Les Misérables [Original London Cast Recording]

( 21 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sarah Erlewine
Originally conceived as a simple recording production, Les Misérables evolved quickly into one of the premiere theater events of the 1980s. Theatrically on par with The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miz is drawn from the Victor Hugo novel of the same name. The story chronicles the life of Jean Valjean, a simple Frenchman who was arrested as a youth for stealing a loaf of bread. After serving five years for that crime, as well as an additional 14 for attempted escape, Valjean is released on parole. Upon changing his name and eluding his parole officer, Valjean becomes the surrogate father of a young girl and a mayor as the French Revolution sets in. As the war rages, he finds...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sarah Erlewine
Originally conceived as a simple recording production, Les Misérables evolved quickly into one of the premiere theater events of the 1980s. Theatrically on par with The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miz is drawn from the Victor Hugo novel of the same name. The story chronicles the life of Jean Valjean, a simple Frenchman who was arrested as a youth for stealing a loaf of bread. After serving five years for that crime, as well as an additional 14 for attempted escape, Valjean is released on parole. Upon changing his name and eluding his parole officer, Valjean becomes the surrogate father of a young girl and a mayor as the French Revolution sets in. As the war rages, he finds that he cannot change the man he is. Les Misérables is typical of theater in the '80s, with extravagant effects and large full-cast numbers. The beautiful score is full of emotion and humor, including such memorable and noteworthy songs as "Look Down," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "Bring Him Home," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," and the ubiquitous "On My Own." The original London cast recording is considered by many to be superior to various other releases of Les Miz, including the Broadway cast. Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle originate here the roles they played in the Broadway cast, joined by Patti LuPone and Michael Ball. An important addition to a collection for those who want a nearly complete version but who don't need the full symphonic version.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/1/2004
  • Label: First Night (Red)
  • UPC: 766927336225
  • Catalog Number: 73362

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Laurie Lewis Violin, Leader, Musician
John Cameron Synthesizer
Patti LuPone Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Peter Boita Synthesizer, Piano, Drums, Musician
Dave Burt Track Performer
Brent Forbes Bass, Musician
Peter Halling Cello, Musician
Paul Kegg Cello
Tony McVey Percussion, Musician
Chris Lacey Flute, Piccolo
Michael Ball Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Frances Ruffelle Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Paul Klegg Cello, Musician
Colin Wilkinson Vocals
Dave Willetts cast
Colm Wilkinson Track Performer, cast
Keith Burns Vocals, cast
Clive Carter Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Caroline Marwood English Horn, Oboe, Cor anglais, Musician
Andy Read Keyboards, Musician
Victor Slaymark Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Musician
Peter Washtell Synthesizer, Piano, Musician
Martin Koch Conductor, Musical Direction
Ian Laws Guitar, Musician
Andy Bruce Sounds
Ken Caswell Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Zoe Hart Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Duncan Hollowood Horn, Musician
Gary Huddlestone Vocals, cast
Pauline Leonard cast
Sally Mates Vocals, cast
Craig Pinder Vocals, cast
Peter Polycarpou Vocals
Caroline Quentin Vocals, cast
Siân Reeves Vocals, cast
Roderick Tearle Trumpet, Musician
Brian Newman Horn, Musician
Richard Bureau Violin, Musician
David Hissey Trombone, Musician
Roger Allam Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Alun Armstrong Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Jackie Marks Vocals, cast
Jill Martin Vocals, cast
Aline Mowat Vocals, cast
Rebecca Caine Vocals, cast
Beverly Klein cast
Ian Tucker Vocals, Track Performer
Robin Williams Violin, Musician
David Burt Vocals
Paul Leonard Vocals
Susan Jane Tanner Vocals, Track Performer, cast
Ian Calvin Vocals
Peter Wright Trumpet, Musician
Technical Credits
Geoffrey Burgon Composer
Richard Rodgers Composer
Burt Bacharach Composer
Carole Bayer Sager Composer
John Cameron Programming, Orchestration
Sheridan Morley Liner Notes
John Barber Author
Alain Boublil Composer, Producer, Text
John Cameron Programming
Dave Hunt Engineer
Claude-Michel Schönberg Composer, Producer
Frank Wildhorn Composer
Andy Read Director
Martin Koch Director
David Hunt Engineer
Andy Bruce Engineer
Herbert Kretzmer Lyricist
Jean-Marc Natel Text
Trevor Nunn Director, Adaptation
John Caird Director, Adaptation
Andreane Neofitou Costume Design
Stephen Schwartz Composer
Clive Hirschhorn Author
James Fenton Additional Music
Mourou Jean Claude J. Lucchetti Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    And the winner is....

    All of the commercially available recordings of Les Miserables have something great to offer, and which recording is best for you really depends on who your favorite characters are. For Valjean there are only two choices, Gary Morris on the CSR and Colm Wilkinson of all the others (OLC, OBC, and TAC). The more I listen to Colm Wilkinson, the more I appreciate Gary Morris simply because he's different. Morris is certainly not everyone's favorite, but he really does shine as the complete charater. His &quot Valjean's Soliloquy&quot is amazing, &quot Bring Him Home&quot is more subtley sung by Wilkinson, particularly on the TAC and the weight and power of Wilkinson's mature voice is a joy to hear on the TAC. I gotta say, though, I do like Gary Morris (Except for his &quot Who Am I?,&quot not his best...). There are other Valjeans out there, try to find Randall Keith singing &quot Bring Him Home,&quot you'll never hear a more tender and heart-felt rendion. Ruthie Henshall on the TAC is my absolute favorite Fantine. Her vulnerability and frailty is palpable. She sings &quot I Dreamed a Dream&quot with such sadness and desperation, you can't help but be moved. Ruthie's the best, but Patti Lupone on the OLC is also amazing. You really can't go wrong with either one. Randy Graff (OBC) is perhaps a little too strong for Fantine, and Debbie Byrne (CSR) seems to grate on many people's nerves, though I don't find her voice offensive. For Javert there is only one real choice: Philip Quast on the TAC. He also sings on the CSR, but his rich, powerful baritone is in full bloom on the TAC. Terrence Mann was very new to singing on the OBC, and while his voice has improved admirable over time, he just is not imposing enough for Javert. Roger Allam is just awful on the OLC. My favorite Cosette is Rebecca Caine on the OLC. Her wonderfully youthful tone is refreshing and innocent--perfect for the character. Judy Khun appears on the OBC and the TAC. Earlier is better for her. When the OBC recording was made, she had not yet tackled roles which required her to belt and on the TAC, we can hear the beginnings of strain in her vibrato and upper register. Tracy Shane (CSR) is also youthful sounding, but comes off sounding canned. Lea Salonga is the most finely sung Eponine on record. There is nothing lacking in her performance. Perhaps some would want a rougher-sounding Eponine, but not me! Francis Ruffelle sings on both the OBC and the OLC. London is the one to own, it's actually hard to believe this is the same person. On the OLC Ruffelle is vulnerable and engaging with just the right amount of edge to her voice. On the OBC she is harsh and seems to resort to shouting many of her lines, singing &quot On My Own&quot completely in her nose. The only recording on which Michael Ball does not appear as Marius is the OBC where David Bryant asumes the role. While Bryant isn't horrible, the youthful Ball on the OLC and CSR is the way to go. On the TAC he goes too far and while clearly enjoying himself and the atmosphere of the live recording, he also clearly enjoys the sond of his own voice more. Enjolras is a toss-up between Michael Maguire on the OBC (for the love of all that is holy not on the TAC!!!)and Anthony Warlow on the CSR. My vote is for Warlow. His voice is powerful, his technique secure and his tone capable of being both warm and heroic. David Burt is not worth hearing on the OLC. You can't go wrong with the Thenardiers on the TAC (Alun Armstrong and Jenny Galloway also appear on the OLC). The energy the give and receive to and from the audience is amazing. The CSR has the best orchestra, the TAC has the best emsemble and the OBC has the best orchestrations, though it's cool to hear the originals on the OLC. So that's it! Something for everyone on every single recording! Hope this helps make your decisions!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great musical

    Classic musical. Outstanding vocal performances.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A must have for all collectors of theatre soundtracks

    This is a "must have" for anyone looking to collect soundtracks of Broadway/West End musicals. Its importance in a collection is pretty much summed up by the fact that Les Mis is the longest running musical in London's West End (24 years and counting). The original cast recording of the West End show is by far my favorite! Even though, some of the original London cast also performed on Broadway in New York's production of Les Mis, there is just something that makes the West End soundtrack extra special. It may just be that I am a huge fan of Frances Ruffelle and Colm Wilkinson. Even though they were part of the original New York cast as well, and with much success I may add, there is just something about their first London performance that really hits deep within me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    In My Opinion, the Definative Recording of Les Miserables!

    Les Miserables is arguably the greatest musical ever written. Even those who would not agree with this assessment have to acknowledge that it is a powerful, beautifully scored musical that has left its mark forever on the world of musical theater. It is alternately epic and intimate, political and personal. It is a musical that bombards the senses with big ideas and even bigger emotions. Les Miserables has become- deservedly so- a worldwide sensation. However, of all of the cast recordings and shows of Les Miserables I have listened to, this Original London Cast stands out as the best recording of a much-loved show. Each actor/singer is at the top of their game and spot on their roles, giving heart-wrenching performances that linger in the mind of the listener long after they have set aside the CD. Colm Wilkinson is the original and definitive Jean Valjean, who plays hardened criminal searching to redeem himself of the crimes he committed and find peace. He not only SINGS the part, but acts it as well, evolving the complex character of Valjean with his search for salvation. Roger Allam also gives a remarkable performance, making a character the audience would immediately dislike, and has it instead fall in love (or at least understand) him. I was blown away by his rendition of &quot Stars&quot , truly amazing. He fills the characters shoes perfectly, he sounds tough and intimidating, a truly complex and interesting character performed beautifully. Fantine is played to perfection by the incredible Patti Lupone. She is one of the few Fantines who sings the role instead of wailing it. She brings a fragility to the role that many other actresses often overlook. If LuPone's &quot I Dreamed a Dream&quot doesn't bring you close to tears, you have heart made of stone. Michael Ball was the first and the definitive Marius. His singing and acting are great, and he makes a potentially sentimental character believable and even likable. Alun Armstrong conveys the sinister aspect of the rogue innkeeper, Thenardier, and his excellent Cockney accent (though some thought off-putting) seems actually fitting for the role, giving a sense that this is a character who comes from the bottom of the class system. Frances Ruffelle's Eponine is nothing short of miraculous. Each syllable, each note beautifully and hauntingly conveys the portrait of a young woman who loves totally and completely- even though she knows she will never be loved back. Some find Lea Salonga's version with her refined voice preferable, but I think that Ruffelle's different voice and gritty tone perfect for the part of Eponine adding a great deal of realism to the character, her haunting ballad &quot On My Own&quot completely steals the show. Cosette is (like Marius) much more believable in this recording. An extra song given to her adds a great deal of depth to the character which is lost when the song was cut from the Broadway version. The only London cast member who I personally thought was bettered by the Broadway actor is the character of Enjolras. David Burt on the London recording does a very good job. His voice is light but pleasant, and he is able to sound sufficiently heroic. But Michael Maguire on the Broadway recording is in a different league all together. His entrance in &quot One Day More&quot is spine-tingling, as is his opening in &quot Do You Hear the People Sing?&quot . Overall though, the London cast version has a vastly superior quality to it than its Broadway counterpart. Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg's score is filled with beautiful ballads &quot Bring Him Home&quot , &quot I Dreamed a Dream&quot , &quot On My Own&quot and rousing anthems such as &quot One Day More&quot and &quot Do You Hear the People Sing?&quot Victor Hugo's classic novel of a student uprising in early-19th-century France provides a compelling story line that continues to thrill audiences

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    If you are a Les Mis fan, THIS is the album. Including the original London cast, this rendition puts the heart and the soul into the music and the story. While the 10th anniversary offering at Royal Albert Hall is a gem, this takes the listener back to the beginning and plunges you into the sights and sounds that only Les Mis can give. The other renditions are fine (for what they are), but this is the 'must have' if you truly want to experience the emotional highs and lows of the best opera of the 20th century.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The original and most lyrical

    “Les Miserables” is a marvelous musical a stunningly faithful interpretation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, with an inspiring storyline and unforgettable characters. There are 4 major full-length English versions available (Original London Cast, Original Broadway Cast, Complete Symphonic Recording, and Tenth Anniversary Concert). The truth is, that if you were marooned on that proverbial desert island, any of them would be better than none, but we normally have the luxury of choice. There are 2 reasons for buying a Les Mis CD – (1) you’ve seen a performance and want ONE CD to remind you of it or (2) you’ve become a les Mis junkie (like me) and want multiple versions so you too can hold forth on the rival merits of Andy Warlow vs Michael Maguire, Patty LuPone vs Ruthie Henshaw, Frances Ruffelle vs Kaho Shimada vs Lea Solonga. If you are in the first category, you really want the Tenth Anniversary Concert. The TAC has the complete storyline (albeit slightly abridged), it was recorded live (so there’s an unique emotional intensity and chemistry between performers), and from top to bottom it has by far the best cast. However, if you’re a serious Les Mis fan, you should buy this CD in addition. It captures the original version that actually launched the phenomenon. It contains material that is not available on any other CD, lost as a result of the revisions made before the Broadway opening. The original version of “Little People: is much longer and more comical. “I was him once” gives Cossette some depth. The pace is slower than the current version, which helps to bring out the nuances in the performances. As a result, it feels like a different piece of music and provides a legitimate option to alternate with one of the others. The OLC has fine voices in every role, although not always the strongest available. It is lyrical and pleasant to listen to, especially in contrast to the rougher feel of the OBC, although it lacks the intensity of the TAC. Colm Wilkinson (THE definitive Jean Valjean) in particular is at his most melodic with a sensitive emotional portrayal. Michael Ball (THE definitive Marius) is wonderful as always. Patty LuPone (Fantine) created the role and sings it with great sadness and power. Rebecca Caine (Cossette) is suitably sweet. Frances Ruffelle created the role of Eponine although she wails and screeches on the OBC, she is poignant and believable here without assaulting our ears. Roger Allam (Javert) and David Burt (Enjolras) both have pleasant voices, although neither has the power or emotional intensity of Philip Quast, Michael Maguire or Andy Warlow. Importantly, no one makes me want to throw things at the CD player, like Randy Graff, David Bryant and Francis Ruffelle (OBC) or Gary Morris and Tracy Shayne (CSR) do. I find it the most beautiful version and personally rank it #2 in my collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This is the best cast!

    My friend has this cd, and we were listining to it. I didn't really like it at first, but when I heard it a couple times, the song Red and Black was stuck in my head, and the same for One Day More. Colm Wilkinson does a fantastic Val Jean, and Michael Ball likes to play the romantic intrest does an awsome Marius. Patti LuPone did a fantastic Evita, so for her playing Fantine, it's amazing. This cast cannot get any better, and I am hoping to buy this cd!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews