One of my fondest memories of going to the theatre as a kid was the opening number of "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" entitled "Rehearse." Even though the show was done eons ago and I only saw it once, that Bernstein melody (rhythmic, syncopated, exciting) has always stayed with me. How disappointing then to not find that song on this album. The show was about a theatrical ensemble presenting to the audience the history of the White House, and the songs were divided between those of the ensemble "rehearsing" and the actual enactments themselves. Nagano and his producers have made the decision to exclude all but the latter from their cantata, and for simplicity's sake this would seem to make sense. However, the historical numbers on their own prove not to be very good. In fairness, the other half of the show may not have been all that brilliant either. ("1600..." was, after all, a notorious flop.) But my dim, adolescent recollection was that it all worked much better in performance. Bernstein's melodies are, for the most part, uninspired (except for the haunting "Take Care of This House" and the jazzy "Lud's Wedding") and Lerner's lyrics are arch, forced, and unnecessarily complicated. (Could I do better? Hell, no; this is simply my most humble opinion.) Thomas Hampson is in splendid voice (as always), but June Anderson is unfortunately humourless, particularly in the tour de force number in which she plays competing First Ladies. (I'll never forget Patricia Routledge's near genius interpretation of this on stage.) Let's hope someone will come along and do a full recording of all the material from the show, one that lacks the pretentiousness that so often sabotages this recording.