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One singular sensation... "One singular sensation..." (Toronto, Canada)
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Sweet Bye & Bye
Sweet Bye & Bye
Price: CDN$ 23.62
21 used & new from CDN$ 14.00

3.0 out of 5 stars What were they thinking of?!?!?!?!, June 25 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sweet Bye & Bye (Audio CD)
It is hard, very hard, to sum up this CD of what must have been the most expensive musical in the 1940s, and probably the worst show ever to arrive on Broadway.There are cringeable moments on the CD that must have ensured a massive exodus from the theatre each time one of them arrived; the theatre must by all that is right, have been empty before the final number.
But now, in 2015, we have the first recording of the show, not exactly what arrived on Broadway, but pieced together from the numerous rewrites and rethinkings and bitter feuds that had to have taken place during the tryouts. The best that is here was generally cut from the show before it made its official and odious opening on Broadway; and that is what saves the CD. Well, that and Philip Chaffin and Marin Mazzie who are both quite wonderful, fabulous, in fact, considering the sub-subpar material surrounding them. Danny Burstein is totally wasted, and no one else has a chance to make any sort of impression as they come and go through a revolving door.
I won't attempt to sum up the plot; it is juvenile, foolish, illogical nonsense, a comedy without humour. And as you listen to it, that statement will appear to be praise!
So what do we have of value? Chaffin is always marvellous and he makes "Born Too Late" and "Round About" work well.In fact, in any other show the first might have been a hit - but they cut it before the show staggered into NYC. Mazzie has fun with "Just Like a Man", and together with Chaffin has "Too Enchanting", the only love song in the score. A few other songs are passable, "Our Parents Forgot to Get Married", "The Sea-Gull and the Ea-Gull", "Let's Be Young", and the title tune, which also failed to make it to Broadway. But they would be the weak links in any other score.
And, it is the only recording of a 'lost' Vernon Duke musical that is ever likely to exist. And PSClassics have done a great job of recording it and attempting to fit the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle of a show together. I presume that the result is
a great improvement over any of the multi-versions that were created on the road. And some very good shows have worse CDs that failed to capture any of the magic that appeared on stage. In the original cast was a then unknown, Dolores Gray, in the lead role, who gave the show whatever snap it had. She alone survived this debacle. Here, there are Mazzie and Chaffin, two of the best there are, and they almost make you forget the plot about robots that your children make with legos, tree surgeons who market chocolate candy that manufactures itself out of nothing, personality consultants, and only heaven knows what else.
Buy it? If the price is really good, yes. You'll never experience any other Broadway show like it. And you can feel good about owning a Broadway flop which is almost certain to be dropped by PSC and be unable to find anywhere at any price.

The King & I
The King & I
Price: CDN$ 13.01
40 used & new from CDN$ 10.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 and a half stars...., June 24 2015
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This review is from: The King & I (Audio CD)
It is wonderful to have the complete score of "The King and I" at last. No other version is as complete. I even love the new Overture for including "Shall We Dance" as a major component. But there are a few little flaws that prevent me from giving this five stars. The first one is the least important, but it is somehow the most niggling. How does one erase Deborah Kerr's breathtaking Anna even if most of her singing was done by Marni Nixon? Kerr could act circles around anyone in Hollywood. Her performance in this film, or in "Separate Tables" or "Heaven Knows Mr Allison" or dozens of others were better than the actresses who won the oscars, too often for sentimental reasons. And Nixon's voice was a miracle! Okay, my emotional problem and I'll work on it.
Kelli O'Hara is a very good Anna with an enchanting voice. But she is about a decade too young to capture the depth of the part with a lovely voice alone. It needs to be richer. On stage one does not notice this, but the CD reveals it all. Her "I Whistle a Happy Tune" is so feeble that one dreads what is to come. Matters improve considerably with "Hello Young Lovers" but though there is a nice touch of drama to it, the vocal aspect is still too soft, gentle even, except for two lines. Oh, to have her play this part ten years from now, and with a King who can at least come close to what Brynner brought to the part. Here, yes he is from the right part of this small earth to play the part, but his singing voice is dreadfully weak. Without O'Hara the CD might slip into the abyss. In part, it is saved by the secondary plot. Ashley Park can sing and act, at the same time, brilliantly as Tuptim. As Lun Tha, Conrad Ricamora has exactly the right voice, and beautiful control over it, that the movie failed miserably with. Their duets are breathtakingly gorgeous, and her solo, "My Lord and Master" is fabulous, though, like too many other numbers, it appears much briefer on this CD than on the stage. Were they making room for "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" at the expense of chipping away at some of the songs? It appears that the CD believes that no song should go beyond three minutes, and some gorgeous numbers are there, and then gone far too soon, or almost chopped off. Ruthie Ann Miles, on the CD, is not the perfect Lady Thiang. Several of her notes go somewhat sharp while a few others fall flat."Something Wonderful" should have been rerecorded as she is better than as presented on this CD.
The major pluses are, above all, Kelli O'Hara despite being a bit too young for the part. God, she invests the role with soul and spirit. She banishes the Gertrude Lawrence version to oblivion, somewhat an easy task. But she shows so much promise of being in the same league with Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, and the few other great Broadway leading ladies. For that alone, this CD is well worth owning and enjoying. And you will never listen to a finer set of songs by the secondary plot cast.They should be on their way to major roles for the perfection they reveal here. Then, there are the orchestrations, beautifully done. They are similar to the original but with added touches of genius that make them superior to all others.
In all, a must for those who collect Broadway shows. I suppose I would have given it five stars if it were not this particular show, but is Rogers and Hammerstein's second best and if one is to do it right, everything should be perfect. That means that I forgive its flaws, and those of every version recorded of "Carousel", the R&H masterpiece, almost impossible to do right. Try the English version with a young Billy and Julie. The score is complete, an important point, and the voices are young enough for us to believe that they could fall in love at their first meeting. Could anyone imagine that John Raitt really fell in love with Jan Clayton, who never seems to have understood Julie at all?
The 2015 version of "The King and I"? Do yourself the greatest favour, and buy it.

An American in Paris (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
An American in Paris (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Price: CDN$ 12.99
40 used & new from CDN$ 12.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic, musically magic, perfection!, June 21 2015
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The producers wisely decided not to copy the splendid MGM musical, but to use it as a source, keeping some ideas, and dropping others, such as the Oscar Levant role. Much of the music went, too. Two songs were kept, but are given dramatically different presentations. "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise was one they kept, but not until almost at the end does it become the song MGM used. "S'Wonderful" is the other, but more complicated than in the movie. There were so many great Gershwin songs that could be slipped in to replace the movie's score. And they have chosen wisely.
But the great delight is the amount of classical Gershwin that they have managed to work into their score, albeit generally shortened. The cast was unknown to me, but they are all superb, though the female lead, a dancer primarily, has some trouble with her single solo. That is what amazes me, that these people were able to dance brilliantly and sing superbly, sometimes at the same time.
The CD presents the listener with one of the most melodious and romantic scores in years. The sound is brilliant. The orchestra is far smaller than the huge MGM studio orchestra was, which is a bonus as MGM sometimes swamped the soundtrack with the orchestra. Here, it is exactly right to serve Gershwin, the cast and the show. To find a fault one would have to be unwilling to accept a new "American in Paris". The old one did win the oscar, but so few movie musicals have transferred to the stage successfully. This one has because it changed so much to update and enrich the plot and give this fantastic cast something solid to work with.
By all means buy it. It soars. Oh, how it soars!!

Mon Coffret Radio-Canada 1996-1999 (4 CD)
Mon Coffret Radio-Canada 1996-1999 (4 CD)
Price: CDN$ 20.00
3 used & new from CDN$ 20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Music for the heart and the soul, June 16 2015
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I am not sure how Alain Lefevre accomplishes the magic that takes place when he sits down at a piano, but it a wonder to cherish for a very long time. Perhaps it is the gentle, almost loving touch that he brings to his playing. Possibly it is his empathy with the music. On the other hand, it may be a God-given gift that he shares with the world, taking musical compositions that we are familiar with and making them fresh, vibrant, and revealing both their power and their delicacy at the same moment. Whatever, this collection is magnificent. It is technically brilliantly recorded, everything much sharper and more alive than the recordings of most soloists on Cds.

His most recent work is gorgeous, too, combing the classical mood with just a hint of jazz. The gentleman is uniquely gifted.

By all means, add this to your collection, even if it is the first classical collection that you own. It is a treasure trove of beauty and rapturous presentation.

Make Your Own Kind of Music - Live at 54 Below
Make Your Own Kind of Music - Live at 54 Below
Price: CDN$ 23.64
15 used & new from CDN$ 15.78

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A great voice, a dismal CD, June 15 2015
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Marin Mazzie has one of the best Broadway voices in the business. The last CD of hers that I obtained was done with her husband, and it was sensational. This one is for the remainder bins now. The problem is simple. If I were at 54 Below for this show, I would probably walk away reasonably pleased. But I would not want a recording of it. It contains dull songs, done blandly, dull conversation that reveals that Miss Mazzie is a fortunate soul who has never had anything bad happen to her. Thus, who cares? Her story is that of millions of us, only perhaps a little less interesting - no, a lot less interesting. It begins badly - Marin Mazzie singing "Come-on-a-My House", a song that even Rosemary Clooney hated, but that she gave her talents to. Mazzie just drizzles through it. And then the CD really goes downhill, dippy song after fluff from the seventies and songs that should have been banned as too juvenile for the normal mind and probably were responsible for the birth of grunge music - anything but this waste of time.

Why release it? Give Miss Mazzie a souvenir copy of the recording - with a half-hearted audience at best - and persuade her to make a CD that shows off her talent. This boring little trip down memory lane, in which only mediocre songs are recalled (there is one exception but it comes far too late to salvage anything here), and done as throw-aways. Please, bury this CD and plead with the gifted lady to put out a CD that proves she can sing rather than waste everyone's time.
If you are still uncertain of my feelings about this CD - DON'T BUY IT!

Outlander: Season 1 Volume 1 - Collector's Edition with Script to Screen [Blu-ray + UltraViolet] (Sous-titres français)
Outlander: Season 1 Volume 1 - Collector's Edition with Script to Screen [Blu-ray + UltraViolet] (Sous-titres français)
Offered by Shopville Canada
Price: CDN$ 89.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 67.09

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best television series ever., May 27 2015
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"Outlander" is superb. Oh, yes. it takes liberties with history, but the novels are works of fiction based on history, so the television series. It sometimes copies famous film angles that are so well known that they are avoided by cinematographers - "Gone with The Wind" has four famous moments that this series has recreated, intentionally or otherwise. In order to cover as much from a source of such size, it skims over a few points that are illogical and yet believable in the books, but, hey, once we accept the passage through stone into another age, why not accept those slips?
On the plus side, begin with the scenery. Scotland, you are breathtakingly beautiful, always have been, always will be. But this series touches you with magic. The costumes are closer to historically correct than any I have seen in any other movie, play, or television program. And where they alter history, it adds a smile to any historian, amateur or professional, and not a sneer. The technical aspects are superbly handled. Only "Pushing Daisies", and a comedy, at that, had more vibrancy in its colours and depths in the filming. And it was so expensive to produce that it doomed one of the cleverest comedies far before it was time to let it go.
And then there are the actors. I keep waiting for someone to mess up one of the many phenomenal characters created, but no one does. From the leads, sensational, to the smallest parts, perfection. And the third lead has to portray two such separate characters that I am astonished that he pulls it off with such subtle style; angel or devil, he is an experience one seldom encounters on television. Yet he is largely ignored, even by people who know that a protagonist is only as good as the antagonist is threatening.
Now we need a series set somewhere in time between "Outlander" and "Downtown Abbey". Perhaps set in Ireland? Even the American series have generally been better this year than in many past seasons - "How to Get Way with Murder" left most of us gobsmacked with the conclusion, "Elementary" was a clever spin on the Holmes treasury, "and "Grimm" got grimmer, to mention just three. Only"Penny Dreadful" seemed to have toned down the delightful gore of the original penny dreadfuls. (Leave to Eva Green. She'll bring it back to life...or is it death?)
So, "Outlander". Buy it. Sit back, don't think of whips. It will probably be a long time before another show of this calibre, and emotional impact, comes our way. The price has dropped since it was first offered, and it does come with a great box to also hold the second half of the season...yes, on that point I am being sarcastic.

Rive Gauche
Rive Gauche
Price: CDN$ 14.99
22 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise!, May 27 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rive Gauche (Audio CD)
To be honest, I have no idea why I bought this CD, but I'm very, very glad that I did. I now tend to skip the last two numbers because they aren't needed. The rest are so enjoyable and yet soothing. Alain Lefevre has a tender touch that makes each number a melodious journey into the heart. I shall now have to be on the watch for him to arrive in my home city and present a concert of his own lovely compositions or of others. He has been under my radar too long. This album will soon be joined by another of his CDs. At first it would appear to be one of those gentle soothing collections that lull one to sleep; but it isn't. It sooths, but it intrigues as the rhapsodies, just touched by jazz and yet routed in the classics, stir the imagination. The man composes pieces of magic, plays them with ethereal skill, and gives us a CD to treasure for all time. Bravo!

Lost Broadway & More: Volume 5 Comden/Green/Styne
Lost Broadway & More: Volume 5 Comden/Green/Styne
Offered by USA_Seller_4_Canada
Price: CDN$ 60.43
2 used & new from CDN$ 60.43

4.0 out of 5 stars Solo pianos don't cut it., May 27 2015
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There is so much that is wrong with this series. BUT, without it, we would not have the songs that for one reason or another were dropped, or hidden away in the scores. But none of them are as good as all the fantastic stuff that "Follies" discarded, added, altered along the way. But what could be?
First - why not tell us where they were, precisely in the show, when given the ax? Give us a more particular frame of reference. It would add to the enjoyment. Knowing where "Say a Prayer for Me Tonight" was placed in "My Fair Lady" adds to our enjoyment of both "MFL" and "Gigi" where it finally appeared. And no guesses - there are too many of them here - someone still has to be alive to give us a fuller story of the songs' histories.
Second - match up the singers to the songs a little better. The men, in particular, seem to have drawn the titles from a hat, and some came off well, and some are struggling, and dying, with the wrong material.
Third - How much more would it have cost to have a trio of instruments? The piano is a lovely instrument, but for Broadway, a dangerous route to take when stranded by itself. Here, the additional problem is that with only the sounds of a piano behind the singers, the pace is slowed down to a dismal crawl too often. Some of these songs do not do well when a dirge is the tempo they slip into.
Fourth - fewer singers. Allow the CD to develop a tone, a character. With so many voices, most good, some trapped in arrangements that even a mother would loath, there is almost no impact. Choose four or five and let them have some fun with the songs and communicate that fun to us.
Fifth - Why not have at least a shortened version of some of the songs that replaced these castaways? Few are familiar with "Say, Darling", which has good score. How many people have heard it? And so with many of the other shows.
Keep the series going. But at least reconsider this grabbag approach that is there now.
Buy it? Toss a coin.

On the Twentieth Century - New Broadway Cast Recording (Deluxe)
On the Twentieth Century - New Broadway Cast Recording (Deluxe)
Price: CDN$ 19.33
30 used & new from CDN$ 18.14

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous!, May 27 2015
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The original show should have run for years, but like many delicacies it was ahead of its time. Now, with this terrific cast, it is a show for all seasons. Chenoweth is a gorgeous force of nature. Gallagher is the leading man Broadway desperately needs. Ron Raines can't be in every show. Together they make this experience sensational. I saw the original production on Broadway, eons ago, and though it was splendid, it never seemed to pull quite together so that it reached the heights. Now I shall have to get down to New York and see this version, soon. The CDs are the best advertising imaginable. Also, the CDs are interestingly different from one another. There is a different tone to each, clearly establishing that this is NOT one of those shows with a great first act, with nowhere to go in the Second Act. One could on and describe each song with rapturous praise, but the comments would be repetitious as it all is the best out there. May it run for years, and with these leads. Their chemistry is great, each voice suited to so well to the material, which at last is given the ultimate perfection it deserves. I can't say they've never been better - "Guys and Dolls" and "Wicked" each glowed with their presence. But together - dynamite! Delicious, delectable dynamite!
Buy it? Only if you're alive. Actually, the joy of it might raise the dead!

Perfectly Frank
Perfectly Frank
Offered by USA CD SELLER
Price: CDN$ 11.60
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Bennett at his best...as usual., May 11 2015
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This review is from: Perfectly Frank (Audio CD)
Tony Bennett has wisely avoided most of the 'Frank Sinatra" signature songs. Only about five of them are here. The rest are songs Sinatra did record, but not as well as Bennett does here. Sinatra played with lyrics, rhythms, all of which we enjoyed at the time; Bennett gives each song the respect and fine treatment that it deserves. In some cases he rescues songs that had almost slipped into oblivion and demonstrated how fine and wonderful they are. The Sinatra that comes closest is in "Time After Time" before Frank got the gimmicks going.Here we are reminded of Frank, but is Tony Bennett that carries the day with a, naturally, more mature approach to the lyric. Other than that, one could argue that "The Lady is a Tramp" is more Frank Sinatra than Tony Bennett, but get into any discussion, music lovers never argue, and many of us will state firmly that the song belongs to Lena Horne who knew how to swing it and give it more bite than anyone before or since. Otherwise, forget Sinatra. It is a nice Bennett gesture, and almost certainly most sincere, but it has given Bennett a chance to come up with one of the best albums of his career, one that will probably still be played decades from now as an example of the best that our time had to offer. His "Foggy Day" even surpasses Fred Astaire (a feat I would have thought impossible.) and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square" is so very beautiful that it transports one to place that the song declares does not exist.
If you need a CD to wash away your worries, to restore your heart and soul, to lift your spirits, and to enjoy every second of, this is it.

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