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on July 13, 2004
My first exposure to Les Mis the musical was through the Complete Symphonic Recording. Then I attended the 10th Anniversary celebration and got that recording, so upon listening to this particular album, the most I got was disappointment. The arrangement is very slow and most of the cast, while good by general standards, are mediocre compared to the talents I saw during the anniversary. Listening to Lea Salonga then to Frances Ruffelle for instance, is like going from smelling the sweet scent of a beautiful rose to getting wounded by its thorns. The difference in experience between the two recordings is so big that once you've listened to the 10th Anniversary Recording, everything else pales in comparison.
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on December 31, 2002
I first copied the b-way cast of Les Miz, and immediatly fell in love with it. But unfortunately, i had nothing to compare it to having not heard any other recording of the show. I recently got the London cast recording, and since i was so used to the B-way cast, it took me a while to warm up to it. Here's a list of the cast & how i rated them
COLM WILKINSON: Valjean: Colm is heard on both recordings, but here is sounds somewhat inexperienced, and a little flater than B-way where he relly lets loose.
PATTI LuPONE:Fantine: Patti is a wonderful singer/actress, and has a great voice, but she sounds like she's either about to fall asleep, or painting her fingernails!! She puts NO feeling into the role of a sad, lonely woman.
ROGER ALLUM:Javert: Roger has a captivating voice, and is by far the best Javert ive heard. His rendition of STARS is amazing, and brings out Javert's vow to caputre & jail Valjean.
FRANCES RUFFELE: Eponine: Frances has a beautiful voice, which is clearly understood on this recording, more so then the B-way rec. where she basically shreiks her way through all of her songs except On my Own. On this CD, her voice is moe refined, and her death duet with Michael Ball (A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN) makes me want to cry. She is GREAT!!
JUDY KUHN: Cosette: nice, sweet, opera voice, that is very much suited for the part of Cosette. However, she is obviously NOT a young wistful teen, but a 30 year old actress portraying one. Blegh!
MICHAEL BALL: Marius: GREAT!! He puts a lot of feeling into the role & can actually sing, unlike the other dude, whose name i do not know. wonderful duets with Cosette/Eponine. He is clearly a professional singer.
ENSEMBLE: Although their vocies are heard better on this recording, hear the B-way cast. COMPARE. The London cast puts a little bit of feeling into play which requires TONS of it! They have to sound sad, hopeful, angry, etc. They only manage to just cut it!
OVERALL, as i say above hear the b-way cast before purchasing this particular one! hope this reveiw helps you decide!!
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on July 12, 2004
The real deal is the 10th Anniversary Concert Recording with the best cast and the most dynamic performances. Get THAT and the Complete Symphonic Recording and you have all the Les Mis that you need.
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on February 4, 2013
I saw the movie Les Miserables and loved it. The music was incredible so wanted to be able to listen to it over and over again. The soundtrack for the movie did not include all the songs so I chose to get this version. This version doesn't have the raw quality that some of the songs from the movie did esp. some of the songs by Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. I see the movie every time I listen to the CD which is quite often. It is a very wothwhile purchase
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on July 20, 2000
In my mind, there really is no comparison between the Original London (OLC) cast and the Original Broadway, OBC, cast. Nearly every aspect of this recording is superior, especially:
JAVERT: Terrance Mann does nothing for me in the OBC recording! He seems to have twisted "Confrontation" around and it's not nearly as good. In fact, between him and Randi Graf, the first third of the whole musical is painful for me to listen to.
MARIUS: Michael Ball is just the perfect Marius. Basically everyone agrees on this. He's got a great voice, and he's a wonderful actor. Plus, he's kinda cute ;-)
COSETTE: Rebecca Caine is my personal favorite Cosette. Judy Kuhn's perfectly good (in fact, several of my broadway friends are big fans of her's) but she just doesn't sounds as, I don't know, sweet as Rebecca. Why in the world did they cut out "I saw him once?" That was a beautiful song, and it deepened the character of Cosette. I do like "In My Life" on the OBC recording, though.
FANTINE: Beautifully done - when I think of Fantine, I still think of Patti. There is NO comparison between her and Randi Graf. Ugh. See above comments on Javert.
EPONINE: I know there are lots of Lea Salonga fans out there, but she seems so bitter, even *vengeful* in the Tenth Anniversary Concert! Frances Ruffelle is not only a great actress, but her slightly imperfect voice fit the character of the scruffy, impovershed but tender and loving Eponine. I do prefer her OLC performance to her OBC performance.
In addition, I liked this recording's Gavroche and the "Little People" song. Thenardier also seems better suited to the part in this recording, although I like prefer the OBC "Rue Plumet Attack." There is only one cast member who was dramatically better in the Broadway cast, and that's, you guessed it, Michael Maguire! Is he the perfect Enjolras or what! His voice just, like, drips rage. Good actor!
Anyways, in conclusion, I think this really is the best Les Miserables recording out there. (At least the best English language recording.) There are problems with it, (other people have mentioned the conducting, etc) the good far outweighs the bad.
If you're looking to buy a Les Mis CD, buy this one! It's worth it! :-)
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on October 19, 1999
As the cry of "do you hear the people sing" from the company of Les Miserables disapears into the speakers of your cd player it then hits you that you have just listend to a masterpiece.The earth shattering chours numbers and the heart renching solos is musical theatre at it's finest.
From the insperational "One Day More" to the emotionally provoking "Bring him home" it is a true jem of a show.However I have given the recording a 3 star rating for one reason.It fails to tell the story enough so that people actuaally can follow the story. For people who have not seen the musical I truly believe they would not be aware of what is going on. Les Mis is indeed a lavish score which all of would certinally not fit onto one recording however as in the 10th Anniversary recording it can be done in away that people are able to follw. No matter what this enchanting musical will always impress the most sceptical of musical lovers however I have heard better recordings then this one.
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on February 17, 2001
After the beautiful 1980 concept album, Les Misérables was remade substantially with the aid of Herbert Kretzmer into a musical that could be presented to English-speaking audiences. This is the original result.
The Original London Cast is a highlights album, though by its length you'd hardly expect such a thing. It lacks a great deal of the original material, though it has enough to show off its greatest asset-the cast. But first, a technical issue: this album is slow. Slower than the show is now. It's still a good recording, but some numbers are enhanced by the slowness, and others are not.
Several of the greats to touch particular roles would show up here-particularly, Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, Alun Armstrong as Thenardier, Frances Ruffelle as Eponine, and Michael Ball as Marius. Patti LuPone is a brilliant Fantine, though Ruthie Henshall plays the role in the Tenth Anniversary Concert. Roger Allam's very good Javert would simply be overshadowed by later performers such as Phillip Quast, while David Burt would likewise never have as great an Enjolras as Anthony Warlow or Michael Maguire.
Colm Wilkinson is fantastic in everything he does, but he originated the role of Valjean, and here we can see why he's always been the first they looked to for new productions and cast albums. "What Have I Done," "Who Am I," and "Bring Him Home" on this recording are more than enough to show off this brilliant tenor. All quite simply rock "Confrontation," unfortunately, is far too slow-paced to take in the drama that it should have. (I told you it had its downsides.) Still, wonderful performance.
Alun Armstrong sports a wonderful accent in "Master of the House," "Plumet Attack," "Dog Eats Dog," and "Beggars at the Feast," though he may be his most darkly funny in the last. He takes one of the only dark and yet comic part in a very pathos-oriented show, and has a more than proper amount of fun with it.
And then there's Frances Ruffelle...yeah, Frances Ruffelle...oh. Sorry. Got distracted. Frances Ruffelle is a great Eponine. Her voice is perfectly imperfect for the role. If you don't believe me, listen to her understated yet beautiful "On My Own," where the slow tempos work wonders. She captures the room without overdoing the finale of the song, as Kaho Shimada and various Eponines to follow would. Bah. Her death is in a lovely duet with Michael Ball. Lucky dog. Sorry, but if I were Marius and Frances Ruffelle were Eponine, well...who's Cosette?
And Michael Ball. The quintessential Marius. Great actor, great singer. Check him out specifically as he plays off of David Burt in "Red and Black." And when (sniff) Eponine had to go and get shot, lucky Michael Ball got to hold her during "A Little Fall of Rain." They play the song better than in any other recording. Oh, and his "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is strong on this recording, just as Michael Ball's version always is. The slow tempos make it all the more haunting. (So you see, they are good for something.)
Now. "Stars" was not a show-stopper at this point, so it really is neat to hear Roger Allam's version with a much more calm ending. However, it shows in "Stars" (and in "Confrontation" and in "Javert's Suicide" and all) that Allam is really not the strongest Javert out there-I'm much more of a fan of Phillip Quast (Complete Symphonic Recording, Tenth Anniversary Concert), and to a lesser degree Terrence Mann (Original Broadway Cast), as Javert.
Likewise, David Burt (who is a great actor and singer) would never meet the fire in Anthony Warlow (Complete Symphonic Recording), or Michael Maguire (Original Broadway Cast, Tenth Anniversary Concert) in "Red and Black" and "Do You Hear the People Sing."
The ensemble is up and down, especially down in the case of Clive Carter's Grantaire, but Ian Tucker is a cool Gavroche, and you get to hear the full version of "Little People" here. It's fun.
The album, then, has some great cast members to get it for. And yes, they really do make it worthwhile-this is shown off in "One Day More," particularly. Here, Allam and Burt perform up to par with the great interpretations of Wilkinson, Armstrong, Ruffelle, and Ball. Because it's slow, and because it's missing a whole lot, the Original London Cast is not an album to stand on its own. Get it as a complement to the Complete Symphonic Recording, I'd say, and you'll have yourself a really good pair of Les Miz albums.
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on June 25, 2001
After seeing the beyond-fantastic production of Les Mis in London at the Palace Theatre, I knew I had to pick up a soundtrack album.
But which one? I held-off buying one at the theatre, knowing that there were several renditions to choose from. Thankfully, it paid off to wait until I got home and take the time to decide which recording had the most pros vs. cons -- and, ultimately, which to buy.
This one was my choice.
Les Mis is *London's* baby, so, for me, that ruled out the Broadway recording (the conducting on that one is way too fast anyway, and the overall cast isn't all that stellar). I hate live recordings with the core of my being, so -- even though the Tenth Anniversary Concert featured a decent cast/instrumentals and TONS of music for a mere 2-CD set -- I didn't really want it. The Complete Symphonic Recording is nice because it contains just about all of the music... but to tell you the truth, all I really wanted was a momento of the show without having to sit through 3+ hours of music regurgitating out of my stereo. Further, the guy who plays Valjean in that one is a little underwhelming.
So, with the others ruled out, the Original London Cast seemed to be my best bet. All I can say is that the cast on this album, even in comparison to the TAC recording, is superior to any other Les Mis recording (also, the players who appear in both the TAC and this version are heard at there best here -- especially Colm Wilkinson). The instrumentals are great, and the digital-remastering of the recording effectively disguises the fact that it was recorded 16 years ago. Many reviewers have compained about the "slow conducting" of the orchestra, but in all honesty, I don't know what they're talking about -- it sounds fine to me (if you want *my* opinion, the other recordings sound too fast). Also, the OLC rendition of "Confrontation" is the best I've heard on any recording (my fav song from the show, BTW). Sure, this album omits over an hour of material from the actual show, but there is plenty of material here to show-off the cast's talent, and to resurrect fond memories of seeing it live :). You'll find all of the most memorable songs on the OLC album, don't worry.
And, really, my only complaint about the OLC album is the poor packaging -- the only aspect of the album that is reminiscent of its 80's origin (with the grainy photographs and jagged, type-written lyrics in the accompanying book, the blurry text on the cover, etc.). Oh, and has anyone else noticed the lyrical-error in "A Heart Full of Love" on this version? Marius tells Cosette that "I don't even know your name"... but in the very next verse, he mysteriously refers to her by name. It's a good thing they fixed that in the revised version of the show, heh heh. But other than that, this recording is tops.
If you're one of those people who feels insecure without a complete version of the soundtrack, you'd better grab the 3-disc Symphonic set. If you want to fall for the "Dream Cast" gimmick of the hellishly *live* recording of the TAC, fine -- get that one. If you (mistakenly) believe that Les Mis is a "Broadway Musical", then get the Broadway soundtrack. If, on the other hand, you're looking for Les Mis fresh from its stellar birth into the world of musical theatre, and a great recording on top of all else, this is the one to buy.
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on April 20, 2001
This particular recording of Les Mis is the worst of the lot. I own 5 different recordings of the show and this is the one that's lying in a dusty pile behind my cd player. I have yet to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes this version so lacklustre, but it's probably a combination of a sleepy orchestra and some mediocre (read, Javert) singers.
The orchestrations on the OLC are slower in tempo than on any other recording. This does not work well at all, especially with songs such as "At the end of the day" and "One day more". It sounds as if the orchestra are playing through treacle or some other such thick substance.
However, the Wooden Spoon awards of this recording are won hands down by Patti LuPone (Fantine) and Roger Allam (Javert). LuPone sounds like someone is boring her to death while she is singing Fantine's beautiful ballad "I Dreamed a Dream" and Allam's voice simply does not have the requisite gravitas to play Javert convincingly.
This may be the original Les Mis cast (in an English-speaking production, anyway), but compared to later companies they sound like an amateur group in the early stages of rehearsals.
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on May 22, 2004
Even though the OBC might have better orchestrations and be more familiar to the American audience, I still prefer this version for two reasons; The cast is overall more superior and it has two additional songs that were cut out of the show when it made its transition to Bradway. Here's my review of the cast for the OLC.
Colm Wilkinson as Valjean: 5/5 - Colm can be heard on 3/4 english recordings. In my opinion this is his greatest recording of the role. He puts the right amount of passion and his voice is the best it has been.
Roger Allam as Javert: 4/5 - Not the greatest voice but it still fits the inspector. Not as good as Phillip Quast but miles ahead of Terrence Mann.
Rebecca Caine as Cosette: 3/5 - Ms. Caine has a gorgeous soprano voice and I loved her as Christine in POTO. However, in Les Miz, she doesn't really have any character in her voice. It seems as though she's just singing the songs.
Michael Ball as Marius: 5/5 - It's Michael Ball! What else do I have to say? He's the only Marius.
David Burt as Enjolras: 3/5 - Like Terrence Mann as Javert, David tries all he can do, but is terribly miscast as the revolutionary student. He sounds more like a Marius than an Enjolras.
Frances Rufelle as Eponine: 5/5 - Many people have criticized Ms. Rufelle for her interpretation, but I think she's perfect. Yes she sounds young, but Eponine was 15 in the book. She plays the role just as it was written in the book. Besides, if she's so horrible than why did she win a tony award. They don't just hand those out you know.
Zoe Hart as Young Cosette: 5/5: Perfect! So adorible.
Ian Tucker as Gavroche: 2/5: I hate Ian as Gavroche. He's annoying and his voice is shrill. Although he does get his own song, I wish it could have been sung by someone else.
Clive Carter as Grantaire: 2/5 - Horrible. Grantaire is supposed to be a nasty drunk and Clive's voice is way too smooth and pretty. Plus he has no character whatsoever in his voice.
Alun Armstrong and Susan Jane Tanner as The Thenardiers: 2/5 - I've always hated Alun Armstrong as Thenardier and while Susan Jane Tanner isn't awful, nothing really great sticks out in my mind.
So there you have it. My final complaint on this album would have to be the music. One day more is way to slow and unemotional and Stars just sounds weird. Hope this helps.
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