A Good Candide, not a Great one
William S. Oser | Florida, USA | 07/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Candide is one of my favorite pieces in all of musical theater. Make Our Garden Grow is possibly the most beautiful ending of any musical/operetta/opera every written.
I prefer the original version of the piece. Hellmans book is much maligned, its a bit stogy but Wheeler's is too comic booky. The changes to the music necessitated by the new book are all worse than the original. The original version of Best of All Possible Worlds is so far superior to Steven Sondheim's reworking (Amo, Amas, Amo Amato--what kind of drugs was he on when he wrote that gruesome ending to the song. To me that makes the Broadway Cast album indespensible. But what about later recordings for music that was missing in action?
Bernstein's own recording is important because its the only place you get all of Candide's music so that you can hear his musical progression from childish to worldly. It is simply amazing how Bernstein spins so much off of the Candide theme. Bernstein gives us the most complete version of the score, pretty much everything he ever wrote for it, which frankly is too much. Some cuts are a blessing (I for one would not mind never hearing the Barcarole for 4 kings ever again!) Unfortunately there are weak links in the cast. June Anderson is nothing special as Cunegonde, and Bernstein's habit of casting non singers as Pangloss/Voltaire/Martin reaches its zenith here. Adolphe Greene was a wonderful performer much earlier and was a wonderful writer even longer. But he simply was not up to the musical demands of the role and it really shows in Words Words Words. The recording of the City Opera Production is decently cast, has more music than several other productions and is not a bad choice. But slices of Candide's music are missing. Also, you get both Siphilus songs, which is probably one more than necessary. Some of the musical choices don't appeal to me. I find the Bradway version directed by Hal Prince to be fun, but musically very lacking. Other versions are hit or miss, which leads us to this recording.
Most of the most important music is here. Missing are two of Candide's solos, Candides 2nd Meditation (a reprise of It Must be So)_and just before Make Our Garden Grow, "Nothing More than This." If choices of cuts are required, the choices are decent, although The Barcarole for Kings is here--yuck. Marilyn Hill Smith is a wonderful Cunegone, singing gloriously. Her Glitter and Be Gay is by far the most beautifully sung, but it is lacking in humor. Barbara Cook caught the element of humor, and Kristin Cheneworth in a peformance with the New York Philharmonic caught all the humor, even if her singing was not on the level of Ms. Smith or Roberta Peters on a very old Command Record featuring the music of Bernstein. Mark Beaudert as Candide is decent, but not on the exalted level of Robert Rounsville or Jerry Hadley. I am a big fan of Bonaventura Bottone, who appears as the Govenor. I wonder if he would have been a great Candide. Nicolas Grace as Voltaire/Pangloss sings better than most of his competition, therefore his Words Words Words solo is much less of a trial. Ann Howard as the Old Lady is good, but nowhere near her competition, Irra Petina on OBC, Christa Ludwig on Bernstein and Joyce Castle on City Center Opera.
This is a througly professional recording, but it does not outshine the competition in any meaningful way. Recommended for serious Candide buffs only."
D. Buccheri | USA | 03/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this CD a little over a year ago and I have to say it's very good. I am not at all familiar with who the cast is, but they are all wonderful singers. I had listened to many recordings of Candide before and I think this may be my favorite one. I believe it is one of the strongest operatic casts on it. The songs are being sung as they should be."
A boon and a delight for Candide lovers
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 04/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As someone who has followed the erratic course of "Candide" since the original Broadway cast album, I'm delighted to report that this long CD of excdrpts is the best since then. As presented by Scottish National Opera, there are no jokey pollutions to the libretto, no cartoonish perversions of Voltaire's grown-up satire, no Broadway glitz, and no second-guessing by the aged Bernstein himself. Instead, we get true operatic voices that sound aas right as the voices in the original (whose Candide was Robet Rounseville, a voice of Metropolitan Opera quality). Indeed, some of the character singers are dead ringers for the originals, which is rather uncanny. The only drawbacks are somewhat clunky conducting and recorded sound that's a bit fuzzy and edgy -- neither is a serious flaw, however.
In short, the true spirit of Candide lives on, and although no lover of this unique musical would part with the original Columbian/Sony recording, here we have even more music. Add some indispensable numbers from the composer's DG recording, and a complete musical picture emerges, even if the perfect libretto will probably never be crafted."