Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Album Review: The Sound of Music (2006 London Palladium Cast Recording)

"Today you have to learn to be a realist"

I wanted to love the London Palladium Cast Recording of The Sound of Music, I really did, but there's just something missing, a magic ingredient or two gone awry which means that you can't imagine it ever replacing the version of the score that you fell in love with, no matter which one that is.

This 2006 production was the first to use reality TV to cast its leading role - the BBC's How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? proving to be a headline grabbing success and resulting in Connie Fisher winning the part of Maria, which she played for around 18 months in the end. She did experience the beginnings of vocal problems during the run, which have now pretty much put the kybosh on her musical theatre career, and it is hard not to feel that this recording does not capture Fisher at her best.

There's a breathiness to her performance which makes her voice occasionally sound weak and with such a classic score as Rodgers and Hammerstein's, there's no room for anything even just a tiny bit substandard. Too often, she's overly mannered and lacking a depth of feeling in the bigger numbers, although she connects with the children well, particularly in the lively rendition of 'The Lonely Goatherd'.

Alexander Hanson's Captain, a late replacement for Simon Shepherd when the show opened, similarly doesn't really shine here on record, his only standout moment coming in the shimmering loveliness of the reprise of the title track sung by the children - saving the day once again. Lesley Garrett's makes for a more genial Mother Abbess than you might have expected and Lauren Ward (The Baroness), Ian Gelder (Max) and Neil McDermott (Rolf) do well in the supporting cast.

But ultimately, this is a recording to like rather than love and when there's so much other choice available, that's sadly not good enough.


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