From the minute...: Apr 19, 1999 20:21
The Dream of Atlanta
To get right to the point, RCA Victor's cast recording of "Parade" (street
date April 27) is magnificent. Although it's a very full 79-minute disc,
some items had to be omitted ("Watson's Lullaby," "Somethin' Ain't Right,"
the Act Two opener "It Goes On and On," Newt Lee's trial testimony, and
some incidentals). Some sequences (i.e. "Pretty Music") have been
restructured to omit the dialogue that came in and out of them. A few small
sections have been restored to workshop or rehearsal versions. With the
numbers almost continuous (there's very little breathing space between
tracks) and only occasional dialogue, Jason Robert Brown's score is more
impressive than ever, sounding more than ever like the beautiful, highly
accessible new American opera it is. Much here is quite overpowering: "The
Old Red Hills of Home," "It Don't Make Sense," "You Don't Know This Man,"
"That's What He Said," "Feel The Rain Fall," the chant of the factory
girls, and the most ravishing piece of music I've heard for some time:
Lucille's dressing-table musing on her marriage, "What Am I Waiting For?"
Top to bottom, the cast is exemplary, and when Carolee Carmello unleashes
her strongest belt tones, it's goose-bump time. There is a wonderful
transparency of instrumentation and orchestration, and the piece comes
across beautifully on disc. Will this well-nigh perfect recording makes
converts of those previously unimpressed? If it doesn't, nothing will; in
any case, admirers of the score are in for a thrill when they hear this,
and may find themselves a little choked up by the time they get to that
finale. And look out for Harold Prince, musical director Eric Stern,
orchestrator Don Sebesky, and Brown among those declaring Leo Frank guilty
at the end of the trial sequence.
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