Saturday, August 8, 2015
If I could combine official cast recordings that I have listened to, and combine them to make the greatest CD, except for its lack of cohesiveness, this is how it would be...
Now, the CDs considered are: London, 25th Anniversary Cast, Canadian, Swedish, Vienna, Hamburg, Mexico City, Hungarian (though, it's not a Hal Prince replica production)... for some odd reason, I've never listened to the Japanese, Korean, or Dutch casts! What is that all about?! I should get on that.
Auction: Without a doubt, this would go to the Vienna recording. The Auctioneer has a great mix of atmosphere, yet also sounds like a person. Close second is London, though.
Overture: Vienna. The mixing, and the accentuation on the forlorn horn sounds in the second verse give me the chills.
Hannibal: Sweden ALL THE WAY. Since the Swedish CD is a live recording, the spontaneity of this scene comes through (hard to do in a studio). Plus, the musical direction for Sweden was spot on chorally.
Think of Me: This is a really hard for me, as I could listen to Hamburg, Canada, Mexico City or Sweden's versions day long. But Anna Maria Kaufmann's vocal quality, the mixing, and the LUSH orchestra from the Hamburg CD takes the prize for this close race.
Angel of Music/Little Lotte: Sweden, because it's a live recording and almost complete.
The Mirror: Oh, my GOSH! It could be a tie between London and Vienna. The latter's Phantom, Alexander Goebel, is very similar to Crawford- ghostly resonating from the nasal passages. And the pace and chilling calmness of the Vienna version really wins me over. BUT!!! The reverb on the London CD is ace, though, as are the bass sounds underscoring his "beckon" to Christine to come through the mirror. I am going to go with London, if only because of the sound mix and Sarah Brightman's jubilant "Angel of music guide and guardian..."
Title Song: Another toughie, and caught between the two German language recordings. Both had very large orchestras with unique musical direction, Hamburg's brash execution takes us on an epic adventure to the underworld, while Vienna's, with its slow, deliberate, and down-the-octave on Phantom verses grounded quality sort of sneaks into our slumber... How do I choose??? I choose Vienna, because, overall, I gravitate toward ghostly Phantom interpretations in general.
The Music of the Night- Alexander Goebel's slow, deliberate, ghostly Phantom could win, but the Mexico City cast recording's Juan Navarro has such a beautiful, resonant voice with a nod toward the ghostliness (at least vocally). I can feel the poetic imagery just from his tonal quality. He has a full bodied hookup to the words.
Magical Lasso: London. Buquet with an operatic voice. Reverb. Mary Millar. A list shall suffice.
Prima Donna: Original London would win if it had Piangi (he was later added into the scene). Canada takes the track. Personalities are well established in the scene. Just wish the mixing were a little more reverberated.
Il Muto: Vienna. Vienna. VIENNA. Can I say that, again? Vocally and instrumentally, it has unique flourishes that sound just like an actual opera performance.
Hamburg's lush full recording of the ballet sequence would step in, however.
Rooftop: Oh. Original London recording. Sarah Brightman's strongest scene on the CD. But it's mostly because Steve Barton is so gentle, warm, and earnest. This include's Crawford's reprise of jealousy and chandelier destruction!
Entr'act- Hmmm... Vienna.
Masquerade- I LOVE the Hamburg version of this song. Such intense brass and crisp diction. Forgive my ignorant discription, but it's very "beat" oriented.
Why so silent?- Mikael Samuelson from the Swedish recording. Very harsh sounding Phantom, which works really well in this scene.
Notes II- London, because the story telling is clearest here.
Don Juan rehearsal for the same reason.
Wishing You Were Somehow Here, Again- Hungarian cast recording. Her voice is clings like a bell, her acting expressive and specific. My jaw drops when I listen to her.
Wandering Child/Bravo Monsieur... goes to the London recording. It's the trio, rather than the duet it became in every other production (except Hungary, and now, after 26 years, Broadway, finally). It dramatically helps the role of Raoul have a clearer journey, even though it's brief.
Don Juan Triumphant/The Point of No Return: Original London, as I find the story telling clearest here, including the "aftermath" scene, when Mme Giry tells Raoul she can help him.
The Final Lair: Original Canadian. Colm Wilkinson is almost like a demonic beast here. It's gruff, it's raw, it's exciting. This scene is best when spontaenous, with less reverence to being totally musically sound. Of course, I expect everyone to be on beat and nuanced, but it's important for some words to be spoken, others to be sung, some to be back phrased. Great musical theatre tradition allows this.