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Rodgers & Hammerstein's Allegro - First Complete Recording
     

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Allegro - First Complete Recording

4.0 2
by Rodgers & Hammerstein
 
Written in 1947, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Allegro follows Oklahoma (1943) and Carousel (1945) and precedes South Pacific (1949) and The King and I (1951), a period when R&H were at their creative zenith. The musical tells the story of an earnest country doctor, Joseph Taylor Jr., following his life from cradle to adulthood and his

Overview

Written in 1947, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Allegro follows Oklahoma (1943) and Carousel (1945) and precedes South Pacific (1949) and The King and I (1951), a period when R&H were at their creative zenith. The musical tells the story of an earnest country doctor, Joseph Taylor Jr., following his life from cradle to adulthood and his journey from a small town to the big city and back again. The score is unconventional: Fragments of song move in and out of the action like passing thoughts; melodies flit by in one scene only to take hold and blossom in the next. Major songs are given to minor characters, while the central character has comparatively little solo work; at the same time, a chorus provides spoken commentary and sings aloud their inner thoughts. Agnes de Mille’s ballet sequences are reflected in intriguing orchestral pieces, alongside such songs as “The Gentleman is a Dope,” “So Far,” “A Fellow Needs a Girl” and the spirited title song.

This first complete recording features Tony winners and nominees Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Norbert Leo Butz, Patrick Wilson, Judy Kuhn, Liz Callaway, Danny Burstein, and opera baritone Nathan Gunn. From the Label

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Between 1943 and 1951, Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote five Broadway musicals, four of which -- Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I -- became huge hits with long runs, million-selling cast albums, movie adaptations (with million-selling soundtrack albums), and frequent revivals. The fifth show, which curiously came right in the middle, was Allegro (1947), a flop that was nearly forgotten, preserved only on a 33-minute cast album. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, which administers the songwriters' properties, has an obvious interest in promoting their works, and it is behind this years-in-the-making all-star two-CD studio cast album of Allegro, billed as the "first complete recording." Ted Chapin, president and executive director of the organization, served as a co-producer and annotator on a project that had no deadline, but apparently did have certain budget constraints. The producers first went to Eastern Europe (where it's cheaper to hire musicians) to have the Istropolis Philharmonic Orchestra record the instrumental score, then, over a period of two years, waited out the schedules of a dream cast of Tony Award-winning actors and actresses to overdub their parts one by one. That's a far cry from the single day usually mandated by Actors Equity for the cast of Broadway musical to get together in a recording studio and make a cast album. Allegro, remembered as Rodgers & Hammerstein's most experimental work, has a plot so simple and familiar as to be mundane. Running from 1905 to 1940, it follows the life of a country doctor, Joseph Taylor, Jr. (Patrick Wilson), from birth to middle age, as he marries, leaves his small town for a big city and, after becoming disillusioned, leaves his ambitious, unfaithful wife and returns home. Oscar Hammerstein II, whose original libretto was not based on any earlier source, had told similar kinds of stories in such musicals as Show Boat and Music in the Air. His intention, imperfectly expressed, was not simply to illustrate the old adage that power corrupts, but to point out that the trappings of success can distract a person from the work that produced the success in the first place. It's a subtle and hardly universal problem, and it's easy to see how Hammerstein's point might have been missed, especially because the form of Allegro was so unusual. The innovative staging aspects are not apparent on any recording, but the score is also out of the ordinary, relying heavily on choral parts to tell the story, with the main character given relatively little to do (the major singing parts go to the doctor's mother, played by Audra McDonald, his grandmother, played by Marni Nixon, and his wife, played by Laura Benanti) and some of the major songs given to minor characters (notably the one song that successfully emerged from the score, "The Gentleman Is a Dope," sung by Liz Callaway, and "So Far," later interpolated into the 1995 stage version of the 1945 movie musical State Fair, sung by Judy Kuhn). In his liner notes, Chapin says that he wanted "to see if we could experience Allegro in a form that would show what it was, so we could judge for ourselves...whether it deserves attention." That intention is satisfied by the recording, which may give the score its best possible reading. Certainly, McDonald, in such songs as "A Fellow Needs a Girl" and "Come Home," and Wilson, singing "You Are Never Away," provoke a reconsideration of a score that has obvious echoes of its immediate predecessors, Carousel and State Fair. (It also recalls some of Rodgers' work with his previous collaborator, Lorenz Hart, not only because of the interpolation of their song "Mountain Greenery" in a 1920s dance sequence, but also because of the similarity of the title song to "Johnny One-Note.") But Allegro's music often sounds like retreads of those predecessors, and the heavy use of the chorus makes the story self-consciously literary; its failure as a theatrical work doesn't seem surprising, given that it often comes off less as a musical theater work than as a 100-minute cantata. So, this studio cast recording doesn't seem likely to breed a rash of regional productions or a Broadway revival. But it does bring back, for fans of musicals, some worthy music by one of Broadway's greatest songwriting teams, most of it barely heard in the 60 years since the original production closed. (To voice the many brief spoken parts, the producers have done some surprising stunt casting, including the theater critics John Simon and Howard Kissel; Hammerstein's protégé Stephen Sondheim, who, as a teenager, was an assistant on the 1947 production; and even Hammerstein himself, by way of a Dictaphone recording.)

Product Details

Release Date:
02/03/2009
Label:
Masterworks
UPC:
0886974173823
catalogNumber:
741738
Rank:
6061

Related Subjects

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Act 1. Overture
  2. Act 1. Opening (Joseph Taylor, Jr.)
  3. Act 1. I Know It Can Happen Again
  4. Act 1. Pudgy Legs
  5. Act 1. Dialogue / One Foot, Other Foot
  6. Act 1. One Foot, Other Foot
  7. Act 1. Children's Dance
  8. Act 1. Grandmother's Death
  9. Act 1. Winters Go By
  10. Act 1. Dialogue / Poor Joe
  11. Act 1. Poor Joe
  12. Act 1. Diploma
  13. Act 1. A Fellow Needs A Girl
  14. Act 1. Freshman Get Together (with "Mountain Greenery")
  15. Act 1. Freshman Get Together (with "Mountain Greenery"). Dream Sequence
  16. Act 1. Freshman Get Together (with "Mountain Greenery"). Pas de Deux
  17. Act 1. Freshman Get Together (with "Mountain Greenery"). End Of College
  18. Act 1. Wildcats
  19. Act 1. Jennie Reads Letter
  20. Act 1. Scene of Professors
  21. Act 1. So Far
  22. Act 1. You Are Never Away
  23. Act 1. You Are Never Away (Encore)
  24. Act 1. Dialogue / Poor Joe (Reprise)
  25. Act 1. Poor Joe (Reprise)
  26. Act 1. Marjories's Death
  27. Act 1. What A Lovely Day For A Wedding!
  28. Act 1. It May Be A Good Idea
  29. Act 1. Finale

Disc 2

  1. Act 2. Entr'acte
  2. Act 2. Opening
  3. Act 2. Money Isn't Everything
  4. Act 2. Dance (Money Isn't Everything)
  5. Act 2. Dialogue / Poor Joe (Reprise)
  6. Act 2. Poor Joe (Reprise)
  7. Act 2. Dialogue / You Are Never Away (Reprise)
  8. Act 2. A Fellow Needs A Girl (Reprise)
  9. Act 2. Yatata
  10. Act 2. The Gentleman is a Dope
  11. Act 2. Dialogue / Allegro
  12. Act 2. Allegro
  13. Act 2. Allegro Ballet
  14. Act 2. Come Home
  15. Act 2. Finale Ultimo

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rodgers & Hammerstein   Primary Artist
Larry Blank   Conductor
Marni Nixon   Vocals,Actor
Katie Geissinger   Vocals
Gregory Purnhagen   Vocals
Patrick Wilson   Vocals,Actor
Liz Callaway   Vocals,Actor
Craig Montgomery   Vocals
Judy Kuhn   Vocals,Actor
Harvey Evans   Vocals,Actor
Nedra Neal   Vocals
Maureen Brennan   Vocals
Bernard Gersten   Actor
Howard Kissel   Actor
Anthony Piccolo   Children's Choirmaster
Bruce Pomahac   Musical Direction
Audra McDonald   Vocals,Actor
Tim Matson   Actor
Danny Egan   Vocals
Michael McCoy   Vocals
Laura Benanti   Vocals,Actor
Nathan Gunn   Vocals
Sarah Pillow   Vocals
Danny Burstein   Vocals,Actor
Adam Alexander   Vocals
Kurt Peterson   Actor
Viktor Simcisko   Concert Master
Norbert Leo Butz   Vocals
Rob Shapiro   Actor
Judith Blazer   Vocals
Schuyler G. Chapin   Actor
Ray DeMattis   Actor
Gregory Davidson   Vocals

Technical Credits

Richard Rodgers   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Lyricist,Book
Stephen Sondheim   Liner Notes
Robert Russell Bennett   Orchestration
Scott Lehrer   Engineer
Kirk Yano   Engineer
Bert Fink   Liner Notes
Václav Frkal   Engineer
Bruce Pomahac   Producer,Synopsis
W. Eugene Smith   Cover Photo
Trude Rittman   Arranger,Dance Arrangement
David Lai   Producer
Isaiah Abolin   Engineer
Martin Roller   Engineer
Elizabeth A. Wright   Product Development

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Rodgers & Hammerstein's Allegro - First Complete Recording 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago