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The revival cast recording (with Rebecca Luker) 
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Post The revival cast recording (with Rebecca Luker)
I got a copy of this to listen to when I was in the show a few years ago, but didn't listen to it all that much as I was already so familiar with the music.
But I pulled it out and started listening to it again, and... I am really not impressed. Is it a bad cast? Bad recording? I loved Rebecca Luker as Magnolia, but in this she sounds... just... weird. Like she's trying too hard to say "I'm not trying to sound like Julie".
the only voice I really like is the Captain's.
And why does it sound like both Captain and Maria call Kurt "Cort" in the Lendler(sp?) dance scene?

Your thoughts?

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Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:07 am
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Yeah, I definitely agree that Luker is trying to hard to be a soprano Maria but not sound like Julie Andrews.

My personal favorite recording is the one with Mary Martin. I think after the film, Maria magically became a soprano role, but I prefer it played by a contralto.


Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:04 am
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Any ideas on why it sounds like "Cort" instead of Kurt?

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Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:52 am
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I think that's the weird attempt at an ambiguous European accent.


Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:45 pm
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Tony Winner
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How very funny you should mention this. I would say that I liked this much more than most of you. Luker's Maria is, at least to my ears, sublime. The only problem I have with this disc is that the sound seems so very compressed, and that the volume seems to be too low. Nevertheless I still recommend it to those who want an SOM cast album.
Yes, I can tell that Kurt's name wasn't pronounced as you would be used to, but I think this is how the name is supposed to be pronounced in German.


Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:16 pm
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Yip1982 wrote:
Nevertheless I still recommend it to those who want an SOM cast album.
Nooooo, nono! The only SOM recording thats worthwhile is the original Broadway cast with the incomparable Mary Martin.


Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:57 pm
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Post Recordings of THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Trying to select a definitive recording of The Sound of Music - if there is such a thing - is a difficult task because of varying performances as well as the varying versions of the score.

The 1959 cast recording of The Sound of Music is interesting as a museum piece, but not much more. The playing of the score is more than a trifle heavy-handed and the singing all but stalls. South Pacific aside, Mary Martin is a Broadway diva whose appeal I've never understood. Although the show was created for her, she is far too mature for the role and you can hear it. The recording preserves the score as it was heard in 1959, meaning that: "My Favourite Things" is sung by Maria and the Mother Abbess (in a weakly contrived dramatic situation); we get both of the Max and Elsa songs, which really don't conceptually fit into this show despite their own considerable merits as songs; and the duet for Maria and the Captain is the dirge-like ballad "An Ordinary Couple, which sounds like a defeat rather than an affirmation. The 1961 London cast recording is in a similar vein - but if you're going for one of the early recordings, the OBCR is probably the one to choose.

The 1965 film soundtrack gives us a radiant Maria in Julie Andrews who manages to find considerable range in the material, a sharper group of children that doesn't sound like there is syrup dripping off their chords and a great set of orchestrations by Irwin Kostal that truly brings the score to life. There are some cuts in the score owing in part to Ernest Lehman having focused the stronger points of the book and having dramatically improved upon some of the weaker areas; the Max and Elsa songs are cut so you'd have to look for them elsewhere and "An Ordinary Couple" is replaced by the much better but still not perfect "Something Good". "My Favourite Things" is shifted from the office of the Mother Abbess to the bedroom scene and "The Lonely Goatherd" becomes a puppet show later in the film, both creating a far clearer picture of the growing attachment between Maria and the children. Together, these various aspects work to form a score that is far more conceptually cohesive.

The 1998 cast recording takes its cues from a production that tried have its cake and eat it by incorporating material from both the original stage show and the film, while adopting certain aspects of the film's structure. Rebecca Luker is a Maria in the Julie Andrews mode - youthful and resilient, while still finding some depth in the material and Patti Cohenour finally gives us a Mother Abbess who sounds like a vital, dynamic and inspiring woman rather than a dusty voice from the past, one who is capable of running a convent and convincing a young postulant to follow the right path. The Max and Elsa songs are there, delivered in fine form by Fred Applegate and Jan Maxwell (with Michael Siberry along for the ride in "No Way to Stop It"), and the only things missing are "An Ordinary Couple" (supplanted by "Something Good") and the concert reprise of "Do Re Mi" (which is deleted to make room for "The Lonely Goatherd", for which a place had to be found after its replacement in the bedroom scene by "My Favourite Things"). The recording also incorporates a slightly altered version of the film's "I Have Confidence".

The 2006 cast recording, from the West End, follows a similar approach to the 1998 Broadway recording. However, Carrie Fisher never achieves the range of Luker (or, for that matter, Andrews on the soundtrack). Both versions of "My Favourite Things" appear here and "The Lonely Goatherd" becomes a game in the garden for the children. While it's pleasant enough, there's nothing special about this recording to edge it ahead of the others.

If you want to collect a representative set of recordings for the show, I'd lead with the 1965 soundtrack, complemented by the 1998 cast recording. To this, add the 1959 cast recording if you really want to own "An Ordinary Couple". You only need the other recordings if you're a completist or a die-hard fan. (There is also a studio cast recording form 1987 with Frederika von Stade which, a breathtaking "Processional" aside, is rather restrained.)

Later days
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Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:18 am
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Post Re: Recordings of THE SOUND OF MUSIC
I feel very heartened by your detailed breakdown of the various Sound of Music albums. I like the way you analyse them carefully and objectively. (Funny I felt the same way you did at some points.) I think your assessment will be an invaluable guide to those who need to read a comparative breakdown of the various recordings.


Sat Sep 20, 2008 3:23 am
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Post Re: Recordings of THE SOUND OF MUSIC
RainbowJude wrote:
Trying to select a definitive recording of The Sound of Music - if there is such a thing - is a difficult task because of varying performances as well as the varying versions of the score.

The 1965 film soundtrack gives us a radiant Maria in Julie Andrews who manages to find considerable range in the material, a sharper group of children that doesn't sound like there is syrup dripping off their chords and a great set of orchestrations by Irwin Kostal that truly brings the score to life.
Later days
David


Irwin was also the conductor; in that role, much of his work seemed to be managing the sheer power of his very powerful orchestra (probably about 75 pieces, as it was for Mary Poppins a year earlier). In particular, Irwin took great care that the orchestra never overpowered the kids, least of all the little ones. The best example was for Kym Karath's line in "So Long, Farewell": As she pushed her way backward upstairs, singing "The sun has gone to bed and so must I", Irwin slowed his tempo to a crawl; I can visualize him physically reining in the orchestra to reduce its volume to just barely audible over Kym's voice. He repeated that in the reprise of "My Favorite Things", just before Maria's return from the Abbey: The kids, mainly the younger ones, started singing listlessly; Irwin cut in the orchestra behind them, allowing it to drift along with the kids - until Maria's voice cut across. As the kids' spirits soared, and they started singing more energetically, Irwin powered up behind them to near maximum. Throughout "Do-Re-Mi", the kids were very exuberant; Irwin keyed his power accordingly. Near the end, he went from minimum, to just slightly above (through the "do-mi-mi" sequence), then suddenly ripping loose at max power for the final chorus. The last suggests to me a French TGV driver entering a high-speed line, then slamming his power controller wide open, and whoosh!


Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:18 am
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Rainbow Jude really doesnt understand that the max/elsa duets DO fit and are sadly missed if they are ever cut.


I hated Siberry's Von Trapp voice in teh revial it was weak..it was not the rich Theodore Bikel voice at all..but Jan Maxwell and Fred Applegate are brillaiant as Elas and Max.

Patti Cohneour is the finest mother abbess since patricaia neway ..and rebecca luker does her bet with sappy songs as maria.

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Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:31 pm
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Post Max and Elsa
Salome wrote:
RainbowJude really doesn't understand that the Max/Elsa duets DO fit and are sadly missed if they are ever cut.


On the contrary, RainbowJude really does understand the problem with the Max/Elsa duets. Emphasizing again that the songs have their own individual merits, he would like to point out that they turn the dramatic purpose of the show - to reveal that those who discover "the sound of music" in their lives are the people who survive and truly live rather than merely existing - into a lie.

Allowing Max and Elsa to sing, when it is clear that they do not possess "the sound of music" spiritually because of their blind materialism and apathetic politics, is simply poor judgment in terms of dramaturgy. No matter how good the songs are on their on terms - no matter how much of a respite they give us from the rest of the show - they do not support the super-objective of the play as a whole. They all but render it neutral.

The issue here is not "to cut or not to cut", because that option is not really on the table for any production of The Sound of Music. The issue here is about textual analysis.

All things being said and done, the songs should have been cut at the outset: this isn't a Brechtian play where the music is meant to inspire critical engagement rather than dramatic involvement. But - to compensate for this - the rest of the score would have had to be considerably sharpened. However, the tight timeline against which, out of unfortunate necessity, the show was written didn't allow for for the kind of editing and revision that any show needs before it is frozen.

As such, The Sound of Music will never be an artistic masterwork like South Pacific. At the same time, given the context of its creation, it is almost ridiculous to expect it to be.

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Sun Sep 21, 2008 8:48 pm
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you simply dont cut 2 of the only 3 good songs in the piece because of your personal opinion.

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