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Bernstein - Wonderful Town / Simon Rattle (1999 Studio Cast)
Leonard Bernstein, Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Bernstein - Wonderful Town / Simon Rattle (1999 Studio Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1

Leonard Bernstein's collaboration with Betty Comden and Adolph Green on Wonderful Town is one of his great Broadway triumphs, filled with memorable music and great lyrics. And the screwball tale of two fish-out-of-water sm...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Leonard Bernstein, Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Audra McDonald
Title: Bernstein - Wonderful Town / Simon Rattle (1999 Studio Cast)
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Original Release Date: 1/1/2000
Re-Release Date: 9/14/1999
Album Type: Cast Recording
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Adult Contemporary, Opera & Classical Vocal, Musicals, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724355675323

Synopsis essential recording
Leonard Bernstein's collaboration with Betty Comden and Adolph Green on Wonderful Town is one of his great Broadway triumphs, filled with memorable music and great lyrics. And the screwball tale of two fish-out-of-water small-town sisters in NYC (based on the play My Sister Eileen by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov) still sounds comical and fresh, despite the fact that it was written in the '50s and set in the '30s. Up until now, the 1958 television cast recording was the disc to have: a slightly embellished version of the original cast recording starring Rosalind Russell. The strong cast on this 1999 studio recording is every bit as impressive. Audra McDonald shines as Eileen during "A Little Bit in Love," Kim Criswell is a fine Ruth (though less memorable than Russell), and Thomas Hampson--a baritone best known for his work on the opera stage--is great as Ruth's gruff editor, Bob Baker. Simon Rattle's orchestrations are grand, yet quirky, a perfect match for Bernstein's score. It's easy to recommend a disc that has so many great vocal moments: "Conga!," "My Darlin' Eileen," "Conversation Piece," and "Pass the Football" (sung by Brent Barrett), to name a few. --Jason Verlinde

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CD Reviews

Good, but not perfect
Michael K. Halloran | 09/23/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Wonderful Town" is one of the frothiest, most delightful forays in the musical comedy genre ever created. This recording will certainly bring the piece to more listeners, which is good, but it isn't the best recording available. By far the most successful casting here is Audra McDonald as Eileen, her sweet, full soprano making the most out of Bernstein's marvelous music and Comden and Green's terrific lyrics. Kim Criswell trades in her usual brassiness for a more throaty and wry characterization than we are used to from her, but she makes it work well. She seems to be singing at the extreme low end of her range at times (especially in the "Ohio" duet) but this is because the role was originally written for Rosalind Russell, who had an incredibly full lower range (almost tenor-like). The rest of the casting works fairly well, but Rattle's conducting is what keeps this set from earning top honors. Parts are way too slow (the spoken section in OHIO) and others way too fast: the vamp in "Conversation Piece" needs to go at least twice as slow as Rattle takes it, or the number loses its humor. For better recordings of "Wonderful Town," I recommend either of the Ros Russell versions (the second one is slightly better) or the new, two-disc recording with Karen Mason and Rebecca Luker, which includes all the music plus several variants."
MOVIE MAVEN | New York, NY USA | 06/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you need one reason to buy this super cd, let it be for Leonard Bernstein's brilliant music---his only score to win a Tony Award. (That's right: neither "Candide" nor "West Side Story" won a Tony.) The lyrics of Betty Comden and Adolph Green are some of their best. The witty duo came back to Broadway for this show, their first reunion with Bernstein since the success of "On The Town" almost 10 years before. They had very recently written the wildly successful "Singin' In The Rain" in Hollywood and with "Wonderful Town" they (& the entire creative team) conquered New York City.This CD, to my mind, is a heck of alot better in almost every way than the original cast recording which starred Rosalind Russell. Russell, of course, could not sing and although her role is heavy on comedy and light on music, Kim Criswell comes off better: she is funny & touching as well as caustic and light-handed as well as tough. Russell sounds angry and almost sullen throughout...also quite mature. Add to this, the fact that Criswell has a sensational singing voice. As her love interest,Thomas Hampson, one of our finest operatic baritones, knows exactly how to lighten his voice to sing musical comedy and does it beautifully. On the Russell CD, George Gaines merely sounds old and terribly fancy, like a serious singer who is slumming. Although Edith Adams is fine as "Eileen," Audra McDonald (a 3-time Tony winner, herself) is even better in the role of the girl that all New York City wants to woo. Brent Barrett brings his gorgeous voice, as well as comic skills to his one song as the football-playing dunce, "Wreck."The sound on this 1999 recording is superb. The conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, throws himself into Bernstein's score with verve and shows exactly how much he loves American jazz and Broadway.There are many comic numbers, all of which hit the mark, but I must mention that "A Little Bit In Love" and "A Quiet Girl" and "It's Love" have got to be three of the sweetest, cleverest, most charming "love" songs in any musical. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."
An addicting recording
Rachel Casteel | Camano Island, WA USA | 02/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was browsing through the cd selection at my library when I came across this one. I have always liked Leonard Bernstein but for some reason had never connected him with this musical. His name and Thomas Hampson's caught my eye and I decided to try it out. I'm so glad I did! The songs are marvelous, really bringing out the whole comical aspect of the story. I had never heard of any of the performers (with the exception of Thomas Hampson, whose voice I just love) but was so impressed with their renditions of their characters. Kim Criswell's throaty voice sounds just like you would think Ruth would feel about life in general; Audra McDonald has a sweet optimistic view in her songs; Brent Barrett is hilarious in "Pass the Football" (I laugh every time I hear it--he is so expressive); and Thomas Hampson's beautiful baritone is perfect in "What a Waste" and "A Quiet Girl". The supporting singers are great, too. I have listened to this cd over and over. I just can't seem to get enough of it! The recording itself is very good, clear and detailed, and I was delighted with the booklet with the full lyrics. Altogether very good; I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys musical theatre."