Four CDs of P.D.Q. Bach probably seem like overkill -- anyone who has enjoyed Peter Schickele's "P.D.Q. Bach" performances probably knows that a little goes a long way. The problem is that the extant individual P.D.Q. Bach releases on Vanguard (like those by Joan Baez, Ian & Sylvia, et al.) were done early in the CD era and don't sound terribly good. This box, however, was done much more recently and it contains most of Schickele's best bits, the classic original albums An Evening With P.D.Q. Bach, An Hysteric Return, P.D.Q. Bach on the Air, The Stoned Guest, and The Intimate P.D.Q. Bach. The material on these albums was remarkably fresh in its time and still holds up reasonably well; as was always the case, the more one knows about classical music, the better one gets the joke and the longer the joke is sustained. There is one exception: "New Horizons in Music Appreciation," which always had universal appeal; it works exceptionally well not only because it is a delightful satire of the conventions of music appreciation classes, but also of television and radio sportscasting -- one needn't ever have heard a note of classical music to appreciate that particular track, but a few minutes of watching Monday Night Football in one's lifetime (as well as even a slight knowledge of Bob & Ray's work) wouldn't hurt. This package is not only reasonably priced as a compilation of material that, if bought separately, would cost about $10 more, but it also has new wraparounds dealing with the conversion to CDs that are pretty funny in their own right, plus fresh annotation on Schickele's career and the pieces themselves. The only drawback is that, even with the fresh remastering, there are a few too many variations in volume on the low side, although that can be adjusted. It's better audio than the individual CDs, but not as clean or sharp as it should be. The booklet is nicely informative and well-illustrated (complete with the Bach family tree extended to include this "descendant") and incorporates art from the original albums (it's great to have the diagram of the instrument called the pandemonium, "the loudest instrument ever created").
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Dreaded P.D.Q. Bach Collection, Vol. 1 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
What can I say? These attempts to poke fun at classical music and aficionados of the genre are silly, puerile, well-informed, beloved, and utterly hilarious. With a style of humor that is something like a cross between Garrison Keillor, Victor Borge and Monty Python, ¿Professor¿ Peter Schickele has been perpetrating the P.D.Q. Bach phenomenon since 1959. ¿Researching¿ and sometimes even dressing up as the alleged ¿last and least¿ of Johann Sebastian Bach¿s many children, Schickele has composed, conducted and performed send-ups of various composers and musical styles. This four CD set compiles some the best (or should I say ¿worst¿?) of his efforts. Included are ¿The O.K. Chorale¿, ¿The Unbegun Symphony¿, ¿My Bonnie Lass, She Smelleth¿, ¿The Seasonings¿, ¿Schleptet in E flat minor¿, ¿Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments¿, ¿Concerto for Horn and Hardart¿, and my two personal favorites: ¿Beethoven¿s Fifth Symphony¿ (with commentary by sports analysts discussing the ¿competition¿ between the conductor and the orchestra) and the hilarious cantata ¿Iphigenia in Brooklyn¿. I can remember my father rolling on the floor in hysterics upon first hearing ¿Iphigenia¿, and anyone who is familiar with the Baroque oratorio style of such ubiquitous works as Handel¿s ¿Messiah¿ or J.S. Bach¿s cantatas will undoubtedly howl too at all the ¿in jokes¿. If you¿re serious about Baroque or classical music, do yourself a favor--let your hair down, get un-serious, and listen to these CDs every once in a while. And may every genre of music be fortunate enough to have a ¿P.D.Q. Bach¿ invented for it!