West Side Story (1961 Film Soundtrack) Soundtrack, Original recording remastered
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West Side Story (The Original Soundtrack Recording)
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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, May 18, 2004
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1) The movie soundtrack contains the entire Dance at the Gym sequence, some of the best music in West Side Story. PLUS there is an absolutely tremendous trumpet player who takes an extended solo in the Mambo that has to be heard to be believed. It's not in the music, so you won't find it anywhere but here. The Original Broadway Cast recording starts at the second half of the Mambo, and leaves out the Blues number entirely (among others).
[Edit 11/17/2005: I recently learned that trumpet player's name is Uan Rasey. He is the same guy who plays on lots of old movie soundtracks, including An American In Paris and Chinatown.]
2) Jim Bryant (on the movie soundtrack) goes up to this great high note at the end of Something's Coming that Larry Kert does not attempt in the Broadway recording. Again, not in the music, but amazing.
3) The movie version of America, pitting the Sharks against their girlfriends, is far superior.
4) The movie's Prologue has been revised, and now includes the "Cool" theme as well as *most* of the original material. The two themes are interwoven in an interesting way. But you do lose a couple of great moments from the original...
5) There is no ballet sequence in the movie! Very unfortunate.
6) Much of the singing is done more musically in the Broadway Cast recording, by Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence; pay attention to their diction and phrasing, it's no contest.
7) Many of the songs (e.g. Cool) were reorchestrated for the movie, adding things like electric guitar and bass, and they're a little tacky.Read more ›
There is new material, but a lot of it has dialogue over it! Who wants to listen to dialogue scenes over and over again? Bad decision.
Finally, it's nice to see Marni Nixon and Jim Bryant get their proper credit, but Betty Wand did >not< sing "America" or the "Quintet" - those are both Rita Moreno, who has a great voice but couldn't sing "A Boy Like That" since it was below her range. So let's credit the shadow-singers, but let's not get carried away!
Hands down, this recording from the film is the best of all recordings for several reasons.
1. Almost all of the music Bernstien wrote is available on this disc. This CD includes the Overture, the complete "Dance at the Gym" with the Blues, Mambo, and Jump that was missing from the LP release, the underscore for the "Rumble" sequence, and the "Finale" that underscores Tony's funeral procession. The only major piece that is missing is the "Ballet" sequence.
2. The orchestra plays the songs at reasonable tempos that are neither grudgingly slow nor lightning fast. Conductor Johnny Green knew what he was doing when he slowed the "Mambo" down from the original Broadway release; in the Broadway version, the "Mambo" is finished in less than 2 minutes!!!
3. In the movie, "America" features both the male and female Sharks; in the Broadway version, only the girls are in the song. With new lyrics and the guys, "America" is a much more memorable piece than it was before.
4. Finally, the music was re-orchestrated for the better. The orchestra sounds fuller and more powerful than in the Broadway release.
If you have any choice, buy the movie version; it is far superior to any other release. Or, buy both the movie and the Broadway versions, but stay away from any others. Only the originals are worth owning.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Extraordinary music from an extraordinary movie musical. As powerful now as when I first heard it over 50 years ago. It doesn't get any better than this, folks! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lynn
This cd came quickly and in perfect condition-am thrilled with it.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Was a gift to a vet I use who is from Puerto Rico and hadn't that music.Published 4 months ago by Upears