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Martin Guerre OLC

Been a few years since I listened to this. B&S seem to do their best work when mixing personal stories with epic historical events as their success with Les Miz and Miss Saigon demonstrate. Martin Guerre (which I've never seen on stage, in any of its incarnations) is a more intimate story though also set against a historical backdrop of French Catholic/Protestant conflict.

The score is a mixed bag. On the one the title song races along with frantic energy; "Bethlehem" is the best new Christmas carol inadvertently written for decades (much better than their pleasant but feeble Christmas effort "Let's pretend", which sounded like a rejected Miss Saigon piece); and I love the low-key, moving finale.

Then there's a Puccini-like crescendo in "The Reckoning" of the type Schoenberg does so well which marries perfectly with lyrics - touching and pathetic - by Boublil and Kretzmer:

All I did Bertrande I did for you
So true, so pure
I knew you deserved much more
A Martin Guerre better than them
A Martin Guerre much more like me
Who's Martin Guerre?
Guillaume is dead
I'm Martin Guerre
I recall Schoenberg in an interview saying something like that he was amenable to changes to any part of the score, but this snippet of music would only be removed over his dead body. I agree. Though in the revival cast album the lyrics for the same piece just don't have the same effect.

That's the one hand. On the other Martin Guerre features the most cringe inducing song B&S have ever committed to record, the excreable "Sleeping on our own". And, unfortunately, much of the rest of the album is not terribly exciting either.

Still, four really good pieces on a cast album isn't bad going all things considered. I guess I just hold this team up to a higher standard.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 5, 2005 11:17 PM.

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