Sondheim's passion and dedication for his older works is admirable. Rather than cast aside those works that didn't reach the heights of Company or Sweeney Todd, Sondheim is a committed artist, willing to experiment and bring on new collaborators to bring out different nuances in his works. Moreso than Follies or Road Show, this spirit of innovation is most evident in the evolution of his score for "Merrily We Roll Along".
The quality of the recording is excellent. Some of the vocals on the album aren't technically polished and I must confess I am still rather partial to the Original Broadway Cast recording. But the fact remains that Merrily... will never be a huge blockbuster musical, and this is the case with many Sondheim works. They are nevertheless gems for avid theatregoers and fans of the musical theatre who desperately wish for the artform to continually evolve, with or without the co-operation of mainstream commercial interests. As such it is always a treat to have a recording of a Sondheim score. The Merrily recording preserves a lot of the revisions, along with much dialogue.
This recording reflects the New York Encores! staging of the work, which I unfortunately didn't get to see. It has, however, renewed my interest in seeing this show performed and this score given the audience it deserves, and as such I enthusiastically await the staging at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London at the end of this year.