Les Miserables French O.C.R.
Import, Cast Recording
Please Note: This is the original French "concept album". It differs very significantly from the version commonly presented on Broadway and in the West End. Some "hit" songs from the Broadway production are not in this version. However, for those who love "Les Miserables" it is a fascinating look at how the work started life; in my opinion, the show moves much more smoothly and directly. For die-hard fans of the show it is a must, documenting the artistic teams first ideas. Just be aware that you are not getting the beefed up Broadway version and familiar songs are missing. Sung in French; vividly characterized. French lyrics are included, but no translation. (Historical_Classsical; 09/13)
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My house is still a mess. As soon as I heard the starting score I knew that it was going to take every single spare synapse in my brain to listen to this recording and that if I devoted anything less than my full attention, I would regret it. Bullet points, because they're easy!
- The orchestrations are great. While some bits do sound a bit synthesized, I didn't feel that it took away from the sound overall. I was mostly enjoying the surprises being thrown this way and that as this recording didn't have the OLC to look back to, as it came first!
- There are songs in here that I don't know. Imagine my surprise when I, a person who has learned songs from this show in other languages just so I know more about it, encountered songs for the show that I'd never heard. And they're beautiful! I wasn't keeping full tabs on the track list as I was listening, and I don't know French at all, so the only song name I can pick out is L'Un Vers L'Autre... Eponine has always been my favorite character and to hear her get a new song... *swoon* (You know as soon as I'm done writing this review I'm heading over to Google Translator to try and figure out what she was saying.)
- The girl playing Cosette as a child had a beautiful voice. I don't know what it is, but it seemed to me that ever since OLC, the kid Cosettes are screechy. The Japanese Red Cast that I mentioned earlier was probably one of the worse ones, though the 2010 cast recording also has a child Cosette that I can hardly bear. This Cosette, though, makes Mon Prince Es En Chemin a delight. I like her even more than the OLC Cosette.
- Speaking of surprisingly delightful voices, M. Thenardier! He seems to be portrayed now as comically evil, perhaps to lessen what a horrid, horrid person he is. The Thenardier in this recording, though, has a nice voice that was pleasant to listen to even though I couldn't understand the words to know if he was being played as comically evil or just evil evil or something else.
- Something that I think disappointed all the low star reviewers was that this recording doesn't have any big score endings. Both the first act and the finale taper off quite pleasantly with beautiful, draping notes and no big band, "altogether now!", hold-that-last-note-super-long, show-stopper tunes. This goes back to my first bullet point, as it was a surprise.
Enough bullet pointing. I suppose I ought to disclaimer this review with the fact that I know nothing, and I mean nothing, of music theory or any of that (and I said "any of that" because there's probably names of other things that I should say I know nothing about, but I don't even know what they are). I'm reviewing this as a huge fan of the show and as someone who can listen to music and then proclaim whether or not I like it.
I grew up with OLC. I recently proclaimed the strong, surprising orchestrations from the 2010 cast to be my new favorite. I must change my mind. I feel as if I knew nothing before I listened to this recording. It is a must-have for anyone who loves the show. If you're a passing fan, then you can probably pass this by, but if you know all of the lyrics by heart, if you hum "Do You Hear the People Sing?" to yourself in the shower, and if you see the show whenever it's in your area, then you need this recording.
I'm partial because I heard this first, before the London version opened. The London version disappointed me and the American version even more, because they commercialized the presentation and trivialized the human suffering. The film version brought back the original feeling of the story and music, but because the cast was chosen for star power rather than singing ability, there were problems with the album.
So, if you liked the film version better than the broadway version, but didn't like the vocal skills of the movie stars, you might like this. Of course it helps if you speak French.