An Evening with Lerner & Loewe
For this two-LP set of music by the Broadway/Hollywood songwriting team of lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, RCA Victor hired four singers -- film star Jane Powell, comedian Phil Harris, and opera stars Robert Merrill and Jan Peerce -- and set them loose on the Lerner and Loewe catalog (accompanied by Johnny Green & His Orchestra), with one LP side each devoted to excerpts from Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, and Gigi (the first three stage musicals, the last a movie musical, of course). The question is whether these two discs of Lerner and Loewe's music constitute something definitive, or just a grab-bag of odd performances. The answer is something in between, though a bit closer to the latter. The recordings aren't really studio cast performances in that the singers don't stick to particular characters; in Gigi, for example, Powell may be Gigi on one track and Madame Alvarez on another. But the orchestrations come from the Broadway productions. Merrill, Peerce, and Powell take the recordings as an opportunity to exercise their operetta chops, paying more attention to vocal tone than characterization. So, for instance, Powell's "Show Me" may be the least angry ever put on record. Harris, for his part, does nothing more than perform as himself. He makes no attempt to adopt a French or British accent, relying on his Midwestern American twang throughout.