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Wednesday, November 17, 2010


100 Greatest Musicals
Various Composers/Lyricists
Performed by Stars of the London Stage,
The Royal Philharmonic & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestras
Silva Screen Records SILCD 1328
6-CD Box Set

With publicity for this release describing this release as "tracing through the history of stage and song from the influential 1927 musical hit Show Boat to 2010's highly anticipated release from Andrew Lloyd Webber, Love Never Dies," one would expect it is devoted to musical shows, originating on the stage, but this is not the case, as a good number of film musicals are also included, which begs the question are these really the 100 greatest musicals. Whilst there is no doubt that many of them deserve to be included, I am sure you will find many a film musical, which you, at least, may consider your favourite, missed out. I certainly did, and consequently some of my favourite songs from musicals are not found here. And indeed you may find some of yours absent, but don't forget that many a fine song has come from a mediocre musical, so this may well account for their absence. In the end, it's all a matter of personal taste of course and what we have here is indeed a very fine and generous collection of great numbers from many of the top musicals down the years, presented over 6 discs, with Disc 1 covering the period 1927-1948, and featuring the likes of Show Boat, The Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma!, Carousel and Annie Get Your Gun. Disc 2 covers 1949-1957 and features shows like South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, Paint Your Wagon, The King and I, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady, High Society and West Side Story; whilst Disc 3 concentrates on 1959-1967, and features the likes of Gigi, The Sound of Music, Camelot, Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl, Mary Poppins, Man of La Mancha and Cabaret. The period 1967-1979 is explored on Disc 4, with such as Hair, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, A Little Night Music, A Chorus Line, Chicago and Annie covered; whilst Disc 5 spans 1979-1986 and features the likes of Evita, Sweeney Todd, Fame!, Les Miserables, Cats, Little Shop of Horrors, Starlight Express and Phantom of the Opera. Disc 6 brings us right up to date with such as Chess, Aspects of Love, Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard, Hairspray, High School Musical and even Glee, with a couple of selections from the aforementioned new Webber musical Love Never Dies to round things off (even if these don't really belong on this collection, as it is new and therefore its success has yet to be determined).
I have to say though I am pleased with the performances, both by the vocalists and orchestras, and generally approve of many of the numbers selected, there are a good many songs from the featured shows that deserve inclusion, but are absent. Of course, we may be talking 8 discs or more in order to include them, but still it has to be said.
What definitely emerges is that, with the exception of a very few, it is hard to see songs (more sophisticated though many may be) from the modern era achieving the kind of timeless popularity of those written many years ago, their expertly crafted simplicity of lyric and memorable melodies being much easier for the masses to latch on to and hold in their hearts and minds.
As a footnote, you may be interested to know that to celebrate this release, Silva Screen, with its partners Pure Solo and The Stage ran a competition to discover the next musical star, with James Loynes the winner, whose winning audition song "All I Ask Of You," from The Phantom of the Opera, is featured on Disc 5.
A great Christmas gift, order your copy from


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