December 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Deep in My Heart – The Songs of Sigmund Romberg: Recordings from 1936 to 1954  
Music composed by Sigmund Romberg
Artists include: Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald; Mario Lanza; Tony Martin; Kathryn Grayson; Gordon MacRae; Evelyn Laye; and Howard Keel
  Available on LIVING ERA CD (AJA 5642)
Running Time: 76:44
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Sigmund Romberg (1887-1951) was, as Peter Dempsey so aptly puts it in his erudite notes, a theatrical legend in his own lifetime…the composer of more than 70 musicals and a key figure in the 20th-century evolution of Viennese operetta.  He trained and began his career in Vienna before migrating to America in 1909.  His compositional talents were recognised early by the theatrical entrepreneur, Jake Schubert, and he scored his Broadway debut with a review, The Whirl of the World, that ran for 161 performances. Many successes followed in succeeding years like Maytime (492 performances), Blossom Time, The Student Prince (608 performances) and The Desert Song, Rosalie, The New Moon.  By the late 1920s Romberg had become interested in the talkies and settled in California intending to devote himself to writing for films. He enjoyed something of an Indian summer career as a conductor earning considerable applause on radio and in American concert halls.

Most of the songs are sung by very familiar screen stars of the 1930s and ‘50s. Popular duo, the sweet toned lyric soprano, Jeanette MacDonald, and that dashing oaken-voiced baritone, Nelson Eddy open this nostalgic trip for older film fans with the hauntingly lovely ‘Will You Remember’ from the 1937 film, Springtime and ‘The Song of Love’ from Romberg’s 1921 stage show , Blossom Time (with its cute little reference to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony in the opening orchestral bars).  From Romberg’s 1928 show and the 1940 film, The New Moon, a sterner Eddy leads in the stirring Romberg marching song ‘Stout-Hearted Men’ and, in more romantic mood sings  in a Latin-inflected, ‘Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise’, while his Jeannette romanticizes girlishly with ‘One Kiss’ and poignantly with one of Romberg’s loveliest melodies, ‘Lover, Come Back To Me’. Still from the immensely successful The New Moon, popular baritone, Gordon MacRae (remembered for his partnership with Doris Day in her early Warner Bros musicals, and then as the lead in 20th Century Fox’s film versions of Oklahoma! and Carousel) partners Lucille Norman in another Romberg hit, ‘Wanting You’

Nelson Eddy starred with Evelyn Laye in the 1935 film of The Night is Young which had him singing another Romberg favourite, ‘When I Grow Too Old For Dream’ while Evelyn Laye (such a dated but nonetheless charming voice) sang ‘The Night is Young’.

Mario Lanza is strongly featured, or at least his voice is, in four songs from the 1954 MGM musical The Student Prince, for by that time Lanza had become so corpulent that the studio had to star the wooden Edmund Purdom.  But what memorable songs: the rousing but romantic ‘Drinking Song’ the nostalgic ‘Golden Days’ and the haunting ‘Deep in My Heart, Dear’ and how Lanza caresses these latter two songs.   The Desert Song hit Broadway in 1926 and was filmed three times in 1929, 1943 and 1953. On this disc, Tony Martin rouses his men to ‘The Riff Song’ romances with Kathryn Grayson in ‘The Desert Song (Blue Heaven)’ and muses over his love in ‘One Alone’.

Coming forward to recordings from the 1950s, Howard Keel strikes a patriotic note with ‘Your Land and My Land’ from the 1954 film, Deep in My Heart and Tony Martin rings down the curtain singing ‘My Heart Won’t Say Goodbye’ from the 1954 show, The Girl in Pink Tights

Golden melodies from Sigmund Romberg, the early master of American musicals.

Ian Lace

Rating: N/A

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