John Latouche's and Jerome Moross' The Golden Apple had the distinction of being the first off-Broadway work ever to undergo a planned transfer to the Broadway stage -- there, despite rave reviews, it died a quick death, mostly because of misconceptions about its accessibility. Adapted from The Iliad and The Odyssey -- with the stories transposed to the early-20th century Pacific Northwest -- it was a charming, folksy, tuneful, subtly sophisticated, and brilliantly clever score that could have won over audiences had it lasted long enough to generate positive word of mouth, but that wasn't to be. All that's left, apart from some great reviews, is this cast album, recorded in 1954 and one of the most obscure releases of its kind in the RCA Victor catalog. The re-release is akin to a gift from heaven, and one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful listening experiences of its kind that one can have -- composer Jerome Moross, who later became immortalized as a film composer, here is trading in melodies that seem to parallel pieces such as Lerner & Loewe's "They Call the Wind Maria," and has a few tunes in here that later surface in more thoroughly realized versions as part of the score for The Big Country. This isn't the full score, sad to say -- the producers were obliged to cut both whole numbers and sections of many songs that were included in order to come up with a single LP release, but what is here is a delightful folk opera: unpretentious, playful, and accessible -- and ironically enough, if it were intact, it might be a great way to start teaching Homer today to grade-school students. The digital transfer is clean and sharp, and very crisp (it's not as though the master tape on this album ever had a serious workout), and the annotation is superb. And the vocal contributions, by Priscilla Gillette, Stephen Douglass, Kaye Ballard, Portia Nelson, et al., are priceless.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder