Not My Usual Thing, But Totally Worth It
Posted by purplemary54 on November 4, 2015
Anyone who knows me really well knows how much I hate musicals (with a few exceptions that prove the rule). I suppose I should clarify my feelings, though. Because it’s not the music of musicals I hate; music written for the stage and screen can be just as transcendent (and just as mediocre) as any other genre. There are composers for musicals who have created not just some of the best music in the world, but some of the most recognizable and iconic music ever. And in the hands of the right performer, some of these songs can leave you absolutely breathless.
No, the music for musicals is definitely fine with me. What I hate about musicals is that all this perfectly good music is wrapped around a plot and “acted” as part of a character or story. While that can also, very occasionally in my opinion, be terrific, generally the plots are thin and corny, the emotions patently false, and the characters are one-dimensional at best. It’s not fun for someone like me who likes prefers depth and ambiguity.
One exception to the cornball rule of musicals is the great Stephen Sondheim, who definitely does depth and ambiguity. I still don’t see his shows, but that’s just a matter of preference than a judgement on the quality of his work. He’s an amazing composer who recently gave permission for an amazing project that lets people like me who stay away from musicals and fans of the genre rediscover this music in a wonderful way. The album is called Liaisons: Re-imagining Stephen Sondheim from the Piano, and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. I’m listening to the iTunes samples right now, and I’m just thrilled. The whole thing was conceived by concert pianist Anthony De Mare, who plays the music. Each track was arranged by a different composer, and they more than do Sondheim justice. Trust me. It’s totally worth the time.
I couldn’t really find any of the tracks on YouTube, but here’s a nice little promotional clip that should whet you’re appetite.