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Follies in Concert (1985 Live Performance) + Stavisky Film Score
Stephen Sondheim, Jacques Mercier, Carlo Savina
Follies in Concert (1985 Live Performance) + Stavisky Film Score
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (32) - Disc #2

Since the original Broadway cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's Follies was a truncated affair that turned out to be both a disappointment and a disservice to a brilliant show with a brilliant cast, this 1985 concert perf...  more »


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Since the original Broadway cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's Follies was a truncated affair that turned out to be both a disappointment and a disservice to a brilliant show with a brilliant cast, this 1985 concert performance from New York's Avery Fisher Hall set out to record the whole score, a set of pastiches of old songs and songwriters as performed by a cast of faded stars and the visions of their younger selves. The result was a star-studded roster backed by the New York Philharmonic led by Paul Gemignani, with principals Barbara Cook, Mandy Patinkin, Lee Remick, and George Hearn, supported by the likes of Carol Burnett, Liliane Montevecchi, and Liz Callaway. Even these stars can't quite match the original cast, and the results are somewhat uneven--from Cook's yearning "Losing My Mind" to Patinkin's you-love-it-or-you-hate-it schizophrenia in "Buddy's Blues." Other highlights include Elaine Stritch's wry "Broadway Baby," the two young couples' interplay in "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow/Love Will See Us Through," and the electrifying audience reactions to "Beautiful Girls" and "Who's That Woman?" (A documentary video was released, but unfortunately, it did not contain the complete show.) As a bonus, this two-CD set includes 45 minutes of instrumental music Sondheim composed for the 1974 French film Stavisky, including two melodies that had been cut from the original production of Follies. --David Horiuchi

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CD Reviews

FOLLIES - the best recording far
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 02/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If any one album makes a case for FOLLIES is is this set of FOLLIES IN CONCERT. It is not the definitive FOLLIES, but about as close as we're likely to get. The sound is very VERY good, especially for a live recording, but as such there is quite a bit of applause on this disc. Producer Thomas Shephard originally taped the dress rehearsal so he would have quiet endings for all the numbers but when the audience nearly tore the roof off Avery Fisher Hall, he decided that eliminating applause would negate the event that led to the album. So, he comprmised and used applause after the "follies" numbers but not after plot songs. If you didn't know this you might wonder why "Beautiful Gilrs' gets such a huge hand and the next song "don't Look at me" seems to be met with stoney silence.The cast is sensational. Perhaps not in the same league as the originals but a fine "revival" cast. Lee Remick and Barbara Cook are ideal as leading ladies Phyllis and Sally and its a joy to hear Cook's glorious voice in "Losing My Mind." Mandy Patinkin effectively uses his energy to put a new spin on "Buddy's Blues. " I know some object to his over-the-top style but it was effective on stage. Elaine Stritch has fun singing "Broadway Baby" and Carol Burnet makes the most of "I'm Still Here." Really, there isn't one bad track in the whole package. Completists may quibble with the slight cuts here and there..the last bit of the Overture (including a segment of "Can That Boy Foxtrot") has been cut, as has "Bolero D'amour." The original montage ending of "Rain on the Roof/Ahh Paris/Broadway Baby" was dumped, and the spoken interludes in "Loveland" have been re-arranged. NONE of this will impair your enjoyment of this wonderful show.As a bonus RCA has filled out the second CD with the soundtrack of Sondheim's score for STAVISKY. Many cut songs from FOLLIES were used in this film score, so its a natural tie-in.The booklet has all the lyrics but no synopsis to place the songs within the context of the story. It is a minor flaw in an otherwise first rate package."
Electrifying performance; Maybe Sondheim's most complex work
John Grabowski | USA | 01/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Relistening to Follies again recently I came to the conclusion that this may be Sondheim's single greatest work, and that is saying something. Follies is multi-layered, sophisticated, mature, and runs the gamut of emotions. The lyrics are, along with Night Music and Pacific Overtures, the most complex he's ever written. The premise is unique and powerful, and deals with Sondheim's signature theme--the road not taken. Many of SS's works deal with time as a dramatic element, either in terms of it aging and changing people or in it allowing us a window on a past that is very different than we believe. This story does both. Despite the durability and popularity of Sweeney Todd, I think Follies has a depth and richness that SW lacks.The performance is actually a concert, or a "staged oratorio" as director Herb Ross called it. The actual work would be too expensive to stage today--and was in 1985 as well. But at least they had a truly all-star cast to bring this rendition of Follies to life. Nearly everyone sings their role as though they were born to it. But some standout performances are Elaine Stritch's in her boozy rendition of "Broadway Baby," Barbara Cook sining "Losing My Mind," and George Hearn's polished, man-of-the-world "Live Love and Laugh." Easy to overlook is Carol Burnette, who has only one song, but it's a doozy. The only performer I find a little below par is Mandy Patinkin, who never really gets below the surface of his character, opting to whoop and yell in his usual Jolsonesque manner. The producers originally planned to release this version of Follies without the ambient concert sounds--applause and such--but the thunderous ovations from the audience at the beginning made this impossible. Unfortunately, however, that means things were extremely closely miked, and the sound is somewhat overwhelming and almost shrill at times. Also, the New York Philharmonic is not at their best in this kind of music: not only are they stiff, especially in the numbers where the rhythm has to swing, but they also are not really involved emotionally, just "phoning in" the performance. (And the brass, closely miked to begin with, seems to think that you play "Broadway style" by being loud and shrill.) Paul Gemignani was displeased with their effort, and actually said so publically at another concert in the same hall years later. The rest of the set is filled out with Sondheim's music to the motion picture Stavisky. It's fine, servicible, but not really memorable and rather derivative. Sondheim is many things, but a brilliant film composer is not among them.This is one of the most important CDs in Sondheim's discography. For many years Follies was available--when it was available at all--only as a severely-edited single LP that cut many of the songs. The purpose of this concert was to rectify the omission. But it not only did that, it also gave us one of the most memorable concerts ever. Broadway was already considered to be "in an intensive care unit," as the liner notes put it, even then. By today's standards, it looked positively golden on the night of September 6th, 1985."
A star-studded cast gives a glorious "Follies"
Mark Andrew Lawrence | 09/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you want only one version of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies," this is the edition to own. Sondheimaniacs ponder the differences between this and the Original Cast, the London production, and a recent New Jersey attempt, and are doubtless hoping for a fifth version when a revival opens on Broadway in spring of 2001. To simply enjoy the music, this concert edition provides the cast. George Hearn is the best Ben on any recording; Mandy Patinkin is wonderfully Mandy Patinkin as Buddy, which will delight many and annoy others. A particular delight is hearing the incredible talents of the then incredibly young Liz Callaway, Daisy Prince, Jim Walton, and Howard McGillin as the "young" characters. Pulling in Betty Comden and Adolph Green to sing "Rain on the Roof" was a great idea. The casting is fabulous throughought. Complaints about Licia Albanese miss the point: she's supposed to be an aged opera singer with voice to match. This concert version provides every bit of the drama of "Follies.""