Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony
Audio CD / 2016
“As of today a bracing contribution to the second strategy will be available just in-time to provision any wayfaring American family, as well as those staying safely at home: Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony is an outlandish, endlessly inventive production presented by that magician of music for young and old, Dr. Noize … On this latest offering hitting the musical world today, Cullinan’s idiosyncratic constellation of musical personae and poses is backed by a full orchestra of real Bohemians calling itself the City of Prague Philharmonic. Forces of this scope and accomplishment are demanded by the ambitions, indeed the very title of the 2-CD set. This ensemble has its origin as film orchestra some seventy years ago, and on Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony the group, under the deft direction of conductor Kyle Pickett, navigates the tricky tempo changes and literally off-beat humor of Cullinan’s unpredictable music with precision and panache … In order to channel these torrents of creativity into coherent streams of refreshment and pleasure the score must be precisely notated and executed, not just by the Prague symphonists, but by the international stars of the opera stage, soprano Isabel Leonard and baritone Nathan Gunn, who adorn the album. Their participation is testimony to Cullinan’s galvanizing imagination and to his world-class abilities as a popularizing composer and orchestrator.
To describe the diversity of musical styles and concepts visited across this two-hour blockbuster of a show would be a fool’s errand. There are clever quotes from famous symphonies by Beethoven and Mozart and a host of other sources, along with many more didactic moments, in which youthful listeners (and perhaps more than a few more mature ones) are introduced to the various instruments and their taxonomies (woodwinds, strings, etc.): these traditional groupings are enriched by commentary and confusion from various voices from funk saxophone to plaintive Iberian guitar. There are Sondheim-esque ballads of intense yearning and kiddy songs of squealing delight, MoTown winners and Caribbean breezes.”