A Celebration of Lerner & Loewe

A Celebration of Lerner & Loewe


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When an album is called A Celebration of Lerner & Loewe, referring to the musical theater songwriting team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, who created five important shows -- Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi (first a movie musical, later produced on-stage), and Camelot -- one may reasonably ask why it contains music from only the first four. The answer is simple. British reissue label Sepia Records specializes in unlicensed albums taking advantage of the 50-year limit on copyright for recordings in Europe, and Camelot opened in 1960, meaning that, in order to issue an album containing its music without getting permission and paying for it, Sepia would have to wait until at least January 1, 2011. As it is, Sepia may have jumped the gun a little bit, since the bulk of this album is a reissue of the two-LP set An Evening with Lerner and Loewe, originally released by RCA Victor Records in 1959, with other material added. (The liner notes claim the LP was recorded in 1958.) On that album, RCA hired four singers -- film star Jane Powell, comedian Phil Harris, and opera stars Robert Merrill and Jan Peerce -- and set them loose on the existing Lerner & Loewe catalog, with one LP side each devoted to excerpts from Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, and Gigi. On this album, Sepia has put the Brigadoon (tracks 1-7), Gigi (tracks 8-15), and Paint Your Wagon (tracks 16-21) material on the first disc. The second disc kicks off with My Fair Lady (tracks 25-33). A few miscellaneous tracks (including a Brigadoon medley sung by Lee Sullivan of the original Broadway cast and Sally Sweetland, as performed in the 1953 Ice Capades!) are followed by another version of My Fair Lady (tracks 37-48), this one performed by the British big band Norrie Paramor & His Concert Orchestra, with vocalists Patricia Clark and Michael Sammes. The question is whether the two and a half hours of Lerner & Loewe music constitutes, as the album cover puts it, "a musical spectacular," or just a grab bag of odd performances. The answer is something in between, though a bit closer to the latter. The RCA recordings aren't really studio cast performances in that the singers don't stick to particular characters; in Gigi, for example, Powell may be Gigi on one track and Madame Alvarez on another. But the orchestrations come from the Broadway productions. Merrill, Peerce, and Powell take the recordings as an opportunity to exercise their operetta chops, paying more attention to vocal tone than characterization. So, for instance, Powell's "Show Me" may be the least angry ever put on record. Harris, for his part, does nothing more than perform as himself. He makes no attempt to adopt a French or British accent, relying on his Midwestern American twang throughout. The Paramor album was called Instrumental and Vocal Selections from My Fair Lady, and that's instructive, as the bandleader clearly is more interested in presenting his easy listening arrangements of the songs than in having his singers perform all the lyrics. Nor does he much care who sings or how. Clark takes "On the Street Where You Live," even though it is sung by a male character in the show, and no one seems to have informed Sammes that "An Ordinary Man" is intended for the strict elocutionist Professor Henry Higgins; remarkably, Sammes sings it in the same cockney accent he uses for Alfred Doolittle's songs "With a Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time," freely dropping his G's and H's.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/10/2009
Label: Sepia Recordings
UPC: 5055122111382
catalogNumber: 1138
Rank: 134817

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Phil Harris   Vocals
Maurice Chevalier   Vocals
Norrie Paramor   Conductor
Jane Powell   Vocals
Jan Peerce   Vocals
Tony Bavaar   Vocals
Johnny Green   Conductor
Norman Leyden   Conductor
Glenn Osser   Conductor
Sally Sweetland   Vocals
Geoff Love   Conductor
Bill Shepherd   Choir, Chorus
Robert Merrill   Vocals
RCA Victor Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Edmund Hockridge   Vocals
Patricia Clark   Vocals
Jeannie Carson   Vocals
Lee Sullivan   Vocals
Geoff Love & His Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Mike Sammes   Vocals
Norman Layden   Conductor
Jeri Mayhall   Conductor
Rita Williams Singers   Choir, Chorus
Edmund Hockeridge   Vocals
Norrie Paramor Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
RCA Victor Chorale   Choir, Chorus
Bill Shepherd's Northern Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Tony Bavaar Orchestra   Performing Ensemble

Technical Credits

Alan Jay Lerner   Lyricist
Glenn Osser   Arranger
Frederick Loewe   Composer
Ray Leaning   CD Graphics
Dominic McHugh   Liner Notes

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