Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd

Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd

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by Ulf Schirmer
     
 
Even though this German production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" may be greeted with some skepticism, it is a remarkable performance in English that is fairly free of language problems and surprisingly faithful to classic recordings of this operatic musical. With Mark Stone as Sweeney, Jane Henschel as Mrs. Lovett,

Overview

Even though this German production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" may be greeted with some skepticism, it is a remarkable performance in English that is fairly free of language problems and surprisingly faithful to classic recordings of this operatic musical. With Mark Stone as Sweeney, Jane Henschel as Mrs. Lovett, Gregg Baker as Anthony, and Rebecca Bottone as Johanna, the cast consciously aims toward a vague approximation of Cockney, intermittently applied, and there are only a few moments in the choral numbers where the Bavarian Radio Choir sings with obvious traces of a German accent. Henschel doesn't sing with the nasal twang associated with Angela Lansbury, though it takes a lot of effort to impersonate that voice, and she was wise to avoid such affectation. Similarly, Stone doesn't growl as fiercely as Len Cariou, and he pursues a richer, more mellifluous interpretation of the character. The highlight of the show is the duet "A Little Priest," which gives Henschel and Stone their most comic moments and steals the show. The Munich Radio Orchestra is conducted by Ulf Schirmer, and they provide a warm and luscious accompaniment to the singing, and the spontaneity of the live performance makes this feel convincingly like a fully staged version. "Sweeney Todd" has enjoyed many productions in Germany, and this BR Klassik recording will do well there, though it needs wider distribution in the United States to compete with the original Broadway and London cast recordings.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/29/2013
Label:
Br Klassiks
UPC:
4035719003161
catalogNumber:
900316
Rank:
150284

Related Subjects

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Act 1. Prologue / The Ballad of Sweeney Todd
  2. Act 1. No Place Like London
  3. Act 1. The Worst Pies in London
  4. Act 1. Poor Thing
  5. Act 1. My Friends
  6. Act 1. Green Finch and Linnet Bird
  7. Act 1. Ah, Miss
  8. Act 1. Johanna
  9. Act 1. Pirelli's Miracle Elixer / Pirelli's Entrance
  10. Act 1. The Contest / The Ballad of Sweeney Todd
  11. Act 1. Johanna
  12. Act 1. Wait
  13. Act 1. Pirelli's Death
  14. Act 1. The Ballad of Sweeney Todd
  15. Act 1. Kiss Me (Part 1)
  16. Act 1. Ladies In Their Sensitivities
  17. Act 1. Kiss Me (Part 2)
  18. Act 1. Pretty Women
  19. Act 1. Epiphany
  20. Act 1. A Little Priest

Disc 2

  1. Act 2. God, That's Good!
  2. Act 2. Johanna / Act 2 Sequence
  3. Act 2. By The Sea
  4. Act 2. Wigmaker Sequence
  5. Act 2. The Letter
  6. Act 2. Not While I'm Around
  7. Act 2. Parlor Songs
  8. Act 2. Fogg's Asylum / Fogg's Passacaglia
  9. Act 2. City On Fire
  10. Act 2. Searching
  11. Act 2. Judge's Return
  12. Act 2. Final Scene (Part 1)
  13. Act 2. Final Scene (Part 2)

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ulf Schirmer   Primary Artist,Conductor
Jonathan Best   Vocals
Mark Stone   Vocals
Diana DiMarzio   Vocals
Ronald Samm   Vocals
Münchner Rundfunkorchester   Performing Ensemble
Jane Henschel   Vocals
Gregg Baker   Vocals
Andrew Lepri Meyer   Vocals
Rebecca Bottone   Vocals
Andreas Hirtreiter   Vocals
Bernhard Schneider   Vocals
Bavarian Radio Chorus   Choir, Chorus
Adrian Dwyer   Vocals
Pascal Charbonneau   Vocals

Technical Credits

Stephen Sondheim   Composer,Lyricist
Christopher Bond   Adaptation
Wolfgang Schreiner   Executive Producer
Jonathan Tunick   Orchestration
Hugh Wheeler   Book
Lucia Giessübel   Engineer
David Ingram   Liner Note Translation
Christian Götz   Dialogue Director
Wolfgang Aschenbrenner   Liner Notes
Eva-Maria Koller   Synopsis

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Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
carefulconsideration More than 1 year ago
A Cut Below the Rest This 2012 adaptation recording of the “Sweeney Todd” musical play recycles the dregs of the butcher shop from Stephen Sondheim’s repertoire. Acclaimed throughout the musical world complete with awards and multiple revivals, this macabre production is re-ground again in the twenty-first century. This composition emerged during a time of numerous grisly stage presentations, but its revival still drips. The voices of the players, however, reflect their training; Jane Henschel, Mark Stone, and the other performers bring beautiful voices to their characters. Some warbly textures may be characteristic of musical projection on the stage. But the story is neither appealing nor credible; the tunes are lacking in melody, and the characters are not convincing. An exception is the character of Mrs. Lovett, which provides much-needed comic relief with frenetic humor and hysteria. The Münchner Rundfunkorchester supports the performance with fine quality of sound. The jacket and cover caution the unwary to don plastic gloves before opening. The booklet explanation clearly describes the ghastly setting and synopsis of scenes, so the listener is forewarned. The recording must be paired with a visual performance, however, or much understanding of the story will be lost. The thoughtful audience could possibly consider a Dickensian similarity of oppression and hopelessness as the driving force of the story. Is Sondheim trying to portray kinds of love which survive despair and hate? Is the underlying message “Revenge will consume and destroy you”? Does Sondheim allude to these themes of love and revenge which are the basis of so many operas in performance today? To be sure, very famous stars appearing in this musical have generated past success and may now renew interest. Audiences and reviewers may be attracted by the macabre and appalling. It is astounding that such a tale and composition would again attract the support of underwriters, producers, performers, and audiences.