The Best of the John Wilson Orchestra

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conducted by John Wilson
Warner Classics 9029555123 (123:00)

Although he is now a big name in classical circles, I am guessing that for John Wilson our kind of music is still his first love. This is the charismatic conductor in lighter mode. His 70-piece orchestra, with its big band element, specialising in numbers from the golden years of Hollywood and Broadway musicals, has been wowing BBC Proms audiences every year since 2009 and must be one of – if not the best – orchestras of its kind in the world.

Here are 26 tracks taken from previously released albums, and two special bonus tracks from ‘Gershwin in Hollywood’: live performances at the Royal Albert Hall released on CD for the first time. Among the songs on this double album you will find such as The Trolley Song, Singin’ in the Rain, Stranger in Paradise, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Steppin’ Out with My Baby, Well, Did You Evah?, From This Moment On, I Got Rhythm, S’Wonderful, The Man I Love, and Someone to Watch Over Me.

Participating vocalists are Seth Macfarlane, Curtis Stigars, Joyce DiDonato, Kim Criswell, Matt Ford, Anna-Jane Casey, Sierra Boggess, Louise Dearman and the Maida Vale Singers.

Good as they are, your reviewer would have preferred more orchestra-only items like MGM Jubilee Overture, Barn Dance (from ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’), The Carousel Waltz, and New York Rhapsodywith piano soloist Ian Buckle. Many of you reading this probably may have JWO albums in your collection. If not, you’re missing a treat and this compilation will admirably fill the gap.

© Peter Burt 2018

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