Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture with cannons
December 2011 Issue
It's a Hit
Cincinnati Pops conductor
John Morris Russell shares his favorite songs from the ensemble’s recordings
(but not, he stresses, in any particular order!).
When CDs first came out, the Pops and Telarc were WAY ahead of the curve. The Cincinnati Pops Tchaikovsky 1812 was in the forefront of the first wave of CDs available to the general public and was the very first CD I ever purchased. I was particularly attracted to the little black and yellow sticker in the lower right-hand corner of the package: “Caution: Digital cannons; may damage equipment at excessive volume”... needless to say, the warning only emboldened me. I set the volume at “11,” and fast-forwarded the disc to the grand finale, of which I heard only about six seconds when the first cannon shot blew my speakers. ... When I finally got my NEW stereo set up, I set volume at “6.” I have never touched the volume again — the Pops is not about sheer volume, it’s about virtuosic performances and sizzling energy. Listen to the 1812 Overture, Op. 4 below!
“Martian Hop” from Scary Music
Julie Spangler, our brilliant Pops pianist, arranger and vocal coach is the featured “singer” on this one. It is perhaps the strangest and most brilliant vocal performance ever recorded ... you GO girl!!! Listen to "Martian Hop" below!
Just about everything from Big Band Hit Parade
OMG! This recording captures many of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century: Cab Calloway, Doc Severinsen, Ray Brown, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Eddie Daniels, Ed Shaughnessy, Buddy Morrow.... It is an absolute JOY to hear such inspired performances, and DANG the Pops swings! Listen to "Take the 'A' Train" below!
“Magnificent Seven” from Round Up
[This is] the Elmer Bernstein classic, in a thundering performance that gallops past with heart-thumping intensity. I always thought that the brilliance of this recording was part performance and part digital magic — that is, until the first time I heard the Cincinnati Pops LIVE at Blossom Music Center. This band OWNS this repertoire. Listen to "Magnificent Seven" below!
Christmas with the Pops
I am NUTS about holiday music: about 2,000 or so years of music tradition, interpreted in a million different ways, all celebrating peace, joy and love: How great is that? This recording is so special to me, personally, because it inspired me to create “party tapes” of holiday music that I would send out like Christmas cards for the better part of my young adult life. Just about every tape I made had one of the sparkling tracks from this disc. I would have NEVER imagined that one day I would be leading the Pops, and that MY first recording would be a holiday “party tape” for the world! Listen to "Winter Wonderland" below!