August 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Curio Corner

Compilation: Richard RODGERS
My Favourite Things  
  Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra
  RCA VICTOR 09026 63835 2   [58:33]

My Favorite Things

  • 01. Main Title (Oklahoma!) (expanded film version)
  • 02. "My Favorite Things" (The Sound of Music) (vocalist - Martina McBride)
  • 03. "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" (Oklahoma!) (arranged by John Williams, orchestrated by Sammy Nestico)
  • 04. Overture to "Babes in Arms" - orchestration augmented by Danny Troob
  • 05. "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" (On Your Toes) (version arranged for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra by Hans Spialek)
  • 06. "March of the Clowns" (Nursery Ballet) (world premiere recording of recently rediscovered work)
  • 07. "I Have Dreamed" (The King and I) (vocalist - Jason Danieley)
  • 08. "Grant Avenue" (Flower Drum Song) (arranged by Don Sebesky)
  • 09. "D-Day" (Victory at Sea) ( new version arranged for the current album)
  • 10. "The Sound of Music" (The Sound of Music) (vocalist - Collin Raye)
  • 11. "Mountain Greenery" (The Garrick Gaieties of 1926) (arranged by Sammy Nestico)
  • 12. "The Carousel Waltz" (Carousel)
  • 13. "Shall We Dance?" (The King and I)

In the centenary year of the great Broadway composer Richard Rodgers - famed for his collaborations first with Lorenz Hart and then Oscar Hammerstein II - we can expect many celebratory releases, and this is a good place to start. While not directly appealing to the film music collector there is nevertheless much here to appeal to film music aficionados, not the least because many of Richard Rodger's musicals became famous movies. Beyond that, the album is performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra and conducted by Keith Lockhart, John Williams' successor as Principal Conductor of that institution. Strengthening the Williams connection further, the album is produced and engineered by Shawn Murphy, a familiar name from John Williams soundtracks, and the disc features Williams' own arrangement of "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" from Oklahoma!

Rodgers was as successful and popular a tunesmith as Williams is today, his songs being known around the world to the extend that it is surprising to find this is a largely instrumental album. The disc begins as one might expect, with the expanded arrangement of the overture from the film version of Oklahoma! followed by a song from The Sound of Music - and the title tune of the disc. But then there are surprises in store. "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" is an orchestral instrument filled with beguiling melody. Then comes the overture from the 1937 musical Babes in Arms, from which Rodgers managed to omit the tunes "The Lady is a Tramp" and "My Funny Valentine"! Film music fans will be particularly taken with the orchestral jazz arrangement of the ballet "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue", originally written for On Your Toes. This is an eight minute showcase of sweeping melody, rhythmic invention and drama which really gives the Boston Pops Orchestra a chance to shine.

"March of the Clowns" is a short, recently rediscovered piece based on a theme from the 1935 film Jumbo, and is in a similar style to "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue", though with a more carefree circus style march forming the finale. The first false note is struck with "I Have Dreamed" from The King and I. Jason Danieley's vocal styling of the opening lines is simply wrong for this music, veering dangerously close to that of the contemporary pop-rock ballad, or the sickly sweet duets which pollute the Disney animations of the last decade. Once he is allowed to open up he develops more appropriate light tenor phrasings, but the taint of more modern commercial music lingers uneasily. Collin Raye's approach to the titular tune from The Sound of Music likewise borders on more recent pop stylings and lacks just a little in weight. Rather better are instrumental pieces from Flower Drum Song and "Shall We Dance" from The King and I.

More striking and lastingly impressive is an eight minute suite/march from the D-Day sequence of the classic 1950's war documentary TV series Victory at Sea. This is as close as the disc comes to the sound of film music, and makes one wish for a full album, or two, of newly recorded score from the programme. A rousing military march with a more jazzy/introspective central section, the chances are it will already be familiar in one form or another - though the version here has been newly arranged in collaboration with the Boston Pops and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organisation. Finally we have the grand "Carousel Waltz" from Carousel, brought to swirling romantic life with plenty of dash and colour.

Bar two of the vocal performances which leave room for improvement this is a highly commendable album, though in these days of 79 minute CDs and considering the wealth of material available in the Rodgers' songbook one can't help thinking 58 minutes is a little on the short side.

Gary S. Dalkin

****

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