Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Stephen Sondheim, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald|
Sweeney Todd Live at the New York Philharmonic
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
The first complete recording of Stephen Sondheim's musical-theatre work since the 1979 original Broadway cast recording, and the first recording of the work by a symphony orchestra, captures the May 2000 New York Philharmo... more »
The first complete recording of Stephen Sondheim's musical-theatre work since the 1979 original Broadway cast recording, and the first recording of the work by a symphony orchestra, captures the May 2000 New York Philharmonic concert performances in honor of Mr. Sondheim's 70th birthday, starring Patti LuPone, George Hearn and Audra McDonald. Directed by Tony Award winner Lonnie Price, the cast also includes John Aler, Davis Gaines, Neil Patrick Harris, Heidi Grant Murphy, Paul Plishka, Stanford Olsen and the New York Choral Artists.
SWEENEY as SWEENEY Should be heard
Ted Zoldan | Los Angeles, CA, USA | 08/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let's face it... despite what anyone says, SWEENEY TODD is the most prominate member of the "Broadway Opera". It can be performed so sucessfully by Opera Singers (As Heidi Grant Murphy and Strafford Olsen prove) or By Broadway belters (such as Neil Patrick Harris and Angela Lansbury, on the origonal cast albulm)This recording, starring both opera stars and Broadway's best, is how Sweeney should be heard.
First off, it includes most of the dialouge, and what is prunned is not really missed. The entire score is not performed here (as it is on the origonal cast albulm) but all that is missing are the usual cuts: the second Half of Pirelli's shaving/tooth-pulling aria and the majority of the Beadle and Mrs. Lovett's Parlour songs. The NY Phil are practicly perfect for this score, and the New York Choral Artists are excellent as one of Opera's most complicated and interactive chorus (compare with the cardboard choruses of Mozart) Andrew Litton does not know the score as well as Gemignani, but he does an excellent job.
The cast is steller. Neil Patrick Harris, aka "Doogie Hoswer", is the definete Tobias, so touching and energetic. Heidi Grant Murphy is a Luxurios Johanna, and Davis Gains is excellent as Anthony, if not as good as Chris Groendal on the Lansbury Video. Audra McDonnell is her usual astounding, scrumptious self, a haunting, pathetic Begger Woman. John Aler and Stafford Olsen toss off their tenor roles with aplomb, even if Olsen isn't as good as his counterpart on the origonal cast recording. Paul Plashika as the Judge is the recording's one major letdown. He provide's strong support in "Pretty Women" but falls flat in his "Johanna" and in dialouge scenes.
Patti Lupone is nothing else but excellent as Mrs. Lovett. Her impecable comic timing and quick-change vocals (beautiful and haunting one moment, belting, brassy, and funny the next) serve hear Lovett well. Unfortunetly for Ms. LuPone, nobody, I repeat NOBODY can beat Angela Lansbury's landmark interpretation of the role. However, LuPone provides a nice alternative with a prettier voice than Lansbury, but without Lansbury's natural character skills.
As far as the title role goes, George Hern IS Sweeney Todd. Len Cariou's voice was not in great voice for the origonal recording, and Hern is far more impressive vocall. However, Cariou does have a better Todd acting-wise. Hern's Sweeney is not the dark, brooding pyschotic that was Cariou's, but an explocive maniac seconds away from madness throughout.
All in all, there is no way to go wrong with either recording of Sweeney Todd. You may want to consider The Lansbury recording, but this offers more impressive performances from most of the cast. My advice: get both."
Concert "Sweeney" with vivid sonics
Bruce Hodges | New York, NY | 11/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a lot to enjoy in this spectacular live recording, which captures the overflowing excitement of these performances. For those who were initially disappointed when Bryn Terfel bowed out of the title role, George Hearn stepped in and triumphed. If his voice isn't quite the powerhouse of Terfel's, Hearn is an equally commanding stage presence, and brings a lifetime of acting expertise to the fore.
As the slightly dotty Mrs. Lovett, Patti LuPone is excellent, and actually sings the difficult songs such as the dazzling "A Little Priest." As the flood of words cascades down, she catches every rhyme, shapes each phrase with expert comic timing, and further, nails all the notes. (No slight intended, in the least, to Angela Lansbury and her by now legendary work in this show.) The other cast members are also wonderful (including the marvelous Audra McDonald), and the entire evening is conducted with extravagant sweep and polish by Andrew Litton. The New York Philharmonic also sounds terrific, and again, their accuracy reveals the subtleties and complexities of Sondheim's score. Harmonically, there is a lot packed in here, and while the original cast recording had an excellent orchestra, the Philharmonic's musicians cope with the cascading rhythms with even more confidence.
The sound is very good, recorded from live performances. Now and then a cast member will be a bit too far from the microphones, or too close, but frankly this only adds to the spontaneous, "you are there" feeling.
Although the original cast recording has power and character to spare, this new one is a must for those who love the music itself. With the adrenalin running high (including the audience fairly roaring its approval), this is a great addition to the Sondheim canon and should give even a jaded listener much pleasure."
Both recordings are a must!
mjhinsf | San Francisco, CA United States | 01/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I am an enthusiastic fan of Mr. Sondheim's work, and a lover of the musical "Sweeney Todd", I had decided not to purchase the very pricey live recording of the NY Philharmonic concert version. (I find that these "concert performances" of great works usually leave much to be desired; particularly since they are always gravely under-rehearsed.) Happily, however, I received the CD as a Christmas gift: It is terrific.It appears that most Sondheim fans loathe George Hearn's Sweeney. I, however, believe that his is the definitive interpretation of the role. I did see Len Cariou perform Sweeney (with Angela Lansbury) in the original Broadway run, and Cariou's Sweeney was very good; he was quiet, big, powerful and very scary. But what Hearn understands is what Cariou never got: Sweeney is, as Mrs. Lovett says, a bleeding little nobody. I recall wondering, throughout Cariou's performance, why doesn't this powerful and scary Sweeney just go to the judge's house at night and kill him; or get him on the street; why does he wait? Hearn, with his hand wringing and desperate emotional outbursts, understands why. Hearn also understands that Sweeney Todd is a melodrama, and what many see as "excesses" in Hearn's portrayal, I see as perfectly appropriate emotional levels for the character, and for the 19th Century operetta form.I now own BOTH versions of Sweeney Todd, and am very glad about that."