Compilation recording by Masterworks Broadway / 2016
Rate: 10 (from 1 to 10)
Review: There’s no doubt that Stephen Sondheim is one of the best and most important Musical Theater composers and lyricists. He is one of my all time favorites, so I have all of his musicals on CD, plus several concerts and even a delicious UNSUNG SONDHEIM. So, this new compilation now released by Masterworks Broadway doesn’t bring anything new to me, but it’s a fabulous introduction to the work of Sondheim.
For Sondheim starters this is simply perfect and it includes many of his most famous songs, sung by a stellar cast. There’s so much to enjoy here, from Elaine Stritch delivering her powerful “The Ladies Who Lunch”, plus “Broadway Baby”, to Barbara Cook’s emotional rendition of “Losing My Mind”. There’s Bernadette Peters’ “Not a Day Goes By”, “Children Will Listen”, “I Remember” and “Move On” in duet with Mandy Patinkin. The hilarious “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” (music by Jule Styne) by the original Broadway Cast and the contagious “America” (music by Leonard Bernstein) from the movie soundtrack. Two of the best songs ever written for a musical: “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (music by Jule Styne) by Ethel Merman and “I’m Still Here” by Carol Burnett. Of all the tracks, I only didn’t knew the curious jazzy version of “Loving You” from PASSION.
Other favorite songs of mine are “Send in the Clowns” sung by Glynis Johns, “Old Friends” by the original cast, Len Cariou’s “Pretty Women” and “A Little Priest”, and two great ensemble numbers “A Weekend in the Country” and “Sunday”.
Of course what is essential for you may not be the same for me. In fact, a compilation album is always the choosing of someone and I would change some of the songs for others. For example, instead of “Agony” from INTO THE WOODS I would have chosen “It Takes Two”. I never cared much for “Unworthy of Your Love” from ASSASSINS, but it shows a different side of Sondheim, although I would prefer the “Gun Song” from that musical. Curiously, there’s nothing from SATURDAY NIGHT and BOUNCE/ROAD SHOW.
I mike mine the words David Foils wrote in the booklet of this release: “Words and music are inseparable here. They form a whole far greater than the sum of it’s parts – a listening experience that always seem to grow young”. So, let the music and words of Sondheim conquer you and you’ll find a fabulous musical world. If you are already familiar with his work, this is just a reminder of his genius!