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Broadway - America's Music, Composers on Broadway
     

Broadway - America's Music, Composers on Broadway

 
The rating for this somewhat awkwardly titled six-CD set may seem positive, but given the music contained herein, not to mention the performing talent, it should have been much higher, much as the package itself should be better -- indeed, this is more a matter of damning with faint praise. The contents (which are also available as individual CD releases) are

Overview

The rating for this somewhat awkwardly titled six-CD set may seem positive, but given the music contained herein, not to mention the performing talent, it should have been much higher, much as the package itself should be better -- indeed, this is more a matter of damning with faint praise. The contents (which are also available as individual CD releases) are musically impeccable as far as they go, limited to ten or 11 tracks for each disc. Given the fact that the composers represented on each of these platters -- with the exception of George Gershwin because of his early death, and Leonard Bernstein, whose popularity beyond West Side Story was more cultish than ubiquitous -- had huge and wide-ranging successes across numerous shows and several decades, one gets only a smattering of the highlights from the composers involved, and scarcely more than a glimpse of what they were about. Irving Berlin lived the longest of them and had the lengthiest career as well, but it is Richard Rodgers, because of his extended partnerships with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, who gets to double dip in the package, and ends up the best represented figure here as a result. Cole Porter, by contrast, is represented almost entirely by his pre-World War II work, with but one song from Kiss Me, Kate (which was his biggest stage success of all) and not a note from Out of This World (not a hit, but it did yield "From This Moment On," one of Porter's most popular later numbers) or Silk Stockings. Meanwhile, Gershwin is represented by a mere ten tracks. One might also inquire as to the whereabouts of the volumes on Jerome Kern, Stephen Sondheim, Alan Jay Lerner, and Frederick Loewe, or Kurt Weill, for that matter, all of whom are at least as important as those represented here in terms of their influence on musical theater and the Broadway stage. One can argue that these CDs, and even this set, were not intended for the serious musical aficionado, but if that's the case, wouldn't some better annotation be in order, so that the material in question could be put into perspective? There's very little of the latter, and there's even less information as to the dates and sources of the recordings included, which seems doubly stupid -- one would think that this would have been included so that any neophyte who liked what he or she heard might be encouraged to follow up and buy the complete recording, recital disc, or whatever the source was in question. Unless one knew that the late Jerry Orbach had recorded an album of Broadway and off-Broadway show tunes in the early '60s, one might go in search of his recording of On Your Toes after hearing his version of "There's a Small Hotel" from the Rodgers & Hart volume (and in that regard, the producers here did select one of the highlights from Orbach's Off Broadway album). The rather cavalier approach to the packaging, programming, and annotation stands in sharp contrast to the care taken with the mastering of the music itself -- the recordings run the gamut from the 1930s and the likes of Gertrude Lawrence ("Someone to Watch Over Me") and Al Jolson ("Swanee") to modern recitals and cast recordings, with the late '50s and early '60s as the effective midpoint, and the early sides have been remastered by no less a figure than Doug Pomeroy, whose ability to make vintage music sources sound superb to modern ears is renowned throughout the industry. What's more, there's certainly no lack of variety in a package that stacks Jolson, Ethel Merman, Carol Burnett, and Dick Haymes up alongside Tatiana Troyanos, Bryn Terfel, Renée Fleming, et al., with Arthur Fiedler and John Mauceri among those handling the instrumental chores. One just wishes that the makers had been thorough and inspired all the way around the course, and not just where the sound was concerned. This is still a good introduction for neophyte musical buffs and an entertaining package for veteran fans, but the former will want to jump around the Web as they listen to pick up the whys and wherefores of each cut, and the sources of the music.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/10/2006
Label:
Decca Broadway
UPC:
0602498430002
catalogNumber:
000766802

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Leonard Bernstein   Conductor
Arthur Fiedler   Conductor
Irving Berlin   Vocals
Barbara Cook   Vocals
Bing Crosby   Vocals
Ethel Merman   Vocals
Rudy Vallée   Vocals
London Symphony Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Jolson   Vocals
Dick Haymes   Vocals
Julie Andrews   Vocals
Sarah Brightman   Vocals
José Carreras   Vocals
Mary Martin   Vocals
Marilyn Horne   Vocals
Stanley Black   Conductor
Elaine Stritch   Vocals
Nancy Walker   Vocals
Edie Adams   Vocals
Vivian Blaine   Vocals
Mitzi Gaynor   Vocals
Gertrude Lawrence   Vocals
Carol Burnett   Vocals
Thomas Hampson   Vocals
John Mauceri   Conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa   Vocals
Jerry Orbach   Vocals
Alfred Drake   Vocals
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Patti LuPone   Vocals
Boston Pops Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Georgia Brown   Vocals
Renée Fleming   Vocals
Donald O'Connor   Vocals
London Festival Orchestra and Chorus   Performing Ensemble
Avon Long   Vocals
Eileen Wilson   Vocals
Frances Langford   Vocals
Leo Reisman   Conductor
Shirley Ross   Vocals
Joan Roberts   Vocals
Leo Reisman & His Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Bryn Terfel   Vocals
June Anderson   Vocals
Joseph Lilley   Conductor
David Atkinson   Vocals
Edith Adams   Vocals
Tatiana Troyanos   Vocals
Miyoshi Umeki   Vocals
Anne Brown   Vocals
Ray Middleton   Vocals
Neilson Taylor   Vocals
Marty May   Vocals
William O'Neal   Vocals
Paula Laurence   Vocals
Betty Garrett   Vocals
Lynn Kennington   Vocals
Maggie Fitzgibbon   Vocals
Paula Hendrix   Vocals
Jack Soo   Vocals
Nancy Kwan   Vocals
Robert Lowe   Conductor
Beverly Wolff   Vocals
Robert Lowe   Conductor
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Cast Ensemble   Choir, Chorus
Salvatore Dell'Isola   Conductor
West Side Story Cast Ensemble   Choir, Chorus
William O'Neal   Vocals
Boys from Syracuse Pit Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Annie Get Your Gun Chorus   Choir, Chorus
On Your Toes Pit Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
James "Stump" Cross   Vocals

Technical Credits

Stephen Sondheim   Lyricist
Richard Wilbur   Lyricist
Irving Caesar   Lyricist
Betty Comden   Lyricist
Ira Gershwin   Lyricist
Adolph Green   Lyricist
Oscar Hammerstein   Lyricist
Lorenz Hart   Text
Alan Jay Lerner   Lyricist
Brian Drutman   Producer
Joseph S. Szurly   Producer
Olivier Delhaye   Art Direction
Fanny Gotschall   Creative Design
George Balanchine   Choreographer
Joseph Szurly   Producer

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