National Symphony Orchestra

Guys & Dolls (First Complete Recording)

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Recorded in London in June 1995, this is billed as the "first complete recording" of Guys and Dolls, which means that its two CDs contain extra dance music, underscoring, and dialogue for the longest version of the score yet issued on disc. Also thrown in as a bonus are the three songs written for the movie version and one song, "Travelling Light," that was written for the show but cut from it. Since George Bassman and Ted Royal's original orchestrations have been used (Larry Moore did new charts for the bonus material), this album is an important addition to the theater music library, including much music never before recorded. But beyond that, the performances are for the most part outstanding. There have been too many poorly accented British versions of this very American show, and there are a few poor accents here, too, notably Tim Flavin's as Nathan Detroit. Flavin's idea of an appropriate accent is to throw in an occasional exaggerated mispronunciation, and otherwise sing straight, which tends to mar "Fugue for Tinhorns" and "The Oldest Established," since Don Stephenson and David Green share his articulation problems. But Americans have been cast in the major singing roles, and each of them is exceptional. Gregg Edelman captures Sky Masterson's swagger, Kim Criswell seems to be channeling the original Adelaide, Vivian Blaine, and Emily Loesser, the daughter of the show's songwriter, Frank Loesser, naturally knows her way around the Sarah Brown songs. Edelman and Criswell display enough chemistry that they ought to do the show onstage sometime. The result is an outstanding studio cast recording of Guys and Dolls that compares favorably with the original Broadway cast recording and the 1992 Broadway revival cast recording, and features far more music than either of them.

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