Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Way Back to Paradise
Genres: Pop, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
A more explanatory title might be "Sons of Sondheim" since this disc is the first anthology of the young, brainy, literate, hip songwriters who are influenced by Stephen Sondheim and just might turn Broadway's artistic com... more »
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A more explanatory title might be "Sons of Sondheim" since this disc is the first anthology of the young, brainy, literate, hip songwriters who are influenced by Stephen Sondheim and just might turn Broadway's artistic compass several degrees away from Disneyland. Musically, they break most unwritten precepts by freely modulating into distant keys and throwing traditional notions about form and symmetry to the wind when dramatic content dictates it. Adam Guettel is the master storyteller in "Come to Jesus" (about abortion) and "Baby Moon" (about pregnancy). Michael John La Chiusa writes great character sketches: his "Mistress of the Senator" might as well be a tour through the mind of Monica Lewinsky. Ricky Ian Gordon is the most subtle, poetic, and abstract, exploring interior states of being, using the words of Langston Hughes and others. McDonald is ideal throughout, deploying her lustrous soprano with the dramatic relish that has won her three Tony Awards. This could be a watershed release. --David Patrick Stearns
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Don't Let the "Unknown" Songs Fool You
Matt Howe | Washington, DC | 03/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been eyeing this CD for months. The thing that kept me from buying it was the fact that I didn't recognize a single one of the songs! Then I saw Audra perform on the "Broadway's Leading Ladies" concert (a fabulous, defiant version of DOWN WITH LOVE) and knew I must dive into her recordings. I ordered this CD and Audra's new album HOW GLORY GOES. After listening to both (new songwriters versus standards), I keep coming back to this one -- the one with no recognizable songs!Audra McDonald possesses a glorious instrument and an actor's instinct -- a great combination. Hear her roar through "Way Back To Paradise" (my favorite cut on the album -- so exciting! And a great arrangement). "Stars and the Moon" is a great, solid song with good singing. "Mistress of the Senator" is a fun, sexy number. "Dream Variations" sets the mood as the album's first track and contains some beautiful singing and some funky piano playing.I really like these songs! I find them very listenable and catchy. I am so glad I got this album. I am definitely an Audra McDonald fan now."
Great talent, decent material
burghtenor | Washington, DC | 01/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Audra McDonald is one of the greatest artists of our generation, with superb dramatic skills and a voice to match. She won three Tony awards before reaching age 30. Therefore, few were surprised when Ms. McDonald took a gamble on this, her first solo CD, by recording only the music of up-and-coming composers. Unfortunately, the compostions that Ms. McDonald has chosen are not of the same caliber as her own talents. I hate to admit it, but the four pieces I liked most on this CD were the four of which I already have other recordings: "Tom" and "Mistress of the Senator" from Michael John LaChiusa's HELLO AGAIN, and "You Don't Know This Man" from PARADE and "Stars and the Moon" from SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, both by Jason Robert Brown. I did not care for the first three of these pieces on the cast recordings, but Ms. McDonald's talents make them sparkle. As fine a job as Ms. McDonald does with "Stars and the Moon," Jessica Molaskey does a better job on the original cast recording. Don't get me wrong: this is a fine CD, but there are better ones to purchase. For those who adore Audra McDonald, her second CD, HOW GLORY GOES, is superior to this one. For those looking for compositions that can stand on their own without the context of a show, perhaps CLOSER THAN EVER, SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, or I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE would fit the bill."
Matthew Neil | Minneapolis, MN United States | 01/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A co-worker handed me this CD knowing that I am a performer of musical theater and opera. I was familiar with Ricky Ian Gordon, but the other composer's names were only vaguely familiar. I was familiar with Audra, and was not disappointed by this performance. Audra's artistry is astounding. She brings exciting, moving performances to each of these songs. This is not Rogers & Hammerstein, nor is it Sondheim. However, this is a wonderful sampling of young composers and lyricists. "Stars and the Moon" from Jason Robert Brown's SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD is exciting and thought provoking. I listened to it eight times in one work day. It's a shame Warner Brothers discontinued publication of this music in 10/99. Guettel's "Come to Jesus" is a haunting look at abortion. "I Follow" is stunning. Despite other reviews that this music is a-tonal and unmelodic, I have had multiple melodies ringing clearly in my mind after listening to this cd. As for Audra's choice of material, I must agree with a comment in the cd liner that her choice of music makes us listen to the music, not her. As a fellow performer, I commend Audra for allowing herself to be a vehicle to highlight music and text, instead of getting caught up in letting the music be a vehicle to highlight her. For me, this is a sign of a true artist."