Don Pippin / RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra

Jerry Herman's Broadway

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Nine years out from his last Broadway musical, 1983's La Cage aux Folles, veteran songwriter Jerry Herman here accepts the accolade of an album of his music played by a 70-piece orchestra under the auspices of RCA Victor Records, the repository of many of his cast albums. Herman himself is the record producer, supervising the arrangements of his songs into long suites ("The Showtunes," "The Waltzes," "The Marches") that reflect his dominant musical approaches. It's no doubt a luxury for a composer accustomed to the limited size of a Broadway pit orchestra to have access to such a large ensemble, which can flesh out the sound of his typically upbeat, melodic themes. Those melodies come to the fore here, and it's remarkable how catchy so many of them are. Although most of the orchestrations are new, Philip J. Lang's overture for Mack & Mabel has been retained intact; in effect, however, this is an album that serves as an overall overture to Herman's seven Broadway musicals, taken as a whole. Of course, his best-known song remains "Hello, Dolly!," and the concluding track, "The International Hello, Dolly!," emphasizes the worldwide popularity of the song, the show, and the songwriter, through Art Harris' orchestration, which recasts the tune in a series of national styles, from Japanese to French. That may be a hokey sort of idea, but Herman has never shied away from sounding corny if the result is a laugh and a tune his audience can remember easily.

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