The definitive complete recording
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though the Sony OBC recording has never left the catalogue (for good reasons), and the studio recording in the early '90's with Samuel Ramey, Julia Migenes, Jerry Hadley and Ruth Ann Swenson is a more obviously starry show, this release (formerly TER, now JAY records) is both comprehensive and compellingly performed.All the principals are superb (Valerie Masterson being at her absolute crystalline best as Marsinah, Judy Kaye a refreshing blast of Broadway legit divadom as Lalume, and all the gentlemen particularly solid), and, as ever in this series, John Owen Edwards' observation of original orchestrations, markings, appendix of cut or revised material, and overall theatrical approach make this THE "Kismet" for both devotees of the work, and newcomers. Highly recommended; if you can put on Disc One without wanting to continue on through the last bonus track from "Timbuktu", you have more will-power than I!"
Kevin Lash | Princeton, NJ | 05/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kismet contains some of the best music in all of Broadway. Wright and Forrest adapt Borodin's glorious music perfectly, and I second the other reviewer's suggestion that this is the recording to have. Judy Kaye is a particular bonus. The Sony disc with Ramey/Swenson/Hadley is lovely (though Dom DeLuise doesn't belong on it, and mars a few numbers); this one surpasses it, and is more complete."
An only moderately effective recording of the score
Alan | New York, NY | 10/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Kismet" is a score I love, though it's kind of silly. It's nice to have this complete recording, but the performance has some problems, especially in comparison with other recordings of the score.
Donald Maxwell has the voice for Hajj, but not the right skills as a vocal actor. "Kismet" lovers may be spoiled by the standard set by Alfred Drake on his two recordings of the role, but some other performers have done fairly well in it. Maxwell works hard, sometimes too hard, but he just doesn't know how to phrase this music, and he sounds stiff in the dialogue that has been recorded.
Valerie Masterson sings Marsinah. She's a fine singer, but a more youthful sound would be preferable and some of her high notes sound a bit tentative. David Rendall is the Caliph. He sings very well and there's nothing greatly wrong with his performance, but other singers have brought more passion to the music. If this were the score's only recording, both singers would be fine, but on most other recordings of the score these roles are sung by performers who have a more youthful sound and who convey more ardor, qualities that the songs need. Richard Van Allan as the Wazir has plenty of voice, but he gives a rhythmically stiff performance of his main song, "Was I Wazir?" He needs to sound as if he's having fun with it, and he doesn't.
Helping as much as she can, Judy Kaye is a fabulous Lalume. She is especially good on one of the bonus tracks, "Bored," cut from the original production, but restored for the film and the Lincoln Center production.
The conducting is good, and so are the chorus and the soloists in the bit roles. And it's nice to have some of the new songs that were included in "Timbuktu," the revised revival of the show, which was set in Africa. A song that was written for Eartha Kitt in that show is sung here by Masterson, who reveals a surprisingly potent belt. The late Bruce Hubbard is heard in a couple of the other "Timbuktu" songs, and he sounds as if he would have been a good choice for Hajj.
So I'm sorry to say that this set is probably only for "Kismet" lovers who want a note-complete recording, although Judy Kaye's contributions may make it worthwhile for some others.
First choice remains the great original Broadway cast recording, and the Lincoln Center recording also offers some excellent performances (Lee Venora may be the best Marsinah on disc) and a completely different overture taken from the "Polovtsian Dances.""