At the time of Dream a Little Dream's release, the von Trapp family was more newsworthy than it had been in a while: The Sound of Music Live!, a television adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical, was a ratings success when it aired in December 2013. More poignantly, Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the original Trapp Family Singers, passed in February 2014 at age 99. On this collaboration with Pink Martini, Sofie, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp -- the great-grandchildren of the von Trapps immortalized in The Sound of Music -- continue the family tradition with beautifully harmonized versions of songs ranging from Johannes Brahms' "In Stiller Nacht" to the national anthem of Rwanda, "Rwanda Nziza." Working with Pink Martini was an inspired choice, as they almost always bring out the best in their collaborators -- along with the unexpected, like "Kuroneko No Tango," a version of the Italian song "Black Cat Tango" inspired by Japanese singer Osamu Minagawa's 1969 rendition. The group sounds just as natural backing the von Trapps as they do working with their usual vocalists, and Dream a Little Dream bears the same mix of kitsch and sublime beauty as one of Pink Martini's own albums. "Die Dorfmusik" sounds like it could have strolled in from The Lawrence Welk Show, while the version of ABBA's "Fernando" sounds like it came from a Swedish Carnaval parade thanks to the involvement of the Lions of Batucada. The inevitable Sound of Music inclusions are handled in a similarly playful fashion, with Wayne Newton taking the lead on "The Lonely Goatherd" and Charmian Carr (who portrayed Liesl in the film of the musical) joining the von Trapps for a sweet version of "Edelweiss" that recalls Pink Martini's work with Phyllis Diller on their previous album, Get Happy. The von Trapps balance Dream a Little Dream's quaint and quirky moments with more contemporary-sounding tracks, three of which were penned by August. "Storm" and "Friend" recall '60s folk in their acoustic earnestness, and the Chieftains give the closing track, "Thunder," a pretty, if somewhat out of place, Celtic twist. As is often the case with Pink Martini's albums, the most intimate moments here are among the best. A softer-than-soft rendition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's "Hushabye Mountain" captures the exquisite poignancy of vintage children's music, while the delicate "Le Premier Bonheur du Jour" and a starlit version of the album's title track cast a similar spell. Ultimately, Dream a Little Dream is an entertaining blend of both parties' strengths, showcasing Pink Martini's globetrotting pop and introducing the next generation of von Trapp music.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares