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Classical Beatles


Release Date: 11/03/2009 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 16784   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Paul McCartneyJohn LennonToru TakemitsuGeorge Harrison,   ... 
Performer:  Manuel BarruecoDavid TanenbaumLesley GarrettXuefei Yang
Conductor:  Richard EdlingerMiriam NemcovaGeorge MartinRon Goodwin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's SingersBaroque Chamber OrchestraVienna Boys' Choir,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It may sound irreverent but I have always preferred the Beatles song book in sundry cover versions. I eventually bought a couple of LP compilations with their best known songs in original recordings but long before that, as early as the mid-1960s when they were still active, I acquired several other versions, mostly instrumental. I especially remember an orchestral version of Michelle with the French conductor and arranger Paul Mauriat, whose gimmick was a prominent harpsichord embedded in a lush string sound. It wasn’t exactly a baroque style version, even though the harpsichord leads the thoughts in that direction, but it seems that some of their melodies sound quite comfortable in baroque garb. A decade ago Naxos issued a disc entitled Read more ‘Beatles go Baroque’ with 18th century style arrangements by Peter Breiner.

On the present highly entertaining compilation we are treated to five numbers in the same pasticcio style. They are cleverly done and played with no mean period bounce, even though they are performed on modern instruments. Penny Lane (CD 1 tr. 4) is one of the best, but also Paperback Writer is a winner with its rustic Vivaldi in ¾-time seemingly drawn from some hitherto unknown fifth season. We Can Work it Out is a movement from a flute concerto.

There are other pastiches as well. Arthur Wilkinson compiled his highly inventive Beatle Cracker Suite as early as 1966 and for some reason set the seven short movements in accordance with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Can’t Buy Me Love, for instance, is scored exactly à la Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy and the whole suite is ideal for musical quizzes: Who wrote this? Also the Rostal & Schaefer piano duo, in recordings from 1979 with Ron Goodwin and the RLPO, are on imitative mood. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in a real knock-out version, harks back on the early 20th century with some Scott Joplin style piano and the typical tuba bass. Fool on the Hill takes us to the cinema in a mix of Maurice Jarre’s award-winning Doctor Zhivago and Michael Nyman’s The Piano. The latter score was of course written almost fifteen years after this arrangement, so the arranger, I suppose ‘Rutter’ stands for John Rutter, was undoubtedly far-seeing.

The eminent guitarist Manuel Barrueco is frequently under fire on this set, as solo player, as duettist and as soloist with orchestra and it is of special interest to note that some of the arrangements are by so prominent musicians as Takemitsu and Leo Brouwer. The guitar solos are certainly among the finest interpretations here, including also Xuefei Yang’s sensitive playing of Michelle.

Of the vocal contributions Lesley Garrett is restrained and holds back her operatic voice in two lyrical performances. The legendary Sir George Martin, who produced practically all of the Beatles’ records, is arranger as well as conductor of For No One / Blackbird. The Vienna Boys’ Choir sing All You Need is Love with their customary perfection and elegance but are perhaps too well-behaved. Perfection and elegance but also thrusting intensity and rhythmic vitality are the hallmarks of The Swingle Singers and I wouldn’t have complained if they had been represented with another couple of titles.

But those who dominate the discs, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, are the superior Kings’ Singers. They perform twelve songs and each and everyone is a gem. They open the 2½ -hour traversal of the Beatles Song Book with a marvellous Yesterday and then follows a string of pearls, interspersed among the other items. Let me just mention a few: The fine arrangement, with a lovely introduction, of Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da – what a swinger! Honey Pie, sung with eminent precision and musicianship, catching to perfection the sweet humming-bird sound of Disney. And on CD 2 impregnable versions of Eleanor Rigby, Can’t Buy Me Love, I Want to Hold Your Hand and Help! just to round off, before The Beatles Concerto, with a lovely Georgia On My Mind. But that, surely isn’t the Beatles, it’s Hoagy Carmichael! Easy! It’s just the intro, then they seamlessly slides over to Back in the USSR. Superb again!

The concerto, a full-size piano concerto in three movements based on nine Beatles songs, arranged by Rutter, is grandly romantic and slightly overblown but superb of its kind. My wife and I had a field-day when we sat through this comprehensive and truly entertaining programme. To diehard Beatles fans I suppose nothing but the original recordings with the four Liverpudlians will do. But to those who love their music but are less enticed by their performances the present compilation is a find. There should be something for everyone here – except those with long ears.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Yesterday by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1965; England 
2. She's Leaving Home by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar), David Tanenbaum (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1967; England 
3. A Hard Day's Night by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; England 
4. Penny Lane by Paul McCartney
Conductor:  Richard Edlinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1967; England 
5. All You Need is Love by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Boys' Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1967; England 
6. Songs (12) for Guitar: Hey Jude by Toru Takemitsu
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Japan 
7. Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; England 
8. Let It Be by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Lesley Garrett (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1969; England 
9. Girl by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1965; England 
10. Ticket to Ride by John Lennon
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1965; England 
Notes: Arranger: Leo Brouwer. 
11. Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison
Conductor:  Miriam Nemcova
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,  Kindred Spirits
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1969; England 
12. Paperback Writer by Paul McCartney
Conductor:  Richard Edlinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966 
13. Honey Pie by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1968; England 
14. Maxwell's Silver Hammer by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rostal & Schaefer Piano Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1969; England 
15. Lady Madonna by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1968; England 
16. Songs (12) for Guitar: Michelle by Toru Takemitsu
Performer:  Xuefei Yang (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Japan 
17. Day Tripper by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1965; England 
18. Fool on the Hill by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rostal & Schaefer Piano Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1967; England 
Notes: Arranger: John Rutter. 
19. Got to Get You into My Life by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; England 
20. Beatlecracker Suite by Arthur Wilkinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arthur Wilkinson Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
21. For No One by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Lesley Garrett (Soprano)
Conductor:  George Martin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; England 
22. Blackbird by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Lesley Garrett (Soprano)
Conductor:  George Martin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1968; England 
23. And I Love Her by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1964; England 
24. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by John Lennon
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
25. Eleanor Rigby by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; England 
26. A Hard Day's Night by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rostal & Schaefer Piano Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; England 
27. Can't Buy Me Love by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1964; England 
28. Here, There and Everywhere by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; England 
Notes: Arranger: Leo Brouwer. 
29. Fool on the Hill by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1967; England 
30. Yellow Submarine by Paul McCartney
Conductor:  Richard Edlinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; England 
31. I Want to Hold Your Hand by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1964; England 
32. Eight Days a Week by John Lennon
Conductor:  Richard Edlinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965 
33. The Long and Winding Road by Paul McCartney
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1969; England 
34. Help! by John Lennon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1965; England 
35. We Can Work It Out by Paul McCartney
Conductor:  Richard Edlinger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baroque Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; England 
36. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away by John Lennon
Performer:  Manuel Barrueco (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1965; England 
37. Back in the USSR by Paul McCartney
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968 
38. Beatles Concerto by John Rutter
Conductor:  Ron Goodwin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; England 

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