Sunday, November 12, 2017

Roundup: Stellar Soundtracks and Broadway Cast Recordings

With the holiday season in full swing, now is the time to begin thinking about the slew of wonderful releases featuring new and historic film soundtracks and memorable Broadway cast recordings worthy of giving as gifts or adding to your own music library.


Title: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Concord Records)
Composer: John Williams
Tell me more: Released on 180-gram vinyl pressed at RTI (Record Technology Incorporated), the two-LP album version of John Williams' Raiders of the Lost Ark sounds better than ever. Released back on June 2, 2017, this new vinyl version of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is housed in a two-pocket gatefold jacket featuring original stills and artwork from the 1981 action film starring actor Harrison Ford. For fans of the talented Williams and of "Raiders of the Ark" in particular, this wonderful title includes audio cues not previously available on the original soundtrack LP. This version of the album follows the track list of the 2008 expanded edition, previously only available on CD. Information:

Title: Battle of the Sexes (Sony Classical)
Composer: Nicholas Britell; songs by Sara Bareilles, Elton John, George Harrison, more
Tell me more: From the opening track (Alfred Newman's iconic music that greets the opening of any 20th Century Fox film) to composer Nicholas Britell's title themes for the main characters ("Billie Jean King" and "Bobby Riggs") and a mix of , the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for Battle of the Sexes really immerses the listener in the feel of the characters and story of the fabled 1973 tennis match between women's world champion Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and ex-men's champion Bobby Riggs (portrayed by actor Steve Carell). Even if you haven't yet seen the Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris-directed "The Battle of the Sexes," the score is a wonderful listen. And the mix of affecting songs also works, particularly the classic George Harrison cut "What Is Life" and new gem written and performed for the film "If I Dare" by songstress Sara Bareilles. You can click below to see the music video for Bareilles' "If I Dare" Information:

Title: Tulip Fever (Sony Classical)
Composer: Danny Elfman
Tell me more: Those who love the whimsical side of composer Danny Elfman's personality (think of his unforgettable scores for Pee-wee's Big Adventure and The Nightmare Before Christmas), as well as his more nuanced and romantic personality (as evidenced by his work on the Oscar-nominated Big Fish and Good Will Hunting) will find both on center stage on his potent work on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Tulip Fever. The lovely "Maria's Theme," "Lost" and "It's Done" display a nuanced touch perfect for the romantic heart of "Tulip Fever" (the film is based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Moggach), while the distant "The Unveiling" and sweeping "A Storm is Coming" explore other musical corners to bring additional depth to the score. Information:

Title: The West Wing (Varèse Sarabande Records)
Composer: W.G. Snuffy Walden 
Tell me more: If you are thinking of holding off on a decision to purchase the limited edition audio CD release of composer W.G. Snuffy Walden's The West Wing, don't. The 6th installment of Varèse Sarabande Records' "We Hear You" series, the Original Television Soundtrack for the groundbreaking TV series The West Wing is a 2-CD set and will be limited to 2,000 units. Walden won the Emmy for the timeless Outstanding Original Main Title - Theme Music (the Aaron Sorkin-created series was nominated for 18 Emmy Award at the end of its debut season in 2000, and won nine including Best Drama Series). Information:

Title: War for the Planet of the Apes (Sony Classical)
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Tell me more: Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino has scored a number of memorable soundtracks, so it's no surprise he once again had plenty of symphonic magic to add courtesy of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of the 2017 summer blockbuster War for the Planet of the Apes. Whether mining tense moments ("Assault of the Earth," "Don't Luca Now"), showcasing the dramatic ("The Bad Ape Bagatelle") or enhancing more tender moments in a film ("Exodus Wounds," "Koba Dependent"), Giacchino's lavish work shines across the powerful score. Information:


Title: Original London Cast Recording of Dreamgirls (Masterworks Broadway)
Composer: Henry Krieger
Tell me more: If you are one of the countless fans who have seen or plan to see the musical production of Dreamgirls playing at the Savoy Theatre in London through June 2, 2018, get the "Original London Cast Recording of Dreamgirls." Recorded live at the Savoy Theatre in February 2017, the 2-CD release features the cast and 14-member band performing the entire show and includes rousing versions of memorable songs such as "One Night Only," "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and "Listen." Information:

Title: Hello, Dolly! 2017 Broadway Cast Recording (Masterworks Broadway)
Composer: Jerry Herman
Tell me more: The new Broadway Cast Recording of Hello, Dolly! features three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-actress Bette Midler in the title role of Dolly Gallagher Levi. Having premiered earlier this year on Broadway, the excellent cast recording features 16 tracks featuring not only Midler but Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce (as Horace Vandergelder), two-time Tony Award nominee Gavin Creel (Cornelius Hackl), Kate Baldwin (Irene Molloy), Melanie Moore (Ermengarde), Jennifer Simard (Ernestina) and Will Burton (Ambrose Kemper). Information:

Title: SpongeBob SquarePants  The New Musical (Masterworks Broadway)
Composers: Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, They Might Be Giants, more
Tell me more: With a mix of original songs written specifically for the Broadway musical, as well as several classic tracks (including the dazzling David Bowie/Brian Eno collaboration "No Control"), SpongeBob SquarePants  The New Musical is sheer fun. The range of material matches the zany spirit of the "SpongeBob SquarePants" world. Contributing songs that complete the hero's tale where SpongeBob SquarePants seeks to save Bikini Bottom includes the decidedly Americana-tinged "BFF" (written by Plain White T's), electronica-dance "(Just a) Simple Sponge" (penned by Panic! At the Disco), theatrical "Daddy Knows Best" (penned by Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros), the beautiful "Tomorrow Is" (by The Flaming Lips) and spirited "Poor Pirates" (by Sara Bareilles). SpongeBob SquarePants  The New Musical began its run at the Palace Theater on Broadway on Nov. 6, 2017. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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