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Falsettos is my second favourite musical theatre show ever and A New Brain, In Trousers and the Infinite Joy revue are also very good. So my expectations for William Finn's Elegies song cycle were very high. Maybe too high.

Finn has, I guess, matured as a songwriter but to me what that translates to is that the melodies aren't as catchy as they used to be. Ricky Ian Gordon is mentioned in one of the songs... maybe he's to blame! The lyrics too often seem forced into the measures (he used to do it with flair, now it just sounds messy). He goes overboard with "la la la" type lyrics as well, even in the serious songs.

Or maybe it's the piano-only accompaniment... Michael Starobin's orchestrations add so much of the texture to Finn's other works and I missed them here.

Or maybe it was the performances... Betty Buckley sounds harsh, and (someone I hadn't heard of before) Christian Borle's vibrato is horribly pronounced in places (though he does good work in two of the later songs). Carolee Carmello and Michael Rupert live up to their previous standards though and Keith Byron Kirk is okay too.

Having reread all that I sound much more bitchy than I intended. There are some great pieces, but it doesn't have the same verve Finn's earlier works had. Will have to re-listen to it to see if it grows on me more.

Something I certainly cannot fault Elegies for is that every one of the pieces comes across as extremely heart-felt and personally connected with the songwriter, and there is a strong sense of celebration and purpose in the song cycle which was its intent.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 16, 2004 8:31 PM.

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