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on September 17, 2009
When I saw that Sony Classics had reissued this CD in May of 2009, I was hoping that it was a new transfer/remastering to compact disc of this enduring and (potentially) magnificent sound recording from 1949. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. This appears to be the 1998 transfer/remaster, but now packaged in an eco-friendly cardboard digi-pack instead of the old plastic case. Other than that, it's the same.

So, what's the problem with the 1998 remaster? The problem is that the first CD release of this, from 1988, sounds SO MUCH BETTER! The 88 release is one of the most natural, rich, and "analog" sounding compact discs in my collection, quite amazing for the early compact disc era, when compact discs were themselves not yet a mature technology. The 88 appears to be a relatively straight transfer of the master tape. In contrast, the 98 version has a decidedly brittle sound, which several people have remarked upon in their review of the 1998 release, apparently unaware of how good the 88 sounds The root of the problem appears to be that the 98 mastering seems to have used rather cold sounding electronics for the transfer from tape to digital, and perhaps some digital processing, which has made the sound tinny and "synthesized." What we really need now is a flat transfer of the 1949 tapes,using proper analog mastering equipment. Until then, the release you want is the first release on compact disc (1988; Columbia CK 32604; DIDP 70263; Barcode: 7464-32604-2). The 1988 CD has the same cover as the mid-1950s LP release, the close-up of the Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin instead of the anchor pattern.) The 1988 compact disc does not have the extra cuts of the 1998 transfer, but the sound is so much better, but it's well worth looking out for. I hope that some day Sony will consider releasing this again with a sensitive and respectful remaster. The performance, quite apart from the medium, is magnificent and deserves the best possible archival restoration.
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on January 23, 2010
I have just listened to a copy of the first CD release of this score. I am told this first CD release was transferred from the 78 masters (must have been acetates because there is next to no surface noise). The mastering (uncredited as far as I can tell) is superb. On this older CD the recording sounds better than many tapes from the early to mid 1950's, and can be truly considered one of the first mass-market, high-fidelity recordings. This was also the first original-cast LP to be issued in both the then-standard "album" of 10-inch 78 rpm discs, and also in Columbia's new LP format. The Sony/Columbia transfer of the 1947 Finian's Rainbow is good (although there is surface noise that probably could have been eliminated), but not this good. South Pacific was, I believe, also the first to be recorded using both the standard method of direct-to-disc cutting and on magnetic tape (a medium that became known only after WW II).

I am told that up to the current remastering, all previous releases of this recording had used the 78 transfers, not the tape. Now I know why. The sound is not only better, it is SIGNIFICANTLY better on the earlier CD release. On the new release the frequency range is quite limited; on the earlier release you get the full range up to 20K hz. Further, the grainy, harsh sound on this newer release, and some tape drop outs, are either due to a significant deterioration of the tape over 50-60 years, or the fact that tape technology was still rapidly evolving, and this was Columbia's first serious foray into the medium, or both. Apparently the technology for the 78's was significantly improving as well, but that medium was doomed, due to the limitation of the length of a side, and the fact that one could edit tapes.

Comparing the two CDs:
The First Release: Wonderful Sound. Downsides: Slight amount of reverb added, no bonus tracks, and on one track, You've Got to Be Carefully Taught a phrase right at the end of the song is cut, which is jarring to those who are used to it being there, and the song as written and performed has it. Why it is missing is a mystery.

The "Remastered Release: Mediocre sound, that's harsh on the ears. Bonus tracks: The ones by Martin and Pinza are nice to have (especially Loneliness of Evening, and My Girl Back Home which had been cut during the tryouts). The Suite complied by Robert Russell Bennett, however, is just a medley and musically pretty forgettable. My Girl Back Home was put back in the movie and the current Broadway revival. Loneliness of Evening has found its way into staged versions of R&H's Cinderella, where it fits.

If you love the score and also think that the original is still one of the, if not the, best recordings, see if you can find a used cc of the earlier CD release somewhere. It is out of print now.

You can reference it here:

[...]
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on May 16, 2012
Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza! I know some of you are probably too young to remember Mary Martin but beyond the fact that she's the real life mother of J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), she was also the first for many broadway shows. She was the original Nellie Forbush in this broadway production which is pure delight. The cd has been digitally remastered and has no pops or clicks. Just the lovely voices of Mary Mary, Enzio Pinza and cast. Did I mention Mary was also the original Peter Pan too? Thankfully, there is a tv film of that production on dvd. Sadly, Mary was always twenty years out before Hollywood decided to make film versions of shows she had starred in. With South Pacific she was too old so the role when to Mitzi Gaynor. She was too old for the Sound of Music when a film version was made so the role when to the very lovely, Julie Andrews. Can you imagine the film version with another actor? Enzio Pinza, the great Italian actor, was virtually unknown here when he took the role of Emile de Becque. Enzio had made a few films in Italy and a few american language films. One notable one with Anthony Quinn. Look up Enzio. He had a classically trained voice and was truly and amazing actor. One of my true sorrows in life is that I was born too late to see either of these two amazing actors on broadway in theis musical.

Did I mention that South Pacific swept the tony's the year it was on broadway?

Best Musical Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Ezio Pinza Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Mary Martin Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Myron McCormick Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Juanita Hall Won
Best Producer Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Leland Hayward and Joshua Logan Won
Best Director Joshua Logan Won
Best Libretto Oscar Hammerstein II Won
Best Original Score Richard Rodgers Won
Best Scenic Design Jo Mielziner Won

Probably not. Well, listen to this amazing broadway cast album and allow yourself to be whisked away for an hour or so to the South Pacific. This is, and always will be, one of my favourite recordings of South Pacific. So, do yourself a favour and buy this album. It's worth every cent that you spend on it and it will be a cd you will be proud to pass on to your children.
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on June 17, 2014
My parents were fans of Ezio Pinza. The "record jacket" picture shown here is usually associated with the movie cast. In my opinion, the richness of Ezio Pinza's voice (Some Enchanted Evening) on this Original Broadway Cast recording far exceeds the voice of the singer in the movie of South Pacific. If you are an Ezio Pinza fan, this is the recording for you!
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on February 24, 2015
Saw Mary Martin in an old TV show (recorded) with Noel Coward, wanted to try this again - and a whole new world was opened to me. "Oklahoma!" I've always liked but it is more Rodgers & Hart than Hammerstein - but wasn't prepared for this. It is glorious. The music and in fact the lyrics too. On this CD is a 10 or 12 minute instrumental piece made up of Rodgers' tunes and harmonies. I loved that too. There are the usual dreary unwelcome "bonus tracks". So I ripped just the show and the medley onto a CD-R and I love it. Everybody knows "South Pacific" so there's nothing more to say. This, "Oklahoma!" and a little forgotten gem called "Me & Juliet" are now my favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. Also I guess the only shows by them I even like at all.
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on May 31, 2014
I own both this CD and the film soundtrack on vinyl. I also have a digital copy of the film. This show will always have a special place in my heart, because it was the first Broadway show that I've ever seen. It arrived two days ahead of schedule, and I'm typing this not even 30 minutes after receiving it. Haven't got the chance to listen to it yet, but I'm sure it will sound amazing!

*UPDATE*

Listened to it yesterday (2 JUNE 2014) and sounded amazing, as I thought it would.
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SOUTH PACIFIC -- perhaps the quintessential Rodgers & Hammerstein musical from a duo full of genre-defining musicals. Practically every number a hit, from the days when Broadway wrote the songbook for America's listening. This smash show that ran on Broadway from 1949 to 1954 gave us this early cast album when the long-playing vinyl record (33-and-a-third r.p.m.) was still new. My parents had the LP. I was delighted to buy this in CD format, especially since four extra songs are appended that were produced for but not used in the 1958 movie version starring Mitzi Gaynor and Rossani Brazzi. This is the show that includes such enduring and instantly likeable songs like "Bali Ha'i," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair," "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught," and of course "Some Enchanted Evening."

There's little to dislike, whether or not you know the show or just the tunes, but the listener should adjust his expectations based on the limited recording technology of the times and the peculiarities of the singers' voices. Of course, sound quality is mono, and thin, though well-cleaned up (the "broader" mono of the four selections from the 1958 movie is immediately apparent). Mary Martin -- one of two female "superstars" of Broadway musicals in that era along with the stronger-voiced Ethel Merman, the "belter" type -- is charming and personable as always but comes across as a little underpowered. How she could have carried so many songs, eight times a week, singing to hundreds in the un-amplified theaters of the day yet be fully understood, suggests to me not only force of personality but more technique than here, in the recording studio. Perhaps this is simply due to the fact that recording was a primitive thing that far back; perhaps as well Miss Martin, an actress who sang, was not (yet) as comfortable in front of a microphone as a singer who acted, like Judy Garland. The tendency of Martin's voice to grow a little thin in the top range and to "zing" or "scoop" into high notes is probably more apparent here than it was on the stage. Martin's love interest is played by Italian opera singer Ezio Pinza, who comes across as much more powerful. There are compensations for this relative antiquity, though, especially the orchestration, which varied between a surprisingly large, classic-impressionistic style in the more romantic numbers to the more big-band, jazz inflected comedy numbers, with their rim shots and classically Forties scoring like mute trumpet under clarinet and flute.

Obviously, I feel this cast album CD would be a great addition to any music-lover's collection, and practically a necessity for those who like show tunes, show history, and the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein in particular. I plan to review the 1958 movie soundtrack soon.
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on April 14, 2014
I ordered the original cast recording of South Pacific because I was going to see the timeless classic production at a local theater. The added bonus was that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I also received it on my Cloud player on my kindle fire HDX. I got to listen to South Pacific immediately before I received the CD. The recording is wonderful, both on my kindle and the CD.
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on December 9, 2011
This is the 'real,' Broadway "South Pacific," far superior to the movie version! It's classic, spectacular,and exuberant--keeps me dancing around the kitchen, swaying like a palm to "Some Enchanted Evening" Ah...my Ezio! And humming along to "Happy Talk" and all my other favorites of this fantastic production. Mary!

It has inspired me to rebuild my former record collections of Broadway soundtracks, so now I'm adding "PajamaGame," "Guys &Dolls," "Oklahoma," "DamnYankees," "Sweet Charity," "My Fair Lady," and "Can-Can!"--for starters!

Thanks, Amazon, for making these gems available!
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on February 12, 2014
This is the recording of South Pacific I grew up on and it still sounds fantastic. And there are two new songs that weren't on the original LP. At first I didn't like the new songs, but I quickly grew to love them!
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