This recording has probably got to be regarded as the finest Sound of Music recording alongside the film soundtrack, even if in the end this ends up being a more enjoyable listen. If you question this statement, I would tell you that it is because this recording sounds much fresher than the film soundtrack, which tends to chalk up more cobwebs faster and sound stale rather quickly, despite the stellar polished performances of Julie Andrews and co., and the sweeping orchestrations. In comparison, this recording has equally wonderful performances by Rebecca Luker, Michael Siberry, Patti Cohenour and the nuns, and the energetic, bright-sounding children, not to mention Max Detwailer and Elisa Schraeder. The delightful orchestral embellishments framing the style of the original only serve to make the listening experience more enjoyable, as does the concept of merging both stage and screen versions of the show into a new stage production, preserved here. Rebecca Luker's performance of Maria is as phenomenal as Julie Andrews. Her pearl-like voice is enough for her to be placed on par with Julie, and so is the energy and girlish quality she brings frequently to the role, not to mention her winning delivery of the title song, Do-Re-Mi and My Favourite Things. Equally up to her standard is Michael Siberry's melancholic, highly motivational, and sharply poised personification of Captain von Trapp. He gives the role a lifelike presence that is still easy for the audience to like him, and he also delivers a heart-wrenching, breathtaking and beautiful rendition of Edelweiss. In the supporing cast, the children shine out of the cast like sunbeams, with their sheer energy and vibrancy - the crucial part of the score, and the roles of the nuns, Rolf, and the secondary characters are equally well pulled off. The only weakness is that of the Mother Abbess because of her underpowered rendition of Climb Every Mountain, but it still contains a certain motherliness in her timbre that is enough to make up for what has been lost. Other notable highlights include the secondary songs How Can Love Survive? and No Way to Stop It, which contrasts well with the more familiar secondary songs from the film, I Have Confidence in Me and Something Good. The overall effect of this recording is like a stage show that blends in the elements of the film to the stage play, and the beautiful and clear digital recording only serves to enhance this effect. In conclusion, I feel as if I can call this the finest official recording of The Sound of Music available today, and a must for both a theatre enthusiast as well as for a neophyte Sound of Music fan, not to mention beginners.
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Although struggling to be as good as the now sadly unavailable Petula Clarke London version, this is still a complete and faithful representation of the stage show - and a million miles removed from the over-sugared film version. How good it is to hear again:" How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It" along with the full version of the Praeludium (brilliantly sung too, may I add) all of which were axed from the film. Rebecca Luker is a fine Maria and Michael Siberry's Von Trapp the best I have yet heard on record. There are fine vocal performances too from the children and the chorus. For me the weak links, however, and hence my choice of four not five stars, are Patti Cohenour who is under-voiced as the Mother Abbess and Jan Maxwell whose Elsa is not cold-hearted enough for my taste. None the less this recording is a must for all serious Rodgers and Hammerstein collectors and will be a great eye-opener for anyone who thinks that 'The Sound of Music' is all Julie Andrews, Hollywood and Candyfloss! Jonathan Rhodes
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