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VINE VOICEon 5 December 2015
The golden anniversary of the film of The Sound of Music has given me the right occasion to review this NBC TV cast recording.

Two years ago NBC's live telecast of the Broadway musical with Carrie Underwood as Maria gave viewers who only know the film the chance to see a TV production of the musical with its original stage script. I give credit to American TV networks for giving a TV-viewing audience access to live musical theatre again with these productions. NBC has also followed up this production with live Christmas-period telecasts of Peter Pan and The Wiz. Other American TV networks are planning to get in on the act (as witness the upcoming Fox version of Grease).

Be that as it may, I've noted that this recording does not do justice to the magnificent score. I know that these live TV musicals have an energy that comes from the spirit of amateurs just putting on a show. However, be that as it may, this recording does not do justice to this magnificent R&H score. I give credit to the efforts of this cast and the music team, but I find that it lacks that last bit of sparkle and freshness. It does not help that the cast recorded this cast recording BEFORE the broadcast, not after. The front-rank principals tend to be leaden and wooden in their characterisations, especially when compared to the secondary characters (Mother Abbess, Max and Elsa).

The draw of this production is, of course, Carrie Underwood as Maria. I worried that her casting might make the hills alive with the sound of disaster. However, the disaster was not as bad as I anticipated. Despite her acting problems and leaden characterisation of the part, I still give credit to her for essaying the role of Maria. Carrie did her best to adapt to the sustained phrasing required by the R&H songs, ditching the country twang. This was a welcome relief. I noted that she had problems with her phrasing and her breathing, notably in the title song. Also, her high notes tend to sound rather nasal, harsh and strained, probably from her use of the chest voice. I notice this a lot in her Lonely Goatherd. It would be nice if ladies who essay this role could have a nice, floating, sustained voice when they sing. Personally, of all her songs, I felt that she fared the best in her rendition of My Favourite Things, which (in the original stage version) she sings with the Mother Abbess before leaving the Abbey for Captain von Trapp's house. I also give her credit for attempting to reach out to the children in her two main numbers with them.

On this cast recording, we don't hear much of Stephen Moyer's portrayal of Captain von Trapp. He only shows up for a few numbers of which Edelweiss is his standout solo. Moyer's reading of Edelweiss is sensitive and tender, but I couldn't feel his feelings about Austria when I heard him sing it. His singing was strong enough on Something Good and No Way to Stop it, but a bit leaden on the Sound of Music reprise.

I liked Audra McDonald's portrayal of the Mother Abbess. She offers an expertly-characterised portrayal of the part. It is coincidental that Audra essayed the Mother Abbess 20 years after her first professional R&H role, that of Carrie in the Broadway revival of Carousel. She offers a lovely, nuanced, non-stentorian version of Climb Ev'ry Mountain. I am well aware that R&H originally wrote this song for an opera singer (Patricia Neway). However, Audra's lovely rendition is one of the highlights of this cast recording. The nuns who sang with her in Maria could have done with just a bit more characterisation. Jessica Molaskey as Sister Berthe did not quite assert herself and show her biting, acerbic, disagreeable side in her portrayal. Christiane Noll as Sister Margaretta fared better as did Elena Shaddow as Sophia. I noted that they were making a genuine effort to characterise their songs. In the big nun ensembles (the Preludium and the Wedding scene) I could tell that the nuns were enjoying what they were doing. It's a pity that the wedding scene was rearranged so that the Confitemini Domino comes BEFORE the processional and the reprise of Maria.

Of the other supporting players, I rather liked Laura Beranti (a former Maria) as Elsa. She joins Christian Borle as Mac in the two Elsa-Max songs. I noted that How can Love Survive? fared better. Beranti better delivered the ironic, cynical lyrics, while Borle in this studio recording of the song was a bit leaden and wooden. However, curiously enough, I found that Max fared better in No Way to Stop It.

In most Sound of Music productions, the seven children are the stars of the show. Though I occasionally wished they could sing with a bit more freshness, they offered lovely readings of their group parts. Their Sound of Music reprise is lovely, but I wish they could have stepped out and been less stilted during So Long, Farewell. Ariane Rinehart as Liesl fares well in her duet with Michael Campayno on Sixteen Going on Seventeen and also in the Act Two reprise with Maria. I did wish that Campayno could feel more like a youth who is having fun and putting on a fake maturity.

This production presents the songs in the order of the stage show, replacing An Ordinary Couple with Something Good. We don't hear I Have Confidence on the journey to Captain von Trapp's villa. The music team combined the Robert Russell Bennett arrangements with the Irwin Kostal film arrangements. This is nice enough, but sometimes it leads to some strange transitions. For instance, Sixteen Going on Seventeen starts like the Broadway version but uses the dance breaks from the film. Also, I spot some clunky transitions in Lonely Goatherd and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. The film version of the former does not include the brass band section since it was conceived as a puppet show sequence. Also, Climb Ev'ry Mountain uses the lower film key and modulates awkwardly into the Broadway key for the second half. Elsewhere, the arrangements work, such as during Edelweiss and So Long, Farewell. The only thing that bothers me about the music direction is that the conductor accelerates the tempo and does not keep to a consistent tempo from the start. Kostal played around with the tempo on the film soundtrack recordings to suit the film pacing. Personally, it does not work and it might not be in keeping with the spirit of Rodgers' music.

Ultimately, when all is said and done, this might not be the best post-65 recording of the R&H musical. That honour goes to the 1999 Australian revival recording with Lisa McCune. It was a reverent and fresh recording that captured a superb cast and the special live atmosphere of a theatre performance. Yet this valiant effort can still be a worthy keepsake of the NBC broadcast.
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I have a confession to make. As much as I love the musical The Sound of Music, I only have one soundtrack from it – the original Broadway cast. At some point, I really do intend to buy the Julie Andrews movie version, but there are a couple songs that the movie cut I loved. However, that sound track I have has some issues, and I’ve wanted to replace it for years. Enter the Cast Recording from the recent The Sound of Music - Live, and I’ve found exactly what I’m looking for.

All of your favorite sounds from the musical are here. We’re talking “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Every Mountain,” Edelweiss,” and “The Sound of Music,” among others. However, if you are only familiar with the movie, some things are going to be different here. The movie changed the order around, but this one sticks to the order from the original Broadway play. When I was in the play in college, I must admit the new order took a little getting used to, but once you do, you won’t mind at all.

The only change this disc makes as far as songs go from the original is the song that Captain Von Trapp and Maria sing after they fall in love. Here, we get the song from the movie, “Something Good.” Honestly, I don’t care for either of the love songs, so I’m ambivalent about this.

The soundtrack uses a full orchestra, as it should. The instruments sound amazing, and it’s easy to get swept up in the beauty of the music.

And the singing? It’s wonderful. Carrie Underwood’s acting as Maria was criticized in the movie (and rightly so), but if you watched the movie carefully, she came alive whenever she was singing. That means there are no issues whatsoever with the songs she’s in. (And honestly, the couple of lines she speaks on the recording are better acted than Mary Martin’s acting at the same spots. Yes, I went there.) The rest of the cast is great. The kids don’t miss a note. Audra McDonald is amazing as Mother Superior. Stephen Moyer has a great voice, so his songs as the Captain are top notch. Rounding out the main cast of singers are Laura Benanti as Elsa (the Captain's ill-fated love interest) and Christian Borle as Max who both do fine jobs as well.

So let’s talk about those two songs cut from the original movie. Both are songs that Elsa and Max sing. Captain Von Trapp joins them on the second song. From the first act, there’s “How Can Love Survive?” Elsa and Max sing this song to the Captain as a bit of a joke. The idea behind it is that, since the Captain and Elsa are rich, they have no struggles to overcome, so how can they possible make it. After all, the famous couples in love overcome great odds. It’s part bragging (Elsa), part jealousy (Max), and quite funny.

The second song cut from the original movie is the first song from the second act - “No Way to Stop It.” Again, there’s some biting humor to the song, but there is a seriousness underneath it all. It comes as the Captain, Elsa, and Max are discussing the growing Nazi threat, and Elsa and Max try to use this song to convince the Captain that he should not try to fight the Nazi’s. I especially love how Stephen Moyer plays this song. In the movie, it was easy to tell how disgusted he was, but it still comes across in his voice on the recording.

There are some other songs on here that are lesser known. The disc starts off with the nuns’ evening prayers. We get the song sung during the wedding as well as the two dance songs from the party in the first act. And the final track is the instrumental piece that pays over the credits.

I have to comment briefly on the fact that this was recorded in a studio and not the soundtrack taken from the filmed live performance. I can understand why (partly because this was released before the movie), but I do still find it ironic.

The only flaw I can find with this disc is the fact that they took out the middle section of “Do-Re-Mi.” Yes, the song can get repetitive and long, so maybe that is why. But since they included the entire song in the movie, I’m a little confused as to why it isn't all here on this recording.

Still, that’s not nearly enough to be a deal breaker. I’ve found a new preferred version of the play soundtrack with The Sound of Music - Live Cast Recording. Still, I’m going to get the original movie soundtrack some day.
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on 6 August 2015
I bought this as kept missing the show when it was shown on TV over Christmas. The singing that Carrie provides is better than I thought it would be and there are some good and fun songs in this cd. Although was never a fan of the actual Julie Andrews film this live cd is pretty good although after hearing it the first time I was bored by it. I have to say I do like it now and its worth the money.
Carrie's recent new album 'storyteller' which I rushed to buy from HMV is great too and while doing the Sound of Music was probably worth a try she should stick to making country music as it suits her a lot better.
The other singers on the cd are also very good and I hope to eventually see the whole live show as while Carrie might not be the best actress she certainly can belt out some good stuff!
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on 11 December 2013
Although I still love the film version of this classic musical with the legendary Julie Andrews in the role of Maria, I equally love the original cast Recording with again the legendary Mary Martin who created the role of Maria on Broadway in 1959. This recording I feel recaptures the stage play for a television audience. What for me this recording does is to realize even more what a mistake it was by Robert Wise the film version's director to cut the songs that Max Elsa and Max Elsa and The Captain sing in the stage version: 'How can Love Survive' and 'No Way To Stop It! fine songs which show Hammerstein in a rare sardonic mood and give, again for me, more meaning to the story. Also I prefer 'My Favorite Things' sung by Maria and The Mother Abbess,
rather than as in the film version to the children. In the stage version Maria sings to the children 'The Lonely Goatherd' here during the Thunderstorm which for me gives far more meaning to the song and includes Hammerstein's very clever lyrics. The film uses the marionettes puppet show for this song which Rodgers & Hammerstein would not I feel had written that type of song for that situation. Again that is how I feel.

The cutting of the song 'An Ordinary Couple' and the substitution of 'Something Good' that Richard Rodgers wrote for the film version is justifiable however as Rodgers & Hammerstein themselves were never happy with that song, and wanted to write another, even their greatest fan and star Mary Martin dis-liked that song, it is reported as her saying I liked the words to 'An Ordinary Couple' but I never did like the music! Unfortunately Hammerstein's terminal illness prevented them from writing a new song. He died 9 months after the stage play opened on Broadway.

I have heard that a lot of people have dis-liked this production comparing it unfavorably to the film version.

Please remember this is NOT another television version of the film musical, but of the stage play.

The DVD is available on region 1 from 17th December 2013 hopefully there will be an all region or region 2 disc available as well soon.
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on 23 December 2013
Love this recording. Carrie Underwood is not your conventional Maria but great, non the less. And the flawless performances by the Broadway vets Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle make it a must for any musical theatre lovers collection.
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Amazing album. Delivered in time. Everything perfect.
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on 13 June 2016
only played one time....
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on 2 December 2015
Thank you seller for the gigantic stock sticker in the back of this CD which won't peel off without making a mess. Going to have to replace the case before I can give this as a Christmas gift. Really, thank you very much for the hassle free stocking filler 👍😡
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on 18 October 2015
Great CD
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