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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FINE MEMENTO, BUT ORIGINAL CAST IS STRONGER, 17 Aug 2006
By 
Klingsor Tristan (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
As a record of by far the best production of this wonderful Sondheim show that I have seen, this is great. As a stand-alone record of the music, I'm afraid it's no match for the original New York cast recording. On stage, Daniel Evans really gives depth and humanity to the two rather unlikeable Georges and stops Act 2 becoming the anticlimax it can sometimes seem. His voice, though, doesn't have the strength, the range of colour, the breath control or the power of Mandy Patinkin. Too often one finds oneself wanting those sustained notes that Sondheim lays above his pointilliste orchestration held for longer, both by Evans and by the Dot of Jenna Russell. This is especially true of the two big emotional numbers, We Do Not Belong Together and Move On. And the emotionally crunching big descant on 'And the light' in the latter song, so powerful in Patinkin's slightly weird ultra-high tenor, goes for relatively little here.

The orchestration, too, feels a little thin compared to the New York recording. The small band worked well in the confined spaces of the Chocolate Factory, but already felt a bit light in the West End and seems even more so on disc. Most importantly, the distinct colour - the 'tinta', if you like - that Sondheim gives this score is provided by the French Horn (suggested by the bugler in the painting). There wasn't one in the theatre where the part was mostly played by a saxophone. Here it crops up occasionally, but sounds very much as if it's played from the keyboards.

For the rest of the cast, it is predictably a bit swings and roundabouts. Simon Green's Jules is excellent as is his wife. Jenna Russell's Dot is fine up to a point, but I remain unconvinced by the Northern accent. Bernadette Peters American seems less intrusive and her singing is more intense, more characterful. The one outstanding actor/singer here is Gay Soper who makes George's Mother's number, Beautiful, a revelation - intensely moving and an even more successful point of rest before the great Act 1 Finale.

On the plus side, this recording includes more dialogue than the Original Cast disc, giving one a better idea of the plot. And, of course, Sondheim's score is still one of his finest. The move through dissonant chords to consonant harmony as George says 'harmony' may sound literal, but it works. So too the use of pointilliste riffs and ostinati to reflect George's unique painting technique. And the sequence of songs from Finishing the Hat through We Do Not Belong Together and Beautiful to the magical final assembly of the elements of the painting in Sunday is unaccountably overwhelming. That's what makes Sondheim and this show so special.

This is a fine memento of a great production of Sunday in the Park. But the Original Cast album still remains the first choice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 22 Sep 2006
By 
Alice Fay (New York and London) - See all my reviews
This is one of the most remarkable recordings I have purchased. I am not alone in thinking that: the majority of reviewers seem to have gone nuts for it. Those who haven't, I would suggest, just don't appreciate its subtlety. From Daniel Evans' opening words, it is clear that this is not simply a record of a stage production, with everyone giving big, stagey performances. It is more like a radio play - but with songs! Everyone's delivery is precise and intimate, with the result that every line (sung and spoken) is nuanced, fresh and interesting.

Interestingly, the reduced orchestration is more along the lines of what Sondheim originally had in mind, back in 1983, and underscores the pointilist themes of the piece.

Both Evans and Jenna Russell have beautiful voices. They are not the powerhouses that their Broadway equivalents were, but what they lack in "razmataz" they make up for in humanity. The central relationship has never been more touching, precisely because the two leads control their emotions, instead of letting it "all pour out". It's about two people who just cannot communicate, and it is heartbreaking.

The supporting cast are all better than the Broadway lot. Gay Soper's Old Lady gets the most to do, and is particularly moving. Simon Green and Liza Sadovy's married double-act also deserves a mention. Christopher Colley's Soldier is great fun, and the extra bonus track he sings is a fantastic new addition to the Sondheim archives, containing some of the composer's wittiest lyrics.

In addition to said bonus track, the CD contains far more material - songs and dialogue - than the Broadway album. No longer must we suffer those jarring cuts in The Day Off and (particularly) Putting It Together!

And oh my God, when the whole cast sing together... The finale of Act 1 will knock your socks off! They are so in tune with each other, so delicate, then so powerful.

This is the finest new cast recording in years. Buy it now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Density without intensity, 1 Sep 2006
By 
M. C. Cresswell - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Sorry, I could not resist quoting the show in the review of this album. I was fortunate enough to catch one of the final performances of the superb Chocolate Factory production at Wyndham's theatre, and in a sense a cast recording was always going to have a tough act to follow.

What worked so well in the theatre is, as mentioned below, a fairly pale representation on record. Jenna Russell as Dot just about gets the upper hand over Daniel Evans as George. The voices work but there is a noticeable lack of emotion or warmth in what is a show built on these two qualities.

Oddly enough there's quite a squashed sound about this recording, and an almost total lack of reverb on the voices which adds to the hollowness. The voices are also very high up in the mix which only serves to compound the effect.

On the plus side it's the only version of the entire show which we're ever likely to be treated to. If you're in awe of this show and especially of the London production, as I am, you'll probably have little choice other than to get this and it's a done deal. However after a listen or two I'm still just trying to tell myself the cast really "believe" it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, 4 May 2014
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One of Sondheim's slightly more off-beat musicals, the music is nevertheless very catchy and 'listenable'. I defy you to listen and not start humming along...and I'm not used to being able to hum along to Sondheim!
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4.0 out of 5 stars 2nd cast, 18 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Sunday in The Park with George (Audio CD)
Good cd but 4 stars because it didn't have the cast I expected and there was no description of the actual cast pre sale
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sondheim's best?, 16 Aug 2006
By 
Mr. C (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
In my opinion this score rates amongst Sondheim's greatest achievements and this double CD represents the most complete recording of the score. An excellent recording of the current new london production starring Daniel Evans as artist George Seurat and Jenna Russell as his mistress Dot, takes its place proudly along side the original broadway cast recording with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters.

This recording provides better value for money being a double cd containing more music than previously released. The two leads are excellent and have an equally excellent supporting cast. The original orchestrations by Starobin are replaced by new orchestrations by Jason Carr, a five piece chamber orchestration making the piece more intimate. I was dubious about buying this CD as I am so fond of the broadway cast recording, but after seeing the show I bought it immediately and was not disappointed!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning - a modern classic, 29 Jun 2006
By 
Roger Bradley (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sunday in The Park with George (Audio CD)
If you weren't fortunate enough to see this production in London you can at least enjoy the vocal beauty of it with this very complete two disc set.

The poignancy of the central relationship between Dot and Georges is much more in evidence here than in the Broadway version , the orchestrations are beautiful and the singing wonderful.

An absolute must for all Sondheim fans and a good place to start for those who aren't quite sure yet.
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Sunday in The Park with George
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