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Customer Review

on October 7, 2012
This recording of Rodgers and Hammersteins "Pipe Dream" from Encores is the R&H find of the 2000s. The complete recording of "Allegro" was supposed to be it, but this recording shows how stiff that recording really was, even with the starry cast it had. In that misadventure the orchestra was recorded in Europe and the vocal tracks were laid over at later times. Just ask Tommy Krasker and Phillip Chaffin of PS Classics and they will tell you that isn't the way to do these recordings. This recording was from live performances and it is just full of energy, but I have no doubt that this cast could have gone into the studio and recreated much of the excitement. Every review mentions the excellent Leslie Uggums and I won't disagree, she is teriffic in a role that didn't come off well in the original production and cast recording. Everything she does in in character as an earth mother who happens to be a madame. Will Chase and Laura Osness as the central lovers both give warmth and depth to their characters and they have excellent voices (Car4ol Burnette was in strong contention to make her Broadway debut as Suzy, I have always wondered what might have been if she had won the role). All of the supporting characters are well taken, especially Stephen Wallem as Hazel singing "Thinking" and Tom Wopat leading "A Lopsided Bus" and lending his strong baritone to other male chorus numbers. With all this said, the star of this recording is Rob Berman and the Encores orchestra. No one seems to mention how many cast recordings fly on the wings of great conducting. The 1980's revival cast of "Oklahoma" is THE recording to own because Jay Blackburn, one of the great conductors of the golden age of Broadway knows how to make this music take wing. Yes the cast is excellent, but role for role no one is that much better than others who have recorded these parts, its the conducting and the excellent orchestra. Paul Geminagni, Leman Engle, Franz Allers all were conductors who made whatever show they led be better for their presence, and Rob Berman can absolutely be part of this great company. One thing that I disagree with other reviewers about is that despite the exuberance of the score and the wonderful performance it gets, "Pipe Dream" is not a R&H masterpiece that critics and audiences alike missed, its a 1950's show with character problems and a score by a composer and lyricist who really knew how to write. Despite that, if you love musicals you will love this recording!
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