Rodgers and Hammersteins Carousel
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
CD No: Angel CDC 5 27352 2 Duration: Reviewed: April 2001
Carousel - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Its good to re-visit a classic musical from time to time; thus weve come to term scores like Carousel, a winner. Carousels gentle numbers offer a fund of melody, some truly fine songs. List titles like If I Loved You, June is Bustin Out All Over, When The Children Are Asleep and Youll Never Walk Alone and their intrinsic melodies come to mind with ease. Play the middle section of When I Marry Mr Snow (from 155) with its lilting, rather Viennese (in a Korngold sense) orchestration, and its heart-touching harmonies, for something moving and timeless.
The musical is a strange genre. A play with music, characters bursting into song, does suspend belief somewhat surely grand opera or one peppered with recitative also? but here, away from the 1955 film (premiered February 1956), one can appreciate the music itself and that stands up very well. The stereo sound is remarkably vivid for the period, a tad bright and thin now though, but the sheer vitality of the production is undimmed.
The cast including Barbara Ruick, Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRae and Robert Rounseville might, I guess, be described as singing-actors; all phrase naturally, Rodgerss refrains speak, and each invests genuine emotion (Rounseville slightly overdoes his fortissimos) and sincere characterisations to words and music. Its good to hear the 20th Century-Fox orchestra too. Here, under the estimable Alfred Newman, this seasoned group of session players (like all those who formed the major studios orchestras) play quite superbly - with precision, beauty and zest. The orchestral work in Ballet is brilliant and (as in the songs) superbly scored (one of the credited orchestrators is Nelson Riddle). This track is previously unreleased, as are a couple of others. Theres also the LP Version of Rodgerss captivating Carousel Waltz, heard here as a concert item; Newman captures its fairground ebullience well enough (and is affectionate in the middle section) but doesnt quite match Fritz Reiners lovingly-shaped 1946 Pittsburgh Symphony account, which is more varied in expression and dynamics.
With extensive notes and stills of the film, the booklet is very informative and well produced. Its Carousels wonderful tunes and its disarming, but telling, humanity that makes it such a delightful show, one that remains a real treat.