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Odds and Ends - Classics Based on Pop & Ostin Recommends

Classics based on Pop

There have been many attempts to orchestrate pop music and give it a wider audience. I must admit that, in most cases, I have not really liked what I've heard. I mention below a few of those I do like, and one from much longer back (1920s) which "sort of" fits into this category.

Ostin Recommends - some CDs you might enjoy

Beatles Go Baroque

Beatles Concerto Grosso No 1 (in the style of Handel)

1 She Loves You

2 Lady Madonna

3 Fool on the Hill

4 Honey Pie

5 Penny Lane

Beatles Concerto Grosso No 2 (in the style of Vivaldi)

6 A Hard Day's Night

7 Girl

8 And I Love Her

9 Paperback Writer

10 Help


Beatles Concerto Grosso No 3 (in the style of Bach)

11 The Long and Winding Road

12 Eight Days a Week

13 She's Leaving Home

14 We Can Work it Out

15 Hey Jude

16 Yellow Submarine

Beatles Concerto Grosso No 4

17 Here comes the Sun

18 Michelle

19 Goodnight

20 Carry That Weight

Beatles go Baroque

I quite liked this on first hearing. It was track 8, And I Love Her, in the style of Vivaldi. More to the point, it sounded remarkably like part of Spring from The Four Seasons. This album has been cleverly orchestrated and there are some very good "spoofs". It's interesting to try to recognise the classical piece that is being imitated. Through it all you still get to hear some of the Beatles' finest melodies, and can't help but smile at the slightly tongue-in-cheek way it's all been done. Click the links to hear a short sample of tracks 1, 8, 9 and 15.

Naxos 8.990050

Peter Breiner and his Chamber Orchestra


The Queen Symphony

This recording is not just another orchestral arrangement of Queen songs, but rather a symphony written using themes and ideas from some of Queen's music. The whole consists of six movements, each containing themes from such songs as Radio Gaga, The Show Must Go On, Killer Queen, Another One Bites The Dust, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions, We Will Rock You, Save Me and Who Wants To Live Forever. The composer himself states that he has wished to reinvent the music rather than merely orchestrate it. He does not use whole songs, or even whole lines of melody. The result is surprisingly coherent and satisfying. To my ears the 5th movement is the most enjoyable, using material from four of the songs above.

Listen to short sample of 5th movement (beginning)...

Queen Symphony

EMI 724355739520

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Tolga Kashif

Tahiti Trot - Tea for Two

Tea for Two was an immensely popular song written in 1924/5 by Vincent Youmans with lyricist Irving Caesar, for the score for No, No, Nanette, one of the decade's most successful musicals. The show contained several other hits including Too Many Rings Around Rosie, You Can Dance With Any Girl At All, and  I Want To Be Happy. The show was filmed, with modifications to its score, in 1930, 1940, and in 1950 as Tea For Two, starring Doris Day and Gordon MacRae.

In 1928 the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich orchestrated this popular tune in 40 minutes as the result of a bet. (That he couldn't do it in less than 1 hour). The result is charming and witty. And, on the basis that "if you like that you'll like this", you might want to listen to this coupled with some of Shostakovich's lighter music. All good fun. The Jazz Suite label is rather misleading as the music is not jazz at all!


        Jazz Album

Tracks on this CD

Jazz Suites No. 1 and 2, Tahiti Trot (Tea for Two), Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor

Decca 433702-2

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Riccardo Chailly

The Doors Concerto


1 Riders on the Storm

2 The Unknown Soldier

3 Spanish Caravan

4 Love Street

5 Hello, I Love You

6 Light My Fire

7 People are Strange

8 Strange Days

9 The End

Kennedy -  Doors

A reasonable attempt at interpreting some of the songs performed by The Doors. Kennedy plays violin and the arrangements are by Jaz Coleman. I think the quality is uneven on this CD but there are some good moments. The first track is probably the best with track 3 almost as good. Worth a listen.

Click on links above to hear short samples of tracks 1,3 and 6

Decca 467350-2

Nigel Kennedy - Violin

Prague Symphony Orchestra



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