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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 November 2011
I have read the other reviews and responses, and while I agree with the criticisms of those who only gave this wonderful CD 3 stars, I feel that there is enough there to make up for any flaws that are most likely due to the fact that this is a live CD, and most likely a rushed one. I came from the States and was there for all three performances; I ordered the CD from Amazon UK so I would not have to wait until February to get it. I love Ramin Karimloo as Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine, and there is little if any problem in this CD to take away from their glorious passion and voices, and that awesome booming organ at the Royal Albert Hall. I get cold chills every time I hear those opening chords. I have attended Phantom at Her Majesty's many times, and I certainly noticed the ensemble being so much fuller at this celebration. Of course the ensemble is better than usual; it is made up of singers like Simon Bailey (former Raoul at Her Majesty's), Killian Donnelly (current Raoul at Her Majesty's), and Sophia Escobar, (current Christine at Her Majesty's). Yes, it is most regrettable that Sarah Brightman's performance is not on the CD; I can only assume that there was a copy write problem, because it was a glorious rendition. Michael Crawford, I'm sure, chose not to sing, and there is nothing anyone could do about that. He was offered the opportunity I am sure. He did not even show up until the last performance; he was not present for the first two. Perhaps he felt he could no longer do the music justice? Who knows? Yes, I also agree that sometimes one has to adjust the sound because the music is louder than the spoken parts, but again the fuller ensemble, and the more modern orchestration (I mean I even heard an electric guitar in a number or two!) more than makes up for any flaws in the engineering. . I much prefer this rendition over the original. The applause captures the excitement of the audience. I , for one, am glad for a new CD
of "The Phantom of the Opera."
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on 15 November 2011
Now before the backlash starts I am a huge Phan and I loved every moment of the anniversary special, but I am disappointed with this cd/mp3 release. Why? Quite simply the standard of the recording. I appreciate that this was filmed live, but there are some criminally long stretches of just sheer applause (grand finale I am looking at you) and in certain places (the opening Overture) the sound quality is not up to par. Sienna Borgess and Ramin Karimiloo sound fantastic as usual, and it is wonderful to have a CD with the whole score and not just snippets of this like the original, but the most criminal thing of all, having the 3= minute introduction in the grand finale of simply applause then ALW talking, to introduce Sarah Brightman... and then immediately skip her wonderful rendition of Phantom to do the group/four phantoms music of the night.

I saw the show so know she definitely sang this and whilst I appreciate this may be for legal reasons I find the exclusion rather baffling, especially as everything else, including the long applauses have been present in their full glory. It almost makes the last track redundant as, as great as the Four phantoms singing is, it doesn't provide the full experience I was hoping for.

Never the less still a must buy for true phans, although for newcomers I would still recommend the original 1986 soundtrack, or if you must the movie soundtrack (yes I know) as they at least benefit from the production values of a studio recorded album.

One hopes that maybe ALW will reunite the cast from this and record this in the studio , but this is unlikely, maybe in another 5 years we will have the album this should have been, until then this is still a wonderful album, just disappointing.
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on 5 December 2011
I was dearly hoping to be be able to give this a 5-star review...have seen the Blu-Ray and it is breathtaking....so I was just a mite disappointed to get this through the post and put it on to hear a poorly mixed (almost all voices come from the "centre" - no seperation at all....not to mention the frequent muddy sound) and actually extremely QUIET CD. I know the arguments for/agaionst the "loudness" wars, so please don't think I am saying that it should be deafening....but for it to be this quiet is simply not right.

A 5 Star show, turned into a 3 star CD. Not what I hoped for, and far better is possible (the soundtrack of the Blu-Ray is vastly superior in quality and mixing).
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on 4 August 2014
COMPLETE: first of all, this is so far the most complete official English full recording of this musical I've ever heard (there were a few changes in the order of the lines, e.g. Firmin and André's entrance is after the rehearsal of "Hannibal" instead of while the ballet; but there is more or less the full original text). A little modification was made in the ending of "Whishing you were somehow here again", adding an orchestral climax where the original had an ending nearly a cappella. (Better also the sound effects, especially the Phantom's fireballs, in the second act, where they sound as a blaze insted of as a cracker)
VS. THE ORIGINAL CAST RECORDING: while perhaps Sierra Boggess has not Sarah Brightman's purest voice, she studied as a soprano and it's rather evident, and her top rings somehow like Brightman's even though it's fuller and warmer; Ramin Karimloo's nerly baritone-voice is perhaps better suited to the Phantom than Michael Crawford's lightest tenor.
VS. SCHUMACHER'S 2004 CAST (2 disc integrale soundtrack): Schumacher's movie's cast is quite opposite to the Original Cast recording: a baritone Phantom (Butler's rocky voice), but a Christine (Emmy Rossum) with a rather feeble voice (usually quite unsuitable for an opera singer, even though some professional sopranos - e.g. Kathleen Battle - do have a similar one). Schumacher's demystifying approcah is perhaps the most evident change from the original show (he shows us the Phantom's tricks, which are hinted but never shown as sch in the theatre musical) - other than nearly full rewriting and (apparently reasonless) switching of diaglogues and "recitatives" (see "Think of it: a secret ingagement; look your future bride!" which is throughly sung in the musical, whereas the movie has just "Think of it" sung by Rossum, then switching to spoken dialogue).
ORCHESTRA: the orchestration is quite rich, with the enormous orchestra they assembled for the event, and the acting very good.
LIVE RECORDING: on the other hand, cheering and other audience noises are very few (just some cheering after two or three big famous numbers). Of course, you should own both this and the video recording in order to fully appreciate the performance.
LOVE NEVER DIES: moreover, the two leads link this recording to that of "Love never dies" (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002S0OBMS?keywords=love%20never%20dies&qid=1441032212&ref_=sr_1_1&s=music&sr=1-1) (being the same in both recordings).
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2012
Fans of the Phantom would be exceedingly happy with this new 25th anniversary cast recording of the fabled Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, taken from the live Albert Hall anniversary concerts. Unlike the venerable West End cast album with Brightman and Crawford, this 2-disc set of the musical presents the complete score with an abbreviated finale. The performances are as good as any, and worthy of the occasion, but the presentation on CD is let down by the poor recording quality.

Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess are superb in the two principal roles. Karimloo's Phantom allows us listeners to hear the character change in his voice. He seduces Christine in the first act but becomes more tortured and obsessed by her as the musical progresses. Sierra Boggess is a superb Christine with such a beautiful soprano voice. I didn't quite feel taken by Hadley Fraser's portrayal of Raoul because it did sound arrogant and not quite committed to Christine in the manner of, for instance, Steve Barton or Michael Ball. The supporting cast is just as good as the principals, especially Wendy Ferguson in her comic portrayal of Carlotta and Gareth Snook and Barry James in the flustered comic roles of the managers.

The sound quality on this CD release is not really up to scratch. It tends to be muddy in passages of dialogue, such as during the Prologue. Also in loud parts I notice that the sound does not spread. In short, the sound is quite boxed-in, and doesn't offer an enveloping, theatrical feel. I notice the same issue with the current release of the West End cast album, because that tends to sound boxy too and not up to the sound of the recent Lloyd Webber cast album remasters. (I hope that Lord Lloyd-Webber and the Really Useful Group can take a hint and remaster the London album again to improve the sound and achieve more.) I'm not suggesting that engineers should master this disc with Loudness War techniques, but clarity in recordings can be an issue for listeners like me. Taking the case of the 2010 live UK tour recording of Les Mis that cast album had better sound quality than this. It was punchy in loud passages and there was more spread of sound.

Some people have mentioned that the finale with Brightman and the four Phantoms was cut. I won't dwell on that. Rather, it would have been good if the CD omitted Lord Lloyd-Webber's speech and cut straight to the finale, just like the CD of the Les Mis Albert Hall anniversary concert. Also, it would have been good to have had more cue points on the CD. I mention this for the other Lloyd Webber musicals too. In the case of the Phantom the Hannibal and Il Muto sequences (and also Carlotta's rendition of Think of Me) could have been presented as separate tracks.

In short, this performance of the musical is as superb as ever, only to be ruined by the CD presentation, but at least it satisfies the Phans who would like a complete official English cast album of the musical. Maybe one could consider getting the DVD or Blu-Ray releases as well to obtain an improved sound quality for this performance I'm not implying that we should avoid this disc like the plague. I'm only saying that the sound engineering and recording could have been so much better.
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on 5 December 2011
It is very nice to have the full musical complete in CD Audio. While the Original London Cast is better (the voices and musical passion of both Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford are very difficult to be surpassed), this performance is of high quality, and for a Phan like me, it is an incredible gem to have what seems the most complete version of the musical to date.

As for the potential problems in some of the tracks, well, I have heard them in both the CD-Audio and downloaded version, so, until I wait for the DVD to be received, they seem to me as some special effects. For example, in the Overture, they seem like electrical discharges from the chandelier. Not very sure, but they don't seem defects in the recording, though they are not very pleasant and, IMHO, shouldn't have been included in the audio version.

Some of the songs are slightly different from the OLC orquestration, but after two or three listenings, you finally are used to them. Sierra Boggess and Karimloo are splendid in their performance.

A must-have for any phan, and especially for anyone who likes the wonderful Andrew Lloyd Webber's music.
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on 28 December 2011
Having attended the 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall, I can say that the recording definitely does the live performances justice. The cast sounds fantastic, and the orchestra very rich and full. My main criticism, however, is that the recording was not edited properly for CD. I agree with other reviewers that the length of applause should have been reduced, and I also think that some of the tracks should have been editted more carefully for CD. For example, some of the musical and spoken libretto that leads up to the main songs could have been cut(they look great on stage and are appropriate for the DVD, but not always for a CD where the listener has no idea what is going on), or at least they could have split it into more tracks instead of making songs such as 'Wandering Child,' the prelude leading into 'Don Juan triumphant' and 'Past the Point of No Return' into one massive track. That having been Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess sound as superb of as they did in the Royal Albert Hall, as do the rest of the cast and the orchestra. Highly recommended.
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on 3 December 2011
Unfortunately some of the tracks on this CD seem to be damaged. I'm already on my second CD and it has exactly the same problem as the first. The Overture on CD1 seems to be damaged, it's not applause but crackling and interference which is shocking.

I don't know whether to try ordering again but twice with both CD's having the same problem?
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on 30 November 2011
.....that the Phantm of the Opera was ultimately a gift from Sir Andrew to Sarah Brightman - being written around here and her voice/role and as a fan of hers here absence is always sadly missed. That said, if it wasn't for the applause, I would never have guessed this was a live recording and the sound quality does exceed the studio recording that I have, in places. Good reminder of the event and some good performances, without being the household names associated with such musicals.
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on 5 October 2015
Decided to order this as I have loved the music for a long time and wondered if this special show would be worth while. The answer is a resounding yes! The spectacular chandelier crash is missing but the performances were amazing . Ramin Karimloo gave great depth of soul to the Phantom and my favourite, Hadley Fraser made Raoul a fully rounded character not just a spoiled posh boy but a real romantic hero. Music and performances second to none, a real treat for any music lover
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