Josh Groban, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal Chess in Concert (2 CD) Genres:Pop, Rock, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists Starring multiplatinum artist Josh Groban, Tony-winning Idina Menzel (Wicked) and Tony nominated Adam Pascal (RENT), Chess In Concert — revives the eclectic yet wonderfully pop 1984 concept album featuring the music of ABBA... more »'s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and lyrics of Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King, Evita). Recorded at London's Royal Albert Hall in May 2008, this spectacular Chess In Concert - introduced by Rice and with the 50- piece City of London Philharmonic and 100-voice West End Chorus - finally fulfills the promise of the popular cult musical.« less
Starring multiplatinum artist Josh Groban, Tony-winning Idina Menzel (Wicked) and Tony nominated Adam Pascal (RENT), Chess In Concert
revives the eclectic yet wonderfully pop 1984 concept album featuring the music of ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and lyrics of Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King, Evita). Recorded at London's Royal Albert Hall in May 2008, this spectacular Chess In Concert - introduced by Rice and with the 50- piece City of London Philharmonic and 100-voice West End Chorus - finally fulfills the promise of the popular cult musical.
"So I downloaded this more or less the second it was available. I've had the original concept album Chess for years now, and I was very excited to get the Menzel/Pascal/Groban(????) version. It is nice to get a more complete version than the original discs. The added songs have some of the connective tissue that hold the plot together make a substantial difference in listening to a cohesive show. But I'm afraid that musically, at least at first listen, it's only good, not great. And I'm not sure that it's as fun as the earlier recording either.
While I know the creators are touting this as the definitive version of Chess, the older recording has strengths this version lacks. Sure, Josh Groban as the Russian has a beautifully pure voice, but he brings little of the angst that Tommy Körberg brought to the original version, just as Adam Pascal brings little of the fun and snark that Murray Head has as the American. Again, on the concept discs Denis Quilley was a brilliant Malakov, and David Bedella can't match the profound bass or the evil glee of the previous recording. Idina Menzel is a capable Florence, though Elaine Page was wonderful too. The original was lush -- if anything, it's overproduced, but the grandeur of some of the numbers ("Merrano," "Mountain Duet" for example) was part of its charm. Some of these tracks seem a little less grand, and the lyrics have been altered in several places, rarely for the better.
Chess in Concert takes a while to get going. Act II of Chess in Concert is much stronger than Act I, whereas the opposite is true on the original concept discs. Lots of my issues with Chess in Concert redeem themselves in Act II. Pascal and Menzel are quite good, and even Groban sort of acts a role, and doesn't just sing. Chess in Concert really does get better as it goes on.
I'm not sorry I own it, and I will give it several listens before deciding what tracks get heavier rotation. But so far, it's just three and one-half stars to the original's four and one-half."
The New Revised Standard Version.
Joseph M. Perorazio | Columbus, OH USA | 07/08/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Chess" is one of the most revised and re-revised shows in history. Beginning with the original concept album in 1984, the show went through a slightly altered London production, then a drastically altered Broadway version (which tanked), and numerous international productions since then, most of which combined songs and plot elements from both the London and New York productions. Still, Tim Rice seems to have wanted to present a "definitive" version, and so we have 'Chess in Concert', presented in London's Royal Albert Hall in 2008.
This version features some of today's brightest young stars from Broadway and the West End: Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Kerry Ellis, and Marti Pellow, as well as baritone crooner Josh Groban as Anatoly. Overall the cast is excellent, although Menzel's vocal stylings will perhaps not be to everyone's taste. She does, however, capture Florence's vulnerabilities quite well, and is an excellent vocal belter.
Kerry Ellis has the pleasure of singing "Someone Else's Story", now a song for Svetlana, whose character has been greatly expanded. She approaches the role with grace and a firm vocal confidence. "Rent" veteran Adam Pascal makes an excellent Freddie, capturing both his sleaziness and rather pathetic narcissism. Marti Pellow, the former UK pop star, takes on the role of the Arbiter, although he plays it coolly and with almost too much subtlety. Finally, Josh Groban is superb as Anatoly, his "Anthem" bringing down the Act I curtain with an inspirational and moving performance.
The orchestra under David Firman and the very entertaining chorus add polish and verve to the sometimes difficult and wordy score. Indeed, a lyric booklet would have been helpful (be sure to use the captioning when watching the DVD).
The CD includes most of the show as presented on the DVD, with some minor deletions of dialogue (the part of Walter has been drastically reduced), and most of the explicit language is retained, except for Freddie's use of the "f" word in Act II. I mention this only because there is no Parental Advisory sticker on the CD, so listeners who might be offended should take note.
Overall this is the most complete version of Chess yet recorded, and though nothing could ever replace the original concept album, it does stand on its own merits and hopefully will introduce this exciting and stirring pop opera to a new generation of listeners."
An amazing cd I can't stop listening!
Aidan Devlon | Atlanta | 08/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I rarely purchase whole albums anymore, but I'm quite glad I did for this one. It has replaced Les miz as my current musical obsession. The songs catch in my head; even when I'm just crossing the street to go to the store, I whip put my iPod and start it up. While the musical phrases are well tied together, the songs themselves are unique. Josh Groban's rich voice is mesmerizing. Idina Menzel is fabulous as always, and Adam Pascal's performance crackles with energy. Best music I've bought this year. I also recommend the DVD though I do not yet own it."
This would be close to perfect if Idina toned it down a bit.
Melissa Niksic | Chicago, IL United States | 05/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fantastic concert version of the music from the "Chess" concept album, and it may very well be my favorite recording of the musical to date. It also includes some additional tracks not included on the 1984 concept album.
The cast, orchestra, and chorus are all superb. Adam Pascal and Josh Groban steal the show with their performances of The American and The Russian, respectively. If there's one criticism I have of the album, it has to be (gasp!) Idina Menzel as Florence. Do not get me wrong here: I ADORE Idina and think she is a goddess. However, as incredibly talented as she is, she often has a tendency to ignore the original music and go off in her own direction. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. But when she's singing these amazing songs that I love so much, especially "Nobody's Side" and "Heaven Help My Heart," I get irritated when she changes the music and fails to enunciate properly, etc. Sometimes I think she'd be much better as a pop star than a Broadway star. I love when she does that crazy high wailing thing that she does, but it can actually take away from a piece of music instead of enhancing it.
Despite Idina's unique vocal stylings, I very much enjoyed this CD."
Chess in Concert
Paul Patenaude | Dudley, MA | 08/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Chess at London's Prince Edward Theatre in 1987. I purchased the original cast recording the night of the show. Chess in Concert with Josh Groban brought back memories of my first trip to London. Groban's performance does not dissapoint. Excellent."