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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I loved it!
I can completely understand why fans of Hearn and Lansbury's Sweeney and Lovett (and same for fans of LuPone and the like) were inconsolable after hearing these tracks. I think, however, the crucial difference isn't the quality of the music, but the medium it was made for. Burton stripped the Broadway out of this show, and it shows. Does this make the performances and...
Published on December 25, 2007 by Nnie the Hideous New Girl

versus
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slashed Sweeney
To give you an idea how much the score has been cut, the original Broadway cast recording (which concentrates mainly on the sung portions of the score) runs 106 minutes. The film soundtrack covering the sung segments of the film lasts 71 minutes. Several numbers have been cut from the film and there are numerous internal cuts within the surviving songs.

It is...
Published on January 5, 2008 by Mark Andrew Lawrence


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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I loved it!, December 25, 2007
By 
Nnie the Hideous New Girl (Brookfield, Connecticut United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
I can completely understand why fans of Hearn and Lansbury's Sweeney and Lovett (and same for fans of LuPone and the like) were inconsolable after hearing these tracks. I think, however, the crucial difference isn't the quality of the music, but the medium it was made for. Burton stripped the Broadway out of this show, and it shows. Does this make the performances and tracks bad? Heck no! Quite the opposite, I argue!

Please, however, see the film first. You will appreciate the soundtrack so much more with the visuals accompanying it. And those completely sold on the stage shows should hopefully at least see why Depp and Carter were best suited for the big screen and not the stage... and there's a reason this movie's been getting stellar reviews and appreciation from Depp, Burton, and Sweeney fans alike! Depp, unlike Hearn, plays an emotionally drained and hollow Sweeney, and his voice, unlike Hearn's, is growling and full of contempt and dispassion. Makes you wonder why Depp was never in a rock band.

Carter replaces the jolly, enthusiastic Lovett with a bitter-sweet cynical Lovett, and her voice is arguably the weakest, but her performance is an interesting if not very different take on the character. Alan Rickman's deep, sensuous voice seems almost too perfect for the lecherous judge Turpin, and I found his duet with Depp, "Pretty Women" to be a particular highlight on this album. The real gems, however, are Sacha Baron Cohen and Sanders as Pirelli and Toby.

To conclude, this isn't the Sweeney Todd you've heard before. It isn't better. It isn't worse. It is what it is, which is a solid and moving soundtrack for a well-cast movie. More proof that Tim Burton is a director who understands how to translate a musical to film without losing its core or its appeal to moviegoers. Also, I would recommend this version over the movie highlights CD if just for the finale alone. It is 10 minutes of an emotionally charged performance that you'll want to remember and hear again if you enjoyed the film!
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! A Film Version of Sondheim That Works!, December 19, 2007
By 
James Morris (Syracuse, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
I received the soundtrack for Sweeney Todd today, and although I have not seen the film yet (it will open in three days), I am more looking forward to seeing the movie than ever. The soundtrack was a pleasant - I shouldn't say "surprise"; I expected to like it - let's say a wholly satisfying experience, for more than one reason.

Firstly, as stated by Mr. Sondheim, be forewarned that the film is not exactly the same as the stage version. That said, the score appears to be as close to the original as one could hope. I only noticed a few cuts and some minor changes here and there in the various numbers, and although (as had been announced) whole portions of the score have been excised for the purpose of trimming the running time, many of the small, subtle changes Mr. Sondheim has made in the lyrics are decided improvements. There is, if I heard correctly on my first listen, a whole verse missing from "Priest". While I lament (as many will) the deletion of some grand moments of wit, especially in the chorus and opening, enough of the original score has been preserved, and preserved well, for me to feel an enormous satisfaction upon my first listen. Although I haven't seen the film yet, I have a feeling (and certainly hope) that the single-disc CD omits some portions of the music that are in the film.

Many have complained already that the singing is a bit weak, but for me, the voices were no problem at all. Many theatre fans and critics consider Stephen Sondheim to be the most accomplished theatre composer of the 20th century. Although lauded as his masterwork, Sweeney Todd is not my favorite Sondheim score, but I never argue with those who praise it as his best work, and they certainly have good reason for their assessment. The problem with a Sondheim score - any Sondheim score - is that his glorious wit and amazing rhymes require very delicate handling, without extensive dramatization or gesticulation; in fact, I have seen certain performers ruin his songs through excessive theatrics. His witty, urbane words and ultra-clever rhymes need only be performed, thank you, and easily stand on their own without overt grandstanding. Any playing for broad comedy tends to detract from his marvelous command of the language, not to mention his amazingly deft rhymes and delicious wit. Thus, in these performances, I found myself thrilled to note that they are put across simply and quietly, with careful enunciation but no unnecessary scenery-chewing, the way I believe Sondheim should be performed. Even so, many could argue that it is difficult to ruin material of this caliber, but I always feel that with Sondheim, the words are all that are really required to put any of his songs over.

It is also a delight to hear virtually all of the cast proffering the appropriate British (and in some cases, Cockney) accents, and for once, the score sounds like it might be actually enacted by inhabitants of 19th century London. Not that I object, mind you, to earlier interpretations of this particular work - all of the previous casts have been outstanding in their way, but what a nice change to hear actors playing Londoners who sound English. But what comes across best in the soundtrack for me is the acting, and Johnny Depp, who I have never been especially fond of, must be singled out. His performance, which is more acting than singing, may not be vocally impressive, but his invocation of the character and spirit of the narrative is perfectly realized, and the early doubts I confess I may have harbored have been completely swept away.

Most joyous to me is that it appears (from the soundtrack, anyway) that someone has finally made a film version of a Sondheim show that actually works, something that hasn't happened, in my opinion, since West Side Story. Too many attempts at filming Sondheim have butchered his score, or changed it for the worse, or been horribly presented, or all of the above. It is my fervent hope that this film will inspire moviegoers who were previously unfamiliar with the talents of Mr. Sondheim to investigate his glorious, literate and oh so satisfying way with words and music. Although I must deliver kudos to the principals involved, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, Mr. Sondheim's brilliant score is, to me, the real star here.

Judging by the soundtrack alone, I believe that we may now have a film that has finally done Mr. Sondheim justice. I may die happy yet!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Sweeney Todd, December 31, 2007
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I have been listening to Sweeney Todd for almost twenty years - from Angela Lansbury and George Hearn to the present, but there is something magical about this new version. True, the singers are not quite as powerful or polished, but they are so much more in the moment, so much more real. Johnny Depp's first words in "No Place Like London" made it immediately clear that this was something new - a musical that was not just about the tunes. It contained the rage, emotion and pain that allowed us to follow Sweeney from Heaven to Hell. I can't get this out of my head. (The movie is the best thing that Tim Burton has ever created as well.)

This full version includes all of the songs and is the one to get. Well worth the extra money.

Finally, my thanks to Warner for finally getting a clue. People will buy your music if you make it easy for them and stop treating them like criminals.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great "musical" soundtrack!, June 10, 2008
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
After reading the reviews I refused to write anything untill I had heard all the other versions of "Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street." I did see the movie before witnessing and musical of Sweeney Todd so I may be biased but my interpretation is that of a musician. I have studied music for over seven years. After seeing the movie Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet street the first thing I remarked upon was the orchesta. I thought for sure I would see the London Philharmonic orchestra listed at the end of the movie. I was very impressed by the music in the movie and when after researching over 5 different sites to find that the orchestra was local to the set. Now after hearing several stage productions of Sweeney Todd and and the movie I can see why musical originals are upset. Sweeney Todd originally is really an opera instead of a musical where the singing takes over the plot. The vibrato of the singers is overwhelming for the plot and was hard for me to enjoy after being overtaxed by Burton's adaptation. I felt Tim Burton turned the plot into more of a musical/acting piece instead of an opera. He focused more on the portrayl of characters rather than the songs which made it far more enjoyable for more people. I have to give credit to Sondheim for his genius to be interpretted in many different ways.

Those people who had seen the musical were expecting the character of Mrs. Lovett to take the show. This is because of the way it was originally interpretted. According to the original interpretation of Sweeney Todd, it should have been named Mrs. Lovett's pie shop. Her songs are the most difficult and important to the plot. So musical goers were expecting phenmoenal when Helena Bonham Carter delivered a really good show it did not seem enough. Imagine that, Burton made the musical about Todd intead of Mrs. Lovett... Another aspect I was impressed with was the fact the actors matched the setting with being almost all british actors something that hasn't been seen in movies since Harry Potter. Speaking of which, the movie had three actors from. I had no idea that anyone of these actors could alone carry a tune or sing a song well! Since this story is based in London, british accents were highly appropriate and I thought Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Edward Sanders as Toby did a fantastic job. Quite honestly the best actor/singer by far was the part of Toby, who was for once the correct age. As for the part of Johanna it was stil too opera for me and not musical by definition. I was even impressed by the singing skill of Sacha Baron Cohen/Borat, very nice!

Overall, I was thoughly impressed by this movie and soundtrack. I have heard the soundtrack over thirty times since I saw the movie last week. I thouroughly endorse it. I was completely surprised by each and every actor/actress and their singing promise. Definetly worth listening to more than twice! Those musical goers who missed this artistic greatness were too wrapped up in the fantastic opera singing of previous renditions which missed the characters and the intended plot of Stephen Sondheim.

Buy this soundtrack!

~ Katie
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love THIS "Sweeney" most of all-here's why!, January 12, 2008
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
I have every version,even the Catalan version, ever recorded of this Sondheim musical.Every one of them offers something new and unique about the performance.I LOVE THIS ONE MOST OF ALL.Here's why?

Because this was recorded for film and not with stage actors, the performances are subtle and not overblown.Depp's "Sweeney" is dark,compelling,concerned with character.His version of "My Friends" is the the most intimate yet,as he "whispers" to his razors that "they will drip rubies" it chills just with the sheer intimacy of it all.He also sings with the proper accent for Todd which others such as Hearn and Cariou never did. Depp's Todd (more akin to Michael Cerveris') is a "Fleet Street" Todd,with the proper "f" sound that replaces the "th".When Depp grimly declares..."at last,my right arm is complete again"...WOW!
Alan Rickman's wonderfully deep bass is perfection for Judge Turpin."Pretty Women" IS a "wonder" with Rickman and Depp together.The English accent of Rickman is totally befitting for his class and stature.Timothy Spall's Beadle is as clear as a bell and again as he advises Turpin of "a sprinkling of French cologne to enhance the chase", the accent and tone is perfection.All of the actor/singers,Jamie Campbell Bower is crystal clear tenor as he warmly sings "Johanna";Edward Saunders as young Tobey is revelatory with his pure young "Oliveresque" performance of a young child and not as a 20+ stage star!; Jane Wisener as Johanna's time is limited, but her "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" is totally adequate;
Helena Bonham-Carter will be the most disputed interpretation of Nellie Lovett, no doubt.Again,upon many listenings,there is the temptation to compare her with the stage versions.Ahh, but Carter is not the star of the film as her character has become in all of the stage versions! Carter plays a far more understated Lovett in order to let Depp's Todd be the true center of attention.This is SWEENEY TODD and not MRS.LOVETT.Not to discredit Lansbury and LuPone who have been so often recorded in this role,but Carter "backseats" here and does not arrive "overdone" as her predecessors have!When Carter and Saunders combine for "Not While I'm Around" it is sheer vocal and character bliss.
Sasha Baron Cohen is a baritone Pirelli,instead of the usual high tenor.Each word is totally clear.His song is streamlined even as it is also customarily done on stage.
Many songs are streamlined and reworked (even some couplets are totally new)."Kiss Me" is totally omitted, but frankly, not missed by me.The song is not germane or necessary to the film adaptation.
The new orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick are wonderfully refreshing after nearly 30 years of hearing the old ones.( The 2005 Revial Version is also wonderfully refreshing in it's parred down state)."The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" and the "choruses" are now orchestrated and modified as Burton's film is able to change the scenery for us and show us what these songs told us on stage.

Paul Gemignani's tempi are perfection (he has been Sondheim's conductor for 25+ years), and the altering of keys to accommodate the actors is completely refreshing for me, after hearing them the same for so long.The orchestra blows through the speakers and every actor's word is heard clearly.Sondheim approved all of the streamlining as he did it himself.

I love the CD and the 80 page booklet with production notes,glossy film pix and film libretto is well worth the purchase.I wholeheartedly put the film soundtrack along side, and in places over, the others.PURISTS may never embrace it. New converts to SWEENEY will be won.That is the strength of THIS recording! No apologies for 5+******'s here!

For "Sondheads" such as I...if Sondheim, himself, is always able to adapt and re-adapt his own work over the years to keep it fresh and alive,why can't we afford him his right?

For Burton fans such as I...SWEENEY TODD is his all-time favorite musical.Would such a fan disrespect or misinterpret a masterpiece that he worked on along with the composer? Not likely...and not here!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slashed Sweeney, January 5, 2008
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
To give you an idea how much the score has been cut, the original Broadway cast recording (which concentrates mainly on the sung portions of the score) runs 106 minutes. The film soundtrack covering the sung segments of the film lasts 71 minutes. Several numbers have been cut from the film and there are numerous internal cuts within the surviving songs.

It is curious that Nonesuch has issued the film soundtrack of SWEENEY TODD in two single CD editions, one containing most of the score, and this deluxe edition which has all more of it along with an 80-page booklet of lyrics. Who is going to want the shorter version??

The deluxe set is well packaged and the sound quality is excellent. The decision to have the performers take the pitch down certainly works in movie theatres where the hushed voices help set up the contrast with the moments of bombast.

But along the way something is lost. Sweeney's brooding that eventually explodes in his frightening epiphany should contrast deliciously with the music hall styled performance of Mrs. Lovett. In fact Sondheim composed the score so in the final sequence their contrapuntal singing does NOT go together, with good reason. By bringing the performances down the two characters do not play so violently against each other.

The soundtrack album has its own problems. The most grievous omission is the extended orchestral play out heard under the end titles. It's a real shame that Jonathan Tunick's wonderful orchestrations cannot be savored on CD. Also some the abridgements in the dialogue screw up the way the songs play, notably the "idea" chord when Mrs. Lovett first dreams up the idea of using Sweeney's victims for her meat pies. In the film (as on stage) the chord comes after the dialogue but as mixed for the CD it actually precedes the last spoken line.

Then too, with so much dialogue removed some of the lyrics - which in typical Sondheim fashion extend carry the ideas discussed in the dialogue forward. Of course CD's are for music primarily but in apiece like Sweeney Todd the dialogue and lyrics create one cohesive piece.

Nothing can top the original Broadway cast performance with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, but for those who enjoy Johnny Depp's virtuoso performance on film, and especially Edward Sanders' sweet-voiced Tobias, this movie soundtrack CD will offer an enjoyable souvenir. And in the end that is about all any movie soundtrack album can be.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Cast, December 25, 2007
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
I must admit I was wary when I found out that Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were singing. I already knew that Alan Rickman could sing, though I hadn't heard him in a while and was curious. The three of their voices mixed perfectly with eachother. They were in perfect compliment. Nobody overshadowed anybody else, which I find happens in most musicals.

The orchestral score was brilliant, as always. And, to my joy, the songs were just as well performed.

I liked the fact that the songs were just an extension of the words, so it flowed gently, instead of having a hard contrast between the words and the music.

Perfect!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars VERY good.....BUT, December 22, 2007
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
Here's the thing....you know the score , or you don't. The fuller orchestrations are great. The performers do a grand job , considering limited vocal training....BUT : Several key pieces and pieces of pieces are missing. "A Little Priest" , one of the most macabre and brilliant displays of word play , has several instances of the genius word-play missing. Shame. Should have included it all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for the orchestra alone, December 28, 2007
By 
Nathan Perry (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
How thrilling it was to hear Jonathan Tunick's original orchestrations played by a full-size studio orchestra! My biggest disappointment with the LuPone/Cerveris revival was the reduction of the orchestration. While I believe the piece could be very successful in an intimate, scaled-down stage version, it's not enough simply to perform the score as written with fewer instruments and singers. Tunick brilliantly creates bizarre undertones and eerie colors with his masterful use of the orchestra, and the revival did not succeed in capturing that.

This new film version wisely retains the original orchestration, reworking it where necessary for the screen. The opening title cue is a fiery, grand and unrelenting overture using material from the unsung "Ballad of Sweeney Todd". Other leitmotifs are used and re-used with similar effect, as they would be by any accomplished film composer. For example, the alms/Lucy motif gave me chills when it appeared during "Epiphany" and, most of all, in the Final Scene at that critical moment (no spoilers here). If Sweeney Todd is a favorite score of yours, this album will be worth it just for the orchestral performance.

That said, if you are a great admirer of the original Broadway score you may miss that other important part of the score: the vocal palette. Gone from the film version are the huge contrasts and odd colors of Todd's foreboding baritone, Mrs. Lovett's bawdy mezzo, and the bizarre countertenors of Pirelli and the Beadle (although the use of a boy's voice for Toby/Tobias would fit well into that mixture). Also gone from the film are the choral elements, including all of the Ballad reprises. No tenor trio singing "See your razor gleam, Sweeney"; no women's voices turning Sweeney's name into the wailings of Fogg's inmates, and no quintet putting ominous voice to Todd's off-balance psyche as he calculatingly pens his letter to the Judge (and if you want to know that letter's contents you better read fast).

The point is made that this is a film, not a stage production, and there are differences in the vocal requirements for each. That's true, of course, and the film succeeds handsomely in most respects. But we're talking about an audio recording here, and if you're considering this album as an authoritative and faithful recording of this greatest of Broadway scores, you may well be delighted by the orchestra but greatly disappointed by the vocals.
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73 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 Stars for the Soundtrack, an Extra Star for the Immortal Score, December 19, 2007
By 
This review is from: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 Film Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
The just released soundtrack to the film version of "Sweeney Todd" is a rather thin voiced though richly orchestrated version of the classic musical. Whether or not you care for the work of Stephen Sondheim is a matter of taste. The virtues of "Sweeney Todd" have been discussed for thirty years, so let's just cut (pun intended) to the chase. While not a disservice to this seminal piece, the new soundtrack falls far short of other recordings due to some jarring vocal miscasting. Johnny Depp has a fair baritone, and what his voice lacks in professionalism is made up for by his intense protrayal, although his tendency to croon several passages is a bit jarring. Depp really ACTS the role in the songs. He's also the first recorded "Sweeney" to speak with an English accent and it works. While a bit thin at the top of his register, Depp sounds just fine in "My Friends" and his duet with Alan Rickman, "Pretty Women", is rather beautiful to hear from two generally non-professional singers. Rickman performs each of his songs with aplomb and Sacha Baron-Cohen is surprisingly effective as Pirelli. In addition, Edward Sanders, the 14-year old with the best voice in the cast, is a delight as Tobias and finally allows the role the resonence it needs because he's the right age. His "Not While I'm Around" is sensational, as are his comical moments in "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir".

The other performers are unfortunately not fully up to the task on CD. Jamie Campbell Bower is somewhat enemic on "Johanna", though he brings a certain vacuosness to his performance that's right for the role and it's nice to have Anthony cast with an actor the right age. Likewise, Jayne Wisener doesn't quite have the pipes or range to bring off the complicated "Green Finch and Linnett Bird", though it's quite appealing to have this frequently over-sung piece performed in character. That brings us to Helena Bonham Carter, a delightful actress who is disasterously miscast in the singing role of Mrs. Lovett. She supposedly got the role not because she is director Tim Burton's companion and mother to his children (yeah...right) but because of her superior audition. Huh? She barely sings above a whisper and seems to hold back in order to maintain her weak vocal control. Mrs. Lovett is the bawdy, no nonsense comic harridan of the piece, but Bonham Carter's performances are totally lackluster. They just lie there. She fares best on the eerie lullaby "Wait", where her diminished vocals suit the gentle temptation of the song. However, gone is the humor of "Worst Pies in London", the maniacal energy of "A Little Priest" and the edgy provocativeness of "Poor Thing". It almost ruins the score. But not quite....

Thankfully, most of the songs from the original production made it into the film, although some are in truncated versions. The cut songs, for the most part, make sense because most were devices of the stage and this is a different medium. Burton reportedly reinstated material the screenwriter initially omitted, and it's a pleasure to get a film version of such a timeless work that doesn't butcher or bastardize the original. Also, the orchestra adds another thirty musicians compared to the 1979 Original Cast masterpiece. And yet, we don't get the usual, souped-up and drippy Hollywood orchestrations. Here the shadings are deeper and more resonant without being sentimental or over-the-top. It's actually understated in a way that serves the piece as a whole.

A mixed bag and a curio at the same time, this soundtrack will remain an unusual effort to present an obviously challenging work. Which, I guess, makes it worthwhile....in a way.
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