January 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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West Side Story  
Music composed by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Arthur Laurents
Lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim
With Betsi Morrison as Maria, Mike Eldred as Tony, Marianne Cook as Anita, Robert Dean as Riff
  Nashville Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Schermerhorn
  Available on Naxos No: 8.559126  
Running Time: 75:16
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west side story

The standing recorded heritage of West Side Story is formidable - not least the original Broadway production, the film soundtrack, and Leonard Bernstein's own studio recording with Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras. In the light of this legacy this new venture is brave indeed. That everyone concerned has acquitted themselves so incredibly well is testament to an extraordinary degree of professionalism and commitment. This recording, although taped at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, has all the resonance and intimate atmosphere of a true stage performance, with the orchestra realising really vibrant readings - and whilst we don't have Carol Lawrence, or Kiri Te Kanawa, or Marnie Nixon to head up the cast, the vocals here are universally superb, never less than either dynamic or heartfelt.

But more, with this recording we are afforded a full seventy-five minutes of songs, dances and orchestral interludes, and the opportunity to gain an album substantially more complete than the original Broadway cast or film soundtrack recordings. Plus, at a budget price this disc represents an awesome bargain. That said, everyone is going to have their own favourite performance of West Side Story - and this new recording is not necessarily going to replace those in anyone's affections ... but nevertheless this is a sterling new rendition of an undisputed classic.

David Wishart

**** 4

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