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Command Performance

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Audio CD, September 30, 2008
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 30, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Harbinger
  • ASIN: B001EKT9O8
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,526 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Richard Rodgers Store

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By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 2, 2014
Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderful collection of Richard Rodgers PERFORMANCES that you won’t hear elsewhere and are packaged with informative notes. Rodgers was a composer of the MUSIC for many hit show, with either Lorenz Hart or Oscar Hammerstein providing the lyrics so it’s rare that you get to hear Rodgers play, let alone sing. Here you get both on this 64-minute CD.

The album starts off with eight piano rolls that Rodgers cut between 1926 and 1929. The sound is wonderful and the performances are all upbeat – something I don’t generally expect from his music. Next come eight “Demos” of songs both played and sung by the composer. Don’t expect a great vocal talent (he was never a commercial vocalist) but you can hear how he wanted songs – some pretty obscure – to sound. The remainder of 23 tracks are from Radio air checks and, in the last one, he talks about working with both Hart and Hammerstein.

The Cd package includes a 16-page booklet of detailed notes by Producers Ken Bloom and Bill Rudman as well as Bill Bolcolm, composer Hugh Martin and Ted Chapin (who manages the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical organization.)

This is part of Harbinger’s “Songwriter Showcase” seeies which also includes the recent Sheldon Harnick set and another of Hugh Martin. All are well-done and a must inclusion in the collection of any American Music Theater lover.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I read a review of this in 2008, I had some idea of its content, but not until I got the CD from the library did I realize what a treasure this is for those of us beguiled by the Great American Songbook,as the ripest period of American popular songs is called. Tracks 1-8 feature Rodgers' playing as transcribed on piano rolls[1926-1929]. Tracks 9-16 have the composer demoing, in voice at the keyboard, songs from the movie, Mississippi[1935], starring W.C. Fields and Bing Crosby. Tracks 17-20 are radio air checks in which Rodgers plays the piano, conducts, and speaks along with Larry Hart. Concluding tracks 21-23 come from the post-Hart period, being a demo with singer of "A Wonderful Guy[1947]", Rodgers conducting a preview for "Cinderella" TV show, and his brief spoken recollections of working with Hart and Hammerstein. The accompanying booklet enhances one's understanding of each period with annotations by seven men throughly familiar with Rodgers' spirit and substance. Hearing a composer play and sing his own works gives them a new perspective. Those who've read the biographies of Rodgers[for example, Meryle Secrest, Somewhere for Me: A Biography of Richard Rodgers, 2001] or of Hart[the latest being Gary Marmorstein, A Ship Without A Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart, 2012], should be particularly interested in this CD. In fact, Marmorstein includes it in his "Selected(and Highly Idiosyncratic) Discography" at his book's tail end.
However, if you do not believe you will be moved, in spirit or fact, to do a fox trot or Charleston when listening to the piano rolls, save your bucks. Just pass this one by.
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Format: Audio CD
In the October 2009 issue of Gramophone magazine, classical music critic Donald Rosenberg offered high praise: "The disc, beautifully packaged with testimonials by William Bolcom, Michael Feinstein, Hugh Martin and others, is an illuminating addition to Rodgers scholarship and a release musical theatre mavens will treasure."
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