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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



GUYS and DOLLS – THE KING AND I - ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDINGS
Guys and Dolls:

Runyandland Music; Fugue for Tin Horns; Follow the Fold; The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York; I’ll know; A Bushel and a Peck; Adelaide’s Lament; Guys and Dolls; If I were a Bell; My Time of Day; I’ve never been in Love before; Take Back Your Mink; Luck be a Lady Tonight; Sue me; Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat; Marry the Man Today; Finale

Sarah Brown – Isabel Bigley, Sky Masterson – Robert Alda, Nathan Detroit – Sam Levene, Miss Adelaide – Vivian Blaine, Nicely-Nicely Johnson – Stubby Kaye, Benny Southstreet – Johnny Silver, Rusty Charlie – Douglas Deane, Arvide Abernathy – Pat Rooney Sr. Orchestra cond. Irving Actman
The King and I

Overture, I whistle a Happy Tune, My Lord and Master,
Hello Young Lovers, March of the Siamese Children, A Puzzlement, Getting to Know You, We Kiss in a Shadow, Something Wonderful, I Have Dreamed, Shall We Dance?

Anna Leonowens – Gertrude Lawrence, Lady Thiang – Dorothy Sarnoff, Lun Tha – Larry Douglas, The King of Siam – Yul Brynner, Tuptim – Doretta Morrow. Orchestra cond. Frederick Dvonch
Guys & Dolls recorded 1950, The King & I recorded 1951
FORUM FRC6104 [74:18]


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These original cast recordings are great fun, and, though they are not recorded at live performances, have a tangible immediacy and period feel to them. Many of these songs are now classics, and the ones from Guys and Dolls in particular are here sung by the performers with whom they are most strongly associated. The Fugue for Tin Horns as performed here by the great Stubby Kaye and friends is of course a classic, and there are many more delights. I loved the humour and sheer joie de vivre of Isabel Bigley’s If I were a Bell, and Vivian Blaine, in Adelaide’s Lament, manages to be both hilarious and touching. On the minus side, Robert Alda is a distinctly smarmy-voiced male lead (listen to the way he sings ‘I’ve never been in lurv before’, for example!), which is a pity, as he rather spoils the duet with Bigley, I’ll Know. Nonetheless, the performances have a really authenticity to them, and all the panache of the show is here.

The same goes for The King and I, though of course it’s a very different type of show from Guys and Dolls. Where the latter is economical, getting its results in the simplest and most direct ways, Rogers and Hammerstein were aiming at something much more sophisticated and romantically intense. Some of the more ‘serious’ numbers have, I find, dated; My Lord and Master, and Something Wonderful for example, might be a little hard to take for some, but there’s always the lightness of I whistle a happy tune, or the mock-oriental charm of March of the Siamese Children. And some of the musical subtleties are genuinely impressive; take the complex key and chord structures of We kiss in the shadows, which contribute to its poignancy of expression.

If you’re old enough to remember the early 50s, this will take you back in the most painless way possible; if you’re not – get wise!

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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