Arthur Fiedler spent the last decade of his career with the Boston Pops signed to Deutsche Grammophon, resulting in some of the best-sounding records of his career. Much of that output was more on the "pops" than the classical side of his repertory, and this CD assembles the highlights of his theater music recordings. The sound glistens throughout, in what can only be called audiophile-quality splendor -- the Deutsche Grammophon masters have held up beautifully and have been elegantly digitized for this double-CD set. As to the music itself, how one receives Disc One will depend upon the listener's tolerance for medleys from Broadway and off-Broadway shows (and Disney
movies) of the period (The Fantasticks
, which opens the set, was still running at the time and, indeed, starting to attract attention with the length of its run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse, which ultimately stretched out to 41 years). More of Disc Two is given over to film music -- with a few detours into Stephen Sondheim
territory, among other theatrical repertory -- and will probably be more accessible to listeners. It also closes out with the main themes from Jaws
and Star Wars
by John Williams
(Fiedler's successor leading the Pops). These were also among the last recordings that Fiedler did. The set is well-annotated and the entire production is first-rate.