Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|William Finn, Kristin Chenoweth, Malcolm Gets|
A New Brain (1998 Original Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
William Finn is an acquired taste. Not only is this lyricist-composer one of the few proponents of the (mostly) sung-through musical, but he favors unlikely subjects. His 1992 musical Falsettos was about love, a bar mitzva... more »
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William Finn is an acquired taste. Not only is this lyricist-composer one of the few proponents of the (mostly) sung-through musical, but he favors unlikely subjects. His 1992 musical Falsettos was about love, a bar mitzvah, AIDS, and mortality; A New Brain deals with a brain tumor and art and, yes, mortality and love. Both witty and touching, the show displays Finn's melodic gift and his talent for suggesting sentiment without sentimentality. The supporting cast, including Chip Zien, Kristin Chenoweth, and Penny Fuller, is a collection of New York's finest stage actors, each of whom gets at least one splendid song. In the lead, Malcolm Gets allows the listener direct access into Gordon Schwinn's innermost emotions. An acquired taste, yes, but one that will linger in your memory and heart. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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Member CD Reviews
Brandon J. from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 8/6/2012...
A master work by a master composer.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Fresh, Funny & Touching: One of Finn's Finest!
A. R. Karpe | New York, NY | 09/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a musical about one of the most unlpleasant topics imaginable: a young man's brush with death as he goes under the knife for removal of a brain tumor. But don't let that awkward yet accurate description dissuade you from picking up "A New Brain." William Finn, the musical genius behind the three "Marvin Musicals" (In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland) once again plunges head-first into devastating territory, and presents a moving story with great humor and amazing theatricality. The talents on this recording are top notch, but above them all, Finn reigns supreme with glorious melodies and smart lyrics. This is more than a musical about our mortality. It is a musical about lovers, mothers, good nurses, bad nurses, show-biz charlatans and, as the song says, "Time and Music." I dare you to listen to the soaring finale, "I Feel So Much Spring" and not feel better about your situation, your day or your life. Finn's lesson? Sometimes life sucks, but it's how we deal with the lot we're given that counts. Sooner or later, it does get better. Personally, "A New Brain" goes in the CD player when I need a pick-me-up. It works every time!"
Intelligent & Refreshing
Susan B. Antonia | New York, NY USA | 11/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brain surgery? In a musical? Call me old-fashioned, but when I first heard of the subject matter for this new mucial, I thought it was rather...well, strange. How could a composer handle writing effective music about brain surgery and then combine it with a story that...made sense. William Finn was able to handle it and then some in his masterpiece, "A New Brain". The three-part introduction, which probably gets at least partially ignored by many, does a tremendous job of setting the tone for the musical. In the three or four minutes that are taken up my the introduction, there are about one-hundred different emotions expressed by various members of the cast. These emotions pop up again in reverse chronological order throughout the remainder of the musical. I thought it was fascinating how the first line and the last line of the musical, while they have the same musical structure and have all but three words in common ("Frogs have so much spring within them" to "I feel so much spring (within me)"), perfectly represent the journey taken by the main character throughout the course of the musical. The first complete song is "Heart and Music" and that song alone is worth the $13.99 you pay for the entire CD. It begins as a duet between Gordon, the main character, and the minister, but gradually builds to an end filled with lush harmony provided by the entire cast. I could probably go on forever discussing each individual song, but that would take hours. And becasue each song seems to be better than the previous, I can't really mention any standouts. When it comes to the cast, there are also no real standouts because each cast member is equally fabulous. Kristin Chenoweth, Chip Zien, Malcolm Gets, Mary Testa, Penny Fuller, Norm Lewis and the rest of the cast give performances of a lifetime. After Norm Lewis' sensitive rendition of the gorgeous "I'd Rather Be Sailing", I was nearly reduced to tears. Krsitin Chenoweth made me laugh with just her two verses in "Calamari". Mary Testa absolutely blew me away with "Change". And don't get me started on the show-stopping job done by Malcolm Gets on "And They're Off" and "I Feel So Much Spring"... This album is a real gem. Buy it and give it a chance to grow on you. Although there's no denying this CD is for the open-minded and the people who have already experienced a wide range of musical theatre. If all you know is "Oklahoma" and "Guys & Dolls", you're probably not someone who can appreciate the the rich, effective blend between music and lyrics that is so truly rare these days or the skill it takes to take such a delicate, complicated story and weave it into that blend of music and lyrics. If however you are one of these people, I assure you that you'll fall in love with "A New Brain" as I did. With the new musicals coming out today on Broadway (everything from "Footloose" to "Saturday Night Fever"), something as thought-provoking and intelligently written as "A New Brain" is a refreshing and welcomed surprise."