Various Artists – Mad About Cartoons

4 out of 5

Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Produced by: Various

A compilation of the various classical music choices that were often synced to some of our most memorable cartoons – mostly Looney Tunes come to mind, 70s and earlier era stuff – which thus essentially equates to “classical’s greatest hits.”

I’m not a classical music fan in the slightest, so I can’t say much about whether or not these particular renditions of the featured pieces are better or worse than others, but, in general, the production values on almost every track are clear.  Some pieces, which may have been recorded live (there’s audience applause after one), are admittedly a little less lush, with percussion mixed way low in the background, but the recordings are still even and certainly showcase the sounds – strings and whatnot – that are likely the cues you recognize.

From a sequencing standpoint, I’d say the album’s first half leans more heavily on instantly recognizable tunes, and ones that you ‘know’ from beginning to end.  The latter half feels a bit more selective, and has some longer form compositions (Hungarian Rhapsody; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) of which only sections are the familiar bits.  Which makes it cool that they did feature the whole piece though, or at least more of it than they could’ve.  Overall, there’s absolutely enough of the instant-satisfaction nostalgia moments to carry interest over to the other moments, making the whole listen very enjoyable.

As a completely useless aside, though trying to dig into classical will always come with a huge, discouraging learning curve, I did find it interesting to note how similar the structure of some these pieces are to music that’s been echoed over the years – except that sounds now are replaced with electric guitars and yelly guys and whatnot.  But this was perhaps the first time I had that shock of recognizing how all music shares some connective tissue.