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Mega Movies by Erich Kunzel

Tracksounds Rating = 8/10

Mega Movies by Erich Kunzel

Conducted by Erich Kunzel
Performed by The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Released by Telarc Records-May 23, 2000

Track Title Time Rating Kunzel and Co. Go Big, Again!
by Christopher Coleman

One of the most successful Conductor/ Orchestra marriages has been that of Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.  This talented pairing has been churning out great music for over 20 years now.

Over the years as they racked up awards such as the MacDowell Medal, The Sony Tiffany Walkman Award, the Grand Prix Du Disque Award (1989), and Billboard's Classical Crossover Artist of the Year Awards each year from 1997 to 1991.  All the while and since, Kunzel and company have brought film music fans some classic releases such as:  The Great Fantasy Adventure Album, Symphonic Star Trek, and The Big Picture.

Following the successful productions of such film music compilations, comes Mega Movies.   The Telarc disc covers some of the best moments of the late Nineties from some of Hollywood's most beloved film music composers: John Williams (1 track), Jerry Goldsmith (3 tracks), and James Horner (3 tracks)...just to name a few.

A couple trademarks established by Telarc, Kunzel, and these albums' producers, have been the high quality recording and additional sound effect tracks.  Mega Movies continues both of these traditions.

One thing must be made clear right from the start.  Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops have provided some of the best performances of certain well known movie themes for years, outside of the original performances themselves.  While they are, for the most part, very good, they are certainly not identical performances to the originals.  The most glaring difference for nearly all of the tracks on Mega Movies is the lack of brightness in the performances.  It is very apparent right from the first track, The Sand Volcano, from The Mummy (Jerry Goldsmith).  Goldsmith's searing brass is no where to be found and this piece.  Many of the following tracks exhibit this as well, The Mask of Zorro and Air Force one.  These tracks really lose a certain "edge" as a result.  

At the same time, as far as your little subwoofer is concerned, well, be prepared!  These tracks rumble with a vengeance and are sure to attract the attention from your neighbors!  Add to this, the sometimes intrusive effects tracks, and you truly have to man your remote control's volume adjustments or suffer the evicting consequences!

There are a number of small  surprises spread throughout this CD. The Main Title from The Mask of Zorro contains an interesting interpretation with violin solo, just past the mid-way point of the track,  before building back into the full bombastic fanfare. 

The Star Wars: The Phantom Menace montage features a nearly flawless arrangement of the Main Titles and The Flag Parade.  On the other hand, what is disappointing, in one sense, is that the most memorable piece, Duel of the Fates, is neglected.  

One sure gem of the release is an all instrumental perfomance from the hit Prince of Egypt score.  When You Believe co-written by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz receives a dramatic orchestral performance and is a true delight. 

After a couple years passing, a new arrangement of the more than infamous music from James Horner's Titanic is even somewhat welcome, but this version does not compare with other performances such as those found on compilations by Varese Sarabande, and Silva Screen Records, or even the follow up release, Back to Titanic.

Where The Cincinnati Pops seem to struggle most is in reproducing the awe and grandeur of a Media Venture's piece as exhibited in End Title from The Rock and the Main Title from Armageddon here, and earlier in Crimson Tide from The Big Picture release.  The percussions are unfortunatley much to loud and distracting, but this constitutes the largest "flaw" of the release.

What Erich Kunzel and The Cincinnati Pops bring to the seasoned film music fan is yet another compilations of some of the best musical themes to come out of Hollywood in the last few years - all with fresh performances that don't merely parrot the original but show some artistic flare in their arrangement and performances.  What a release like Mega Movies really does, is provide a premium opportunity for those who are dabbling in film music appreciation to grab a CD that gives them an great introduction to the work of some of Hollywood's best composers.

1 The Mummy 4:08 ***
2 Don't Mess with "Z" (effect) 0:15 **
3 Main Title (The Mask of Zorro) 4:18 ****
4 Main Title/ The Parachutes (Air Force One) 4:41 ****
5 Chopper Flyby (effect) 0:14 **
6 End Title (The Rock) 4:52 ***
7 End Credits (Contact) 3:58 ***
8  Dedication and Windsong (Mighty Joe Young) 5:29 ***
9 Day at the Races (effect) 1:06 *
10 Main Title/ The Flag Parade (Star Wars:  The Phantom Menace) 4:54 ***
11 Badge of Honor/ L.A. Confidential  (L.A. Confidential) 2:27 ***
12 When You Believe (The Prince of Egypt) 5:21 ****
13 What's That Hum?  0:44 **
14 Threnody in X 2:58 *
15 The Time of Your Life (A Bug's Life) 4:06 ***
16 Main Title (Elizabeth) 5:34 ***
17 A Stroll in New York City (effect) 1:35 **
18 Main Title  (Godzilla) 1:35 ***
19 Main Title (Shakespeare in Love) 3:23 ****
20 Iceberg! (effect) 0:42 **
22 Back to Titanic (Titanic) 4:53 ***
22 Main Title (Armageddon) 3:37 **
  Total Playing Time 73:34    




Music Selection


CD Length


Track Order




Final Score

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Erich Kunzel

Mega Movies by Erich Kunzel

 Sound Clips

  Main Title (The Mask of Zorro) 

  End Title (The Rock) 


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Mega Movies by Erich Kunzel


All artwork from Mega Movies is exclusive property of Telarc Records (c) 2000.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.


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