There was a standing joke that two New York authors met at a party and determined that they were the only writers in the city not to have had a hand in writing or revising the book of Leonard Bernstein's Candide, first introduced in 1956. It's indisputable that in the world of the Broadway musical, no other show comes anywhere close to the number of revisions the book and the music have undergone in the attempts to create a coherent evening in the theater. This incarnation, the so-called "Scottish Opera" version, was made with the composer's approval, under the supervision of his longtime disciple, John Mauceri, and this recording was made early in the rehearsal process for its premiere in 1988 in Glasgow. The recording includes excerpts from the show -- 22 numbers -- several of which are heard here for the first time. Bernstein went on to record a complete version for Deutsche Grammophon in 1991, with over 40 more minutes of music, but this disc of highlights from this version's first production is an important document, and the performances are very fine. Mauceri was prevented from conducting the recording because of contractual constraints, but Justin Brown admirably fills in, leading the orchestra and chorus of Scottish Opera in a snappy and well-paced performance. The soloists, members of the Scottish Opera, may not be international superstars, but they sing with the authority and experience of top-notch opera singers, and this is certainly a show that makes operatic demands on its leads. The singers perform with an appropriate lightness and humor that fit the work's hybrid nature. All the big familiar numbers are here, as well as several attractive songs from the original Broadway production that had been cut from subsequent versions. The sound is clean and present. This album would make a fine introduction to Candide for anyone making its acquaintance for the first time, as well aficionados who want to hear every possible version.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins