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The Baker's Wife OCR

For the composer/lyricist who - through Pippin and Godspell - was responsible for some of my earliest and fondest exposure to musical theatre, I've never taken a particularly keen interest in Stephen Schwartz's career. Strange, cause he's been responsible for some fantastic shows and scores - the aforementioned Godspell (my first musical addiction) and Pippin, the recent Wicked, The Prince of Egypt and Working (which I have a vague memory of enjoying a lot based on a live performance years ago). On the other hand, some of his other work I've found unmemorable - Children of Eden, Disney's Hunchback and Pocahontas, or Rags. Looking at this list I see I tend to prefer the shows where he's responsible for the music, not just the lyrics.

It was on a whim that I picked up the OCR of The Baker's Wife at a sale. I should have such whims more often.

This recording is referred to as the original Broadway cast album, though according to Schwartz's website the show closed out of time before it could even reach New York.

No idea why this was, it certainly wasn't because of the score, which is tender and exquisite.

Technically, the source material (CD remaster of a 1976 ... mono I think ... recording) demonstrates its age. But musically the score reveals its timelessness.

I really love Paul Sorvino's honey-coated tenor, and I'm not usually a fan of overtly operatic voices singing musical theatre. Not that Sorvino's interpretations of the songs are bombastic in any way. Rather the sweetness of the character comes through in the singing. I'm no expert, but the name "Mario Lanza" kept occurring to me while listening to him.

Patti LuPone - in her first recording according to the liner notes - projects only a trace of her trademark sneer. She's definitely a taste which I never - quite - acquired, but she's never sounded more youthful (unsurprising I guess), if still occasionally harsh. Listening to her sing "Meadowlark" (surely the Act I finale?), for the first time I got the song... not sure if that's because of her rendition or because I finally understood the context.

Kurt Peterson isn't quite to my taste either, but he gets to perform a couple of overtly Brelian numbers with gusto, chief among them "Proud Lady". Deliberate homage by Schwartz? Or just a natural outcome of trying to write French songs?

Will have to search out the other (more complete) cast recording of the show, as well as Schwartz's other early composer/lyricist works.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 22, 2005 11:12 PM.

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