Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blogging Sondheim 2

[Previously in my attempts to blog the forthcoming Stephen Sondheim 4-CD box set: West Side Story and Gypsy.]
Disc One

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962)
music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

5. Comedy Tonight (5:00)
Zero Mostel & Company
orchestra conducted by Hal Hastings
rec. 5/00/62

[track 5, courtesy Capitol Records/EMI]

6. Everybody Ought To Have A Maid (3:06)
Stephen Collins, Christopher Durang, Michael Rupert
musical direction: Scott Frankel
rec. 4/28/93

[track #6, from the RCA Victor album, Putting It Together (09026-61720-2)]

7. There's Something About A War (4:12)
Stephen Sondheim

[track #7, from Stephen Sondheim's sound archives]
Three songs from Forum, each from different sources. Our first illustration of the difficulties of licensing. This box set is being released by BMG Sony, through its relationship with Playbill Online. Reportedly, Capitol/EMI was chary with its recordings, wanting prohibitively high licensing fees for songs from the original cast recording of Follies. So, no original Follies tracks. Likewise, we get only one track from the original Forum, but it's the best: "Comedy Tonight".

Given the high costs, it's little wonder that the producers went elsewhere for other Forum tracks. "Maid" is not my favorite song from Forum, and the performance from "Putting It Together", a Sondheim revue from the early 1990s, is OK. It's a shame that the Nathan Lane revival of Forum was also recorded by EMI (through Broadway Angel), since that'd be a natural source for two superior songs: "Free" and "Pretty Little Picture".

"There's Something About A War" is the first unreleased track. It's a cut song; it was replaced by "Bring Me My Bride". "War" has been previously recorded, as part of the 1983 "A Stephen Sondheim Evening" concert. That version was sung by Cris Groenendaal. Since the version on the box set is credited to Stephen Sondheim, it's likely one of his many contemporary demo recordings (there are two discs of these released by PS Classics, covering the years from 1946-1960 and 1962-1972).

[more later]


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