on 4 February 2007
This is as close to perfection as it gets. Obviously recorded when the cast were still on an enormous high, this recording is nothing short of a masterpiece! Never have I ever heard such fresh and fervent performances on an Original Cast Album of anything!
Number by number, it just seems to get better and better until by the time I reached Lesley Garrett's definitive recording of 'Climb Every Mountain' I had 'lost it' completely and was in floods of tears of pure delight!
I said that this was as close to perfection as it gets which implies that there are minor blemishes and indeed, I quibble with both the arrangement and the performance of 'No Way to Stop It'. To me this is a crucial moment when the Captain realises that he will never be able to agree with the Baroness' political views and it is the final crack in his relationship with her, opening the way for him to propose to Maria. It is vital, particularly on an album where we don't have the rest of the story that his revulsion for the Nazis is made clear by his sarchasm of the last verse - sadly, there is little or no trace of this in Alexander Hanson's voice. A minor point, may be but a valid one, I think.
Much has been written in the press about Connie Fisher and there is little that I can add. A great new star is born and this record confirms it!
The children are excellent and the orchestra (and orchestrations) are terrific. A well voiced ensemble completes what is the most exiting album to come my way ....Ever (and I really mean that!).
on 16 March 2015
Fifty years ago our two local cinemas offered us the same choice week after week: Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music. I never went to either, sharing the opinion of the chattering classes that the latter at any rate was "sentimental rubbish" and "cringe-makingly ludicrous".
But we're singing some selections from the musical in our choir, so I bought this copy, not least because it was the cheapest of the Amazon selection. It's a 2006 London Palladium Cast Recording, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the English accents sound a bit incongruous. But it's a good recording, and the tunes and singing are also good. Yes, it's pleasant to listen to. I also enjoy Carousel and South Pacific. No wonder I never made it to the chattering classes.
on 29 August 2011
I recieved this cast recording, along with the 1981 cast recording (with Petula Clark) as christmas presents. As I had recently seen SoM on tour with Connie Fisher, I was looking forward to re-living the music from the comfort of my own home. However, after listening to the 81 cast album, my expectations became even higher... but this cd was a bit of a let down in all honesty. The orchestra has its moments of beauty, as does connie, but she seems to be whispering a lot of the time (I understand that she does suffer from a throat illness). Also, the arrangement of some of the songs have been changed ever so slightly, but it seemed a little out of the ordinary after listening to the other version. All in all, I believe for the price, it is well worth it... but in my eyes it will never beat the 1981 cast recording... good try... just not quite there:)
I was prompted by the coverage of the golden anniversary of the Sound of Music film to listen to this 2006 revival recording of the stage musical. This musical, in both its stage and screen iterations, is popular enough to blaze new media trails in its long, long way to run. In this production, Andrew Lloyd Webber used reality TV to search for a spirited ingenue to essay the part of Maria for a revival at the London Palladium. This he did when he found Connie Fisher, who was the draw of this production. Lloyd Webber duly produced a cast recording to tie in with the opening of this production.
I know that people may debate the merits of this particular R&H musical. Though Lindsay and Crouse wrote the script with dialogue and stage directions, it still has the same R&H feel as the musicals for which Hammerstein wrote both book and lyrics. I express a persistent worry that people might write off Sound of Music as a weak R&H score or even write off the post-Carousel R&H successes as "same old, same old" and frippery only fit for the 1940s and 1950s. Yes I know that their Oklahoma! and Carousel got America through the Second World War and established the reputation of R&H. However, their late-period successes have a gossamer lustre and are still worthy of a musical theatre fan's attention. I like to think that Sound of Music and King and I are like Siamese twins in having similar stories and scores with a similar feel. As such I see these two R&H shows as bookends to their second decade. In addition, I note that this score is so tightly-knit and has subtle links between the individual songs. In any case, it's good to know that people are still as fond of The Sound of Music as when the stage musical was first presented. It is a heartening thought in this year when the film adaptation with Dame Julie marks its golden anniversary.
This recording is a lush-sounding, sumptuous-sounding recording of the R&H musical. The orchestra is full-bodied and the voices of the singers are clear. Be that as it may, after listening to it, I find that it lacks that sense of spontaneity that accompanied many prior recordings of this musical. I'm not begrudging the efforts of Connie Fisher and this superb West End company. They are trying their best, but there are times when this rendition of the score might be wanting in the last degree of sparkle.
Connie Fisher as that flighty flibbertigibbet named Fräulein Maria has a fetching soprano and does her best to project her voice and her characterisation. While she nods to Dame Julie in her portrayal of the role, I note a few pop mannerisms in her vocal stylings. I also note that her voice sounds rather airy and lacking in body and projection. Her rendition of the title song near the beginning might need just a bit more melancholy, but she manages the mood swings of I have confidence. Fisher is at her best in her numbers with the children, genuinely enjoying their presence in Do-Re-Mi, the bedroom scene rendition of My Favourite Things and especially in The Lonely Goatherd. I note, though, that she still sounds the same during Something Good and the reprise of Sixteen Going on Seventeen (which she sings with Liesl). These two songs come later in the score and might require Maria to sound like a more mature, experienced woman. At least Something Good is soft and deep.
Playing the part of Captain von Trapp opposite her is Alexander Hanson. He hasn't much to do on this album, only showing up for four numbers. His standout number, Edelweiss, is soft-grained and tender, though occasionally I would have liked a bit more melancholy in his voice so that he can project his sadness at leaving his occupied homeland. However, he shows that he is genuinely moved by his children's singing in the Sound of Music reprise.
The supporting cast is even better than the principal cast. I love Lesley Garrett's portrayal of the Mother Abbess. She seems to stand out during the nuns' group number, Maria, and offers a soft-grained, full-bodied rendition of Climb Ev'ry Mountain. She does not sound overbearing like most Mother Abbesses do, but she reaches down to Maria's level. I particularly love her sculpting of phrases and the delicate highlighting of the word "love" in "all the love you can give". Of the other supporting adults, Max and Elsa are just fine. especially Max with his biting, sardonic wit.
I watched this production when it toured through Singapore and I noted that the juvenile roles were the best. So it is in this recording. As noted above, the children are at their very best in their numbers with Maria. Their Sound of Music reprise mid-way through Act One is absolutely angelic and you can feel Captain von Trapp's heart melting when he hears his children singing for the first time in a long while. However this track cuts off before the ensuing continuation of the scene where the children go off with Elsa and Captain von Trapp forgives Maria. When Liesl duets with Rolf on Sixteen going on seventeen, she seemed to fare better. I didn't quite like the way they dragged the words "You are sixteen" (or "I am sixteen") at the beginning of each refrain. There wasn't enough articulation. Elsewhere I liked the way they highlighted the words to show how mature they were, like "roues and cads" or "bachelor dandies". So Long, Farewell fared less well than the group numbers with Maria. The tempo for the introduction was slow before the main section of the song kicked in with a fast tempo. I noted that the singing here was a bit stilted, notably in the individual solos.
Although this is an enjoyable recent Sound of Music cast recording, I can't help finding it wanting. I'm not saying this to make Connie Fisher inferior when up next to Mary Martin or Dame Julie. Fisher does well with the role of Maria. However, this studio recorded cast album lacks a sense of spontanaeity and excitement that accompanies performances on stage. I sense that in many vintage cast recordings the actors better projected their characters out of the studio and into the listener's sitting rooms than performers of today. Also, even though this recording plays for an hour, it would have been good if Andrew Lloyd Webber and Nigel Wright had included a bit more music to give listeners a better sense of the story. This recording omits the second part of the Sound of Music reprise with the Captain and Maria and excises the superb canticle after the nuns' reprise of Maria in the wedding scene. The saddest omission is that of the reprise of So Long, Farewell. I know these are only small bits but they help to give a better sense of the story. The reprise of So Long, Farewell, in particular, is a tragic loss and leaves a gaping hole between Edelweiss and the Climb Ev'ry Mountain reprise at the end. It shows how Maria, Captain von Trapp and the children are staging their exit out of Austria in fear and dread. Unfortunately the original Broadway and London albums don't include that all-important reprise. With the extra space contained on an 80-minute CD, one would have hoped the Lloyd Webber would have included these important bits of the score on the recording. Even if this recording was modelled on the 1961 London recording with Jean Bayless, these cuts are still unfortunate.
Still, this recording has some good points to commend it to any Sound of Music purchaser. It may not exactly be the best post-65 stage recording of the score. That honour goes to the 1999 Australian revival recording with Lisa McCune as Maria. Even so, this London revival has something meaningful to offer to the discography of the R&H musicals.
on 7 December 2009
Sweet sounding, pretty, Connie Fisher was my favourite to win the BBC contest. I missed her original run in SofM in London, but she has been touring in 2009. I was lucky to catch her at the Mayflower, Southampton, in October, where she was as enchanting as ever. The CD captures it all and is a permanent record.