Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Martin Charnin, Edward Thomas|
Mata Hari (1995 Revival Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Short runners are not always gems
John McWhorter | New York, New York United States | 11/26/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"MATA HARI lives in legend as a fine score done in by poor direction and producer David Merrick's indifferent attitude towards it.This recording finally allows us to judge the music, and really, the score is pallid. MATA HARI reveals itself as one of a raft of scores that inundated Broadway in the 1960s, as the grand masters were passing away and pop and rock were pulling the composing talent away from doing musicals. The scene was set for untried and only moderately gifted writers to get shows on Broadway whereas there would have been no room for them ten years before.The result is weak scores like BAKER STREET, JIMMY and MAGGIE FLYNN, written by people we never heard from again, whose LPs used to pop up constantly in out-of-print shops, having obviously disenchanted their buyers. MATA HARI's music is on this level.There are maybe two or three DECENT little tunes, but that's it. Overall it's a paint-by-numbers effort, the composer and lyricist dutifully coming up with the usual genres of song that made 1950s classics go. But that crucial element of inspiration is missing.Maybe it's the sexy-ish subject matter that grabs other listeners; one does EXPECT a musical about Mata Hari to be interesting. But this is a dishwater score in terms of the material itself.And the recording leaves a lot to be desired. This is one of Original Cast's recordings where, to save money, the accompaniment is done on a synthesizer. This is about as artistically satisfying as it sounds. Hats off to the producers for going to the effort of recording the show at all, but when the scoring of Robert Russell Bennett, of all people, is reduced to the tinkling and keening of some gadget, one has a hard time sensing a theatrical experience.And the woman singing Mata Hari has to strain on the high notes; also, the balance is often a little odd -- one minute you are listening comfortably, the next minute the singers are screaming in your ear.This is mainly of archival, die-hard collector's value. Just because it was about Mata Hari, was produced by David Merrick, was breathlessly anticipated, and had an ignoble history does not mean it was great work. A tinkly recording of a thoroughly mediocre score."
Put the writers in front of a firing squad
M. Gaetano | 10/12/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Mata Hari, also known as Ballad for a Firind Squad, is possibly the worst musical I have ever heard. I own the recordings to over 400 shows, and this is, by far, one of the most unlistenable, boring, pallid, and generic of all of the scores I have. Not only are the tunes bad, but the lyrics seldom, if ever, seem to advance the plot and the company numbers are nothing more than the cast talking about what Mata Hari is doing. Ken Mandlebaum touted this score as one of the greatest forgotten gems of the latter 20th century, and everyone and their mother has touted "Maman" as one of the greatest, most emotional numbers ever written--I sorely disagree. How could a song that has the same 5 note phrase throughout the whole song be moving? Martin Charnin (Of Annie fame) is in rare form, as his lyrics are even worse than those for Two By Two.
Most of the time, I listen to the scores of flops and think "How in God's name did this bomb?!" but, when a score like this rolls around, I thank the Lord it did--heaven forbid the world en masse be exposed to this garbage.
Thank goodness Edward Thomas never wrote another score.
Trash, garbage, filth, the bane of the world of Musical Theatre--pass pass pass pass on this one."
A Score Worth Hearing On Its Own Merits
Kenneth | Los Angeles, CA | 09/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always been a fan of "lost" scores and flop (I guess I should say "unheard") musicals, so 'Mata Hari' always fascinated me after I read about its doomed pre-Broadway tryouts in Washington DC, when the scenery crashed and the unfortunate leading lady was laughed at when the audience saw her scratch her nose after she'd been gunned down by the firing squad. But if one can separate this truly beautiful score from all the negative hype that surrounded it and created its terrible reputation, I think it's an extremely musical score very worth listening to. Although there are a few operetta-type numbers such as "I'm Saving Myself for a Soldier," there are far more truly beautiful songs such as "Gone," "Everyone Has Something to Hide," "The Choice is Yours," my personal favorite "No More Than a Moment," and of course, "Maman." The music on the CD is largely the result of a synthesizer but even that doesn't detract from the beauty of the melodies and the passion of the singers. Maybe this show never worked on stage, or maybe we'll never know, although this recording is based on the somewhat recent York Theatre Revival of the late 90s. Surely, if it's revived again, I'm going to be first in line for a ticket!"