopped me dead in my tracks. Absolutely, sublimely wonderful. Til this very day I still love this recording and I’ve heard many interpretations and none compares.” (The recording of this song sold over a million copies).
It’s hard to believe, but Fiedler, who passed away in 1979, even had singles released on 45 rpm vinyl back in the day, and they were very big sellers. He had the feeling of joy of expression. As conductor of the Boston Pops for half a century he was often on TV, yet retained an air of approachability. In interviews he came across as a wise elder statesman of fine music, which in fact he was. His genial approach and expertly done recordings, made him a superstar. His televised Fourth of July concerts were spectacular to watch and always done with zest and class. There is, on this CD, an extra bit of verve and spark that define music played with joy and expression. There is not a clinker in the bunch.
“Flight of the Bumble Bee” will be fun for even young children to hear. “The William Tell Overture” is exhilarating as played by this crack orchestra. The majesty of royalty comes through on “Pomp And Circumstance,” one of our favorite pieces of classical music. The “Procession of the Nobles” is victorious and gallant; the complexity of “Farandole” is haunting. This is a brilliant compilation of musical excellence.
This recording is uniformly good throughout, with lovely balancing of parts and good stereo spread. Some tracks date from the late 1950s, but all sound fresh and vibrant.
Arthur Fiedler had many different hobbies. He was fascinated by the work of firefighters and would travel in his own vehicle to large fires in and around Boston at any time of the day or night to watch the firefighters battle a blaze. He was even made an “Honorary Captain” with his own fireman’s helmet. The conductor once even helped in the rescue efforts at the tragic Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston in 1942. An avid sailor, he volunteered during the early days of World War II for the Temporary Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard. He was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Gerald Ford.
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